The Coca-Cola Company set up this product to fail from the start
I knew this day was coming, but I had no idea it would happen this fast.
Last May, I blogged about how proud I was that the makers of Coke and Pepsi finally “get it” (maybe!) by introducing Splenda-flavored diet soft drinks for consumers who prefer that sweetener over the less favorable aspartame or Nutrasweet brand artificial sugar.
I even raved about Diet Coke with Splenda when it was released to the market just before Summer 2005 and said how much I enjoyed it after just one taste.
“It was just like the Coke I remembered drinking and not the nasty flavor of the aspartame-poisoned regular Diet Coke. In fact, there were a few times I felt guilty about how much I was enjoying the full flavor of this new version of Diet Coke.”
At the time, I expressed my hope that Diet Coke with Splenda would do well enough to expand into other Coke products.
“I hope it does well so they can expand it into their other flavors, such as cherry, vanilla and lime. AND hopefully they’ll make a caffeine-free version, too.”
But then it happened — the release of COKE ZERO!
Within a few weeks of releasing Diet Coke with Splenda, the Coca-Cola Company gets the brilliant idea to introduce yet ANOTHER new diet soda that oddly enough tastes almost exactly the same as Diet Coke with Splenda. Coke Zero was in fact no different from Diet Coke with Splenda except one was made was Splenda and the other with aspartame. The ingredient that made them both taste so good was ACE-K, an ingredient which enhances the sweetness of sugar substitutes.
I questioned at the time why Coke Zero was created and had my suspicions that this was a behind-the-scenes scheme by the Coca-Cola Company to insure the failure of Diet Coke with Splenda.
Here’s what I wrote in June 2005:
“Are they TRYING to kill sales of Diet Coke with Splenda by marketing another product that is coincidentally similar in nature? What better way to thumb their noses at those of us who begged for them to make a Splenda version of their soft drink? Why else would they release THIS diet soda so soon after Diet Coke with Splenda? I smell a rat and it points back to a meeting room at the headquarters of Coca-Cola.”
Of course, all the marketing dollars have since been POURED into promoting Coke Zero (and I admit I like the latest television ad that shows a Coca-Cola bottling factory where someone turns off the “calories” switch to make Coke Zero), but have you seen ANY commercials for Diet Coke with Splenda? Any at all? Me neither! The only marketing I saw was a billboard ad and that was it. You could see the handwriting on the wall about the fate of Diet Coke with Splenda many months ago!
My worst suspicions were confirmed tonight when I went to purchase some Diet Coke with Splenda at my local BI-LO grocery store as I have just about every week since it came out. I looked around the soda section and saw a new Diet Dr. Pepper Berries & Cream flavor where my Diet Coke with Splenda was usually located, but for some reason I couldn’t find it anywhere. When I inquired about where my favorite diet soda drink was, the customer service manager admitted to me that Coca-Cola discontinued that product. What? Are you serious? That must have JUST happened since I buy this product every single week and it was just there last week!
But I can’t say I’m surprised about this one bit. Coca-Cola set this product up for failure from the very beginning. While people who are livin’ la vida low-carb BEGGED Coca-Cola for the longest time to make a product with Splenda in it instead of aspartame, it seems they had an evil, maniacal plan all worked out to cause this product to crash and burn a devastating death. As you might expect, I have my own theory about why they did this, too.
Here’s what I think happened:
Coca-Cola has the #1 selling diet soft drink in the world right down with their original Diet Coke, which is sweetened with aspartame, of course. Millions upon millions of cans and bottles have been sold to consumers ever since it was released and it has been highly profitable for both Coke and the makers of aspartame.
Then a group of consumers who prefer Splenda instead of aspartame (that would be us low-carbers!) puts public pressure on soda companies to make Splenda-flavored versions of their products. To meet this need and to compete with Pepsi who introduced Pepsi One with Splenda, Coca-Cola relents and decides to offer a version of Diet Coke with Splenda.
But the makers of aspartame caught wind of this idea and didn’t like what they were hearing since Splenda is their closest competitor and gaining a lot of ground on them in recent years. Executives at the J.W. Childs company that makes Nutrasweet immediately got on the telephone with top-level bigwigs at Coke and said to them, “You had better do something about this and make these Splenda products go away if you know what’s good for you.”
Since Coca-Cola didn’t want to upset the company providing them with the artificial sweetener used in all of their diet soda products, they decided to come up with a similar product to Diet Coke with Splenda that would appeal to young people who are weight and health conscious and have it made with aspartame instead. That product was Coke Zero and was pushed into production with the ugliest product packaging in the history of manufacturing. But it had to be basic since they needed to release it very soon after Diet Coke with Splenda. Despite how stupid it made Coca-Cola look for releasing nearly identical products, they did it anyway to appease the aspartame people.
Coke assured the J.W. Childs company that they would aggressively market Coke Zero to make people quickly forget about Diet Coke with Splenda. They flooded the grocery stores and big box stores with upwards of 8 feet of floor space for Coke Zero while Diet Coke with Splenda was lucky to get 1-2 feet worth of product. The consumer never even got a chance to connect with Diet Coke with Splenda while Coke Zero dominated the airwaves and marketing pieces.
The result: Coke Zero has seen moderate success while Diet Coke with Splenda has performed less spectacular. Thus, Coca-Cola decided to discontinue Diet Coke with Splenda so they can put more of their focus on Coke Zero, to the delight of the aspartame people.
Does all of this sound about right? I think it does and it makes me sick thinking about it. What’s amazing is that some people had never even heard of Diet Coke with Splenda since it had been blacklisted in terms of marketing by Coca-Cola!
I ran into this the other day at work when I was talking with a co-worker about Diet Coke with Splenda and she said the only diet drink she can stand to drink now is Coke Zero because it tastes so much like a real Coke. That’s when I mentioned that she should try Diet Coke with Splenda and she said nothing could taste as good as Coke Zero. When I told her Diet Coke with Splenda is essentially the same product as Coke Zero except it doesn’t have the poor sugar substitute aspartame, she said she’d give it a try.
Unfortunately, she’ll never get a chance to taste this great product now no thanks to the geniuses at Coca-Cola who have basically thumbed their noses at us low-carbers by eliminating the Splenda-flavored diet so
das entirely from their product lineup. Was this the best move on Coca-Cola’s part or will there be a backlash against them for doing this?
That will be up to YOU! While we could all decide to write to the Coca-Cola company and express our dissatisfaction with their decision to stop making Diet Coke with Splenda, a better plan of action could be to boycott Coca-Cola products in favor of companies that make Splenda-flavored soft drinks instead.
Here is a list of the most popular diet sodas made with Splenda at this time:
Sierra Mist Free
We need to encourage PepsiCo to EXPAND their Splenda-flavored product line even further to some of their other products and take advantage of this HUGE mistake by Coca-Cola to alienate a large portion of their diet soft drink customer base by getting rid of Splenda.
Send your encouraging feedback to Pepsi by clicking here and you can also tell Coca-Cola how disappointed you are in their decision to stop making Diet Coke with Splenda by clicking here. I work in Customer Service for a large company, so I KNOW if enough people make their voice heard on this issue that a difference can be made.
Now we must take this battle to our pocketbooks and let Coca-Cola feel the pinch of a mass exodus of low-carb consumers away from Diet Coke, Diet Sprite, Diet Dr. Pepper, and more. Instead, stock up on Pepsi One, Slice One, Diet Rite, and Diet Cheerwine to THANK them for showing their solid support for Splenda-flavored diet sodas. Maybe Coca-Cola will come to their senses and bring back Splenda to their product line if they know what’s good for them.
Let me know if you hear any feedback from Coca-Cola about their decision to discontinue Diet Coke with Splenda.