Coca-Cola’s New Ad Puts Canonical Paintings by Warhol, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Other Artists to Work… Selling Soda

Andy Warhol’s silkscreen Coke bottle comes to life.

Still from the short film, featuring Munch's The Scream (1895). Photo: Screenshot of Coca-Cola's Masterpiece short film
Still from the short film, featuring Munch's The Scream (1895). Photo: Screenshot of Coca-Cola's Masterpiece short film

Some six decades after Andy Warhol offered his laconic critique of consumerist culture via his silkscreens of Coke bottle after Coke bottle—“A Coke is a Coke,” he explained—Coca-Cola is delivering a rejoinder. If you can’t beat ‘em, its latest campaign seems to say, co-opt ‘em.

This week, Coca-Cola initiated its latest global campaign dubbed “Masterpiece,” leading with a short film that features a host of iconic and contemporary paintings, all of them animated in various painterly styles to foreground a Coke bottle.

The two-minute film opens in an art museum where a student, part of a class sketching paintings on display, seems unable to muster creative inspiration. He obviously needs a Coke.

Fortunately, an arm reaches out from French painter Aket’s Divine Idyll (2022) for a bottle in Warhol’s Coca-Cola (4) (1962), peeling it off and tossing it across the gallery. The bottle is then caught and passed along by figures in J.M.W Turner’s The Shipwreck (1805), Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1895), and Utagawa Hiroshige’s Drum Bridge and Setting Sun Hill (1858).

Still from the short film, featuring a hand from Aket’s Divine Idyll (2022) reaching for Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola (4) (1962). Photo: Screenshot of Coca-Cola’s Masterpiece short film.

The bottle also makes its way through the works of contemporary artists including Vikram Kushwah, Stefania Tejada, and Fatma Ramadan. The subject of Wonderbuhle’s 2022 portrait You Can’t Curse Me even lands squarely in Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles (1889).

All that before the Coke ends up in the hands of (who else?) Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring (1665), who cracks open the bottle for our hapless student. He drinks up and is duly refreshed. “Real Magic,” a tagline then informs us. 

Still from the short film, featuring an animated Girl With a Pearl Earring (1665). Photo: Screenshot of Coca-Cola’s Masterpiece short film.

As explained by Pratik Thakar, Coca-Cola’s global head of creative strategy and integrated content, “Creating human connection and bringing enchantment to everyday moments is what ‘Real Magic’ is all about.”

The campaign also has an online build-out in the form of a gallery of the featured artworks, and interviews with the contemporary artists whose works were included in the campaign. 

In addition to sharing their inspirations for the specific pieces in the film, these young artists further reflect on Coca-Cola’s impact as a brand. The Paris-based Tejada recalled Coke’s ubiquitous presence during her childhood; South African artist Wonderbuhle deemed the brand a “joy;” while Aket reckoned Coca-Cola’s advertisements “encourage us to live our dreams every day.”

Still from the short film, featuring the subject of Wonderbuhle You Can’t Curse Me (2022) in Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles (1889). Photo: Screenshot of Coca-Cola’s Masterpiece short film

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, for its part, expressed excitement at the opportunity to connect the pop artist’s work with that of the Coca-Cola brand—for real this time. “These pieces, paired with works by emerging artists from around the globe,” said Michael Dayton, the foundation’s director of licensing, marketing, and sales, “celebrate the inspirational power of visual art through the magical lens of Coca-Cola.”

The campaign will be rolling out across Latin America, Asia, and other markets, also in the forms of 3D billboards and digital collectibles, in Coca-Cola’s ongoing bid to ensure a Coke is more than a Coke.

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