i've been thinking abt the concept of "lifestyle" wrt consumer products/branding lately, and a darling that i always come back to is a drink from the 90s

OK. Soda, a bold, interesting failure by Coca-Cola, and possibly the most Gen X product ever created (mini-thread)
OK. was the brainchild of Sergio Zyman, the marketing exec responsible for the infamous "New Coke" campaign.

Zyman was aware of Coke's worldwide ubiquity, and wanted to capitalize on the very disillusionment that ubiquity created. what better time than the 90s, the grunge age?
OK. was one of the first products notably targeted towards Gen X consumers.

romantic nihilism, distrust of commercial influence, and freedom of choice were paramount. OK. wore these proudly, w/ intentionally drab packaging and postmodern, anxious portraits/messaging on its cans.
accompanying the bold packaging choices were equally aggressive marketing, in print and on television.

but where OK. /really/ tread new ground was with how it interacted with its target market, attempting to capitalize on the gen x desire to make one's voice heard.
buyers could call a hotline, 1-800-I-FEEL-OK, to hear pre-recorded interviews on "okayness".

however, w/ a code from cans, callers could take a personality test, intentionally corporate/ominous. this use of a "secret hotline" would be explored by "ARG" ad campaigns decades later
coke also ran a contest campaign with OK., where buyers with a winning pop-top could claim a prize.

that prize was an OK. branded hat, and two quarters, with which to buy another can of OK. soda.
OK. was only rolled out in test markets, was deemed a commercial underperformer, and didn't even last a year.

however, to call OK. a failure would be a huge mistake. its innovations in target marketing would go onto influence major campaigns for decades.
the set of OK. commercials, for instance, featured 50's and muzak-inspired music, black title cards, and a snarky tone - a style you may have seen emulated by a certain popular late-night TV block a decade later.

even coke learned a lot from OK., and decided to take another crack at Gen X - one year later (1994), they debuted their new-age-inspired, easygoingly aloof soft drink Fruitopia, complete with a set of commercials with original tracks by the Cockteau Twins
and, of course... look around us. another soft drink, Sunny D, was recently in the news for this tweet, attempting afresh (and with harrowing implications) to reach a gen z market portrayed as depressed, anxious, and ready to overshare
so, is the legacy of OK. soda that of an attempt to cynically capitalize off of the worries of young ppl, an inherent act of capitalist inhumanity? I wouldn't make that argument.
rather, it merely demonstrated the power of creating an immersive environment for ppl to seek the concept of "lifestyle". despite its small market rollout, people remember OK., because it sold, more than anything, not a product, but an aesthetic, a feeling, made manifest.
that power can be used for good, or for evil. as a creator, I wouldn't ascribe it a characteristic beyond that. it's a tool in the hands of its users.

all it really cares about is feeling. and this time, that feeling was feeling Ok.
(if you liked this thread, pls consider giving me a follow! i tweet stuff like this fairly regularly, and am gonna be starting promotion for my own project, a y2k-inspired puzzle game called CROSSNIQ+, very soon!)
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