Co-Creation, Not Competition; How Coca-Cola’s “Real Magic” Campaign Gave Another Perspective on Artificial Intelligence?

You may have heard that in Old Hollywood there used to be a rule to come up with names that had two Rs, like Marilyn Monroe, Richard Burton, or Marlon Brando. But the truth is, this rule has been employed way earlier.

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coca cola real magic

Illustration: L. T.

According to, in 1886, partners John S Pemberton and Frank M Robinson decided to go with the name Coca-Cola especially as there were two Ks in it, so the duo thought it would look good in advertising. 

To this day, it has remained one of the most melodic brand names for more than a century. 

So, from its very beginning, Coca-Cola has established a strong presence in advertising and, in a way, sees itself as a pioneer that has paved the way for others and sets the standards. 

Now, artificial intelligence has become the ultimate buzzword and is inevitable in any business. Consequently, the company had to come up with a jaw-dropping application of AI in advertising. This turned out to be much more challenging than it sounds. 

So, did they succeed in this mission? 

Let’s dive into it and find out. 

Coca-Cola’s Approach to AI in Advertising 

Ever since the general public tasted the benefits of AI, we’ve seen creative outputs that have been unimaginable so far. Almost dream-like, lucid, and futuristic images and videos have flooded the internet. Not only that, but creatives went out of their way to think of collaborations between brands and came up with new, unique approaches to well-known products of established companies. 

In other words, AI has exceeded the limits of our imagination and made everything possible and accessible, without advanced tech knowledge or unlimited budgets. 

That said, it’s understandable why coming up with something even more impressive was considered a serious challenge. 

So, what was Coca-Cola’s approach? 

The company wanted to take a different route than others. But they didn’t do it just to stand out; they genuinely wanted to see if there was another way of looking at it. 

That’s why, instead of glorifying how artificial intelligence can make us more creative, Coca-Cola emphasized how we need to be more humane while using this remarkable technology. In other words, AI’s application in the real world is a major breakthrough, but we humans shouldn’t just blindly embrace it, without thinking about consequences, ethics, or relying on our own intelligence. 

In their Real Magic campaign, they underlined that exact point, as we’ll explain below. 

How Did the “Real Magic” Campaign Succeed in Standing Out? 

In this epic story, the fearless warrior, managed by a young female gamer, decides to be the first one to put down his gun and inspires his opponent to do the same. The moral of the story is, no matter our differences, we all have something in common that we should focus on instead of competing and fighting. 

The official slogan is: “We’re just one Coke away from each other.” 

Now, how does this correlate with what we mentioned above, when talking about Coca-Cola’s unique approach to AI in advertising? 

Well, this campaign is a sole reminder that, when adopting new technologies and rushing to be the first and the best, we shouldn’t forget what makes us humans – empathy, curiosity, and taking risks. 

And leading marketers agree with this. 

For example, Paul Caiozzo of Supernatural Creative Agency explained how the journey of a human creator is different from how artificial intelligence works to create visuals: 

“AI is a very different promise than other technologies that have been introduced in the past year or so. What it means is that we need people with vision, who are deeply creative and who can control these machines. They don’t control themselves; they don’t have good ideas, we will have to do that part. That said, AI isn’t going to replace the most creative people. It’s going to make them even more powerful. The need for creative people is getting bigger, and they are even harder to find,” stated Caiozzo at the Branding Conference held this June in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

In addition, he also pointed out that big names such as Coca-Cola now have an even wider pool of competition because AI-enabled companies of any size and any country to compete with established brands. 

However, according to Coca-Cola’s Real Magic ad, the company doesn’t see its new competition as a threat; instead, they decided to embrace this market disruption gracefully and welcome individual digital artists onto their platform to generate original artwork with iconic creative assets from the Coca‑Cola archives over the past 100+ years. 

This is, in the words of James Quincey, Chairman and CEO, The Coca‑Cola Company, “the next generation of creativity offered by this rapidly emerging technology.” 

A group of 30 creators will be selected to travel to The Coca‑Cola Company’s global headquarters in Atlanta this summer for the “Real Magic Creative Academy,” a three day-workshop curated by Coke’s Global Design and Creative teams in partnership with OpenAI. The collective will co-create content that could be used for Coca‑Cola licensed merchandising, digital collectibles and more. Participants will be credited for their work. 

Yep, you read that right. 

But we’ll talk more about it in our next article on the topic. 

A journalist by day and a podcaster by night. She's not writing to impress but to be understood.