Food and beverage brands releasing ridiculous and even grotesque flavors in desperate marketing ploys for attention is a tale as old as time. Coca-Cola is the latest to do so, but with a twist. Instead of opting for an existing cringe-inducing flavor, they’re going for mystery, launching what they’re calling Coca-Cola Starlight.
Coca-Cola Starlight is enigmatic by design, a means of drumming up buzz around what people think it could taste like and leaning into the modern-age landscape of the ephemeral and unknown. Pretty much all we do know about the beverage is the flavor is a nod to outer space and is the color red, “inspired by the light of the stars.”
The soda also has “notes reminiscent of stargazing around a campfire, as well as a cooling sensation that evokes the feeling of a cold journey to space,” Coke said in a press release.
Starlight is the first beverage from the Coca-Cola Creations initiative, their new platform for innovative products. My eyes are already rolling. But wait, it gets worse. Naturally, Coke is pulling out all of the marketing stops for this new flavor, launching a digital campaign that includes a holographic concert by pop singer Ava Max, viewable only through a QR code found on the Starlight label. It all sounds a bit too much like a plot from some hacky sci-fi flick engineered for Zoomers.
But that’s because it sort of is? Coke has said that their Creations platform and flavors like Starlight are intended to engage a younger audience by developing “products and experiences across physical and digital worlds.” Creations is an arm of their larger brand platform called “Real Magic,” which focuses on gaming and music. So, essentially, we have TikTok and Roblox to blame for this. Also, the Metaverse? Let’s always blame the Metaverse.
The limited-edition flavor will be available in regular and zero sugar varietals starting on February 21st at grocery and convenience stores, in 20-ounce bottles and 10-packs of 7.5-ounce mini-cans. You’ll have six months to indulge in Starlight before it’s discontinued, giving way for whatever Coca-Cola is planning next. Holographic soda? A flavor inspired by hell itself?
Some algorithm is likely hard at work figuring it out right now.