GTA-themed Coke Ad Scores Big During Super Bowl

A video game-themed Coca-Cola ad scored well among early reviews of commercials that ran during last night’s Super Bowl.

Of the spot, which mimics the free-ranging, urban landscape of the controversial Grand Theft Auto series, the Rocky Mountain News wrote:

Coca-Cola scored with a couple of ads, including one that used images from the violent video game Grand Theft Auto but turned it around. Our hero walks through town doing small good deeds that set off a chain reaction of loving kindness.

The (ad execs) agreed that one harked back to the days when ’70s singers wanted to buy the world a Coke.

The Detroit News added:

Grand Theft Auto is a huge part of the pop culture machine that has been lauded by fans and criticized by parent groups for its violence and sex. Coke takes the cool factor of the game and puts it in reverse by making it user friendly for all.

From the New York Times:

Coca-Cola borrowed pages from its own playbook with two whimsical spots for Coca-Cola Classic, “Happiness Factory” and “Video Game,” that were as sweet as they were upbeat. The commercials, by Wieden & Kennedy, provided a welcome counterpoint to the martial tone of the evening.

The Sacramento Bee, however, termed the ad “puzzling”:

Coca-Cola, trying to attract the youths, turned a “Grand Theft Auto”-like video game into an “Up With People” spot. The mind reels.

Interestingly enough, AdBowl, which polls viewers on how well they like the Super Bowl commercials, reports that the Coke GTA spot only made the Top 10 among 17-and-unders.

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  1. 0
    Rachel says:


    Look, I dislike Jack Thompson as much as the next gamer. (I own one of those “I hate Jack Thompson” shirts.) However, there really is no need to bring him up. Really. : )

    Back on topic, I loved this ad! We had a big discussion in my public relations/advertisement class about whether it would appeal more to those adverse to video games or to gamers. I think Coke did a great job of bringing both sides in and making us all laugh.

  2. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ agro and Yoshiko

    Yoshiko, there is no way to talk about game controversy without talking about Jack Thompson. Talking about game controversy without Jack Thompson is like talking about World War II without mentioning Hitler. It’s impossible. If this website were about WWII, it would be impossible not to mention Hitler constantly wouldn’t it? You can’t separate one from the other. They’re inextricably linked.

    agro, the ad is not lame and offensive at all. It’s just a commercial and it means nothing else. They didn’t mean to offend anybody. It’s only a commercial and there’s nothing wrong with Grand Theft Auto animation. It’s a perfectly good thing. There is nothing immoral about it.

  3. 0
    Daniel says:

    I’d like to know if Jack Thompson watched the commercial and, if he did, did he watch the rest of the Superbowl? He is going to be furious over this. I think Jack Thompson is going to appear of in the next few days whining and complaining about that commercial. He doesn’t like Tony Cippriatti very much I know that. I hope he makes and idiot out of himself because of this. That would be awesome.

  4. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Yoshiko and hayabusa75

    Okay, I admit it can be done, but it’s very hard. Almost everytime someone talks about WWII, Hitler’s name comes up and almost everytime a person wants to create game legislation, Jack Thompson’s name comes up. I also doubt that Japan and America ever would’ve fought if it hadn’t been for Hitler starting the war in the first place. However, that is a weak connection.

    hayabusa75, that’s right I’m back fighting against Jack Thompson. He is the one causing all the anti-game legislation.

  5. 0
    SlyFox says:

    I love this ad. It just makes me smile no matter what else may be happening in the world. Also, the detail in the ad is great – even when character drift into the backdrop, they continue doing things even though bigger things steal your focus away from them.

  6. 0
    Tony Selby ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    this add is great and everybody i saw the game with loved the add, though we all agreed that the bud light “rock paper Scissers” add was the best of the night

  7. 0
    Black Manta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ J-Guy

    You’re right, it’s been seen before, but like I said up until now it only ran in movie theaters at least a few weeks prior. You might be thinking of the other ad that shows that magical world inside the vending machine when a quarter drops into it (which by itself is preposterous. A bottle of Coke costs more than a quarter these days.) :p

  8. 0
    Tollwutig says:

    ehh this like most of the superbowl commercials this year kinda sucked. There were a couple of good ones early on but the second half only the Nationwide/Kfed commercial was memorable. The Blockbuster commercial with the mouse was probably the best of the night.

  9. 0
    Salen says:

    Yeah, the ad’s run before, but for a coke ad, its not a bad one either, and originally it didn’t get much air time outside movie theaters, so I guess you can’t fault coke for using it again for the Superbowl. It was funny and its still cool.

  10. 0
    Meggie ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “…reports that the Coke GTA spot only made the Top 10 among 17-and-under”

    I can see that, I had to explain the concept of the ad to my older relatives. It was still pretty clever.

    Nothing is as funny as last year’s “magic fridge” commercial.

  11. 0
    IQpierce says:

    I saw this ad somewhere online at least one year ago. Since then I’ve seen it in movie theaters at least twice – I know I saw it a little more than a month ago.

    So this ad has definitely been around for a while. I’m glad they finally gave it the prominence it deserves, it’s extremely clever and well-made… little things like the SWAT team in the helicopter in the end, and the fact that there’s a very accurate “game UI” element at the beginning, shows how much attention they paid to the game source – it was a nice homage to AND criticism of Grand Theft Auto.

    (The UI element I mentioned: in GTA, when you move to a new area of the city, the name of that area pops up in the bottom-left. This commercial features that at the beginning, and even mimicks the distinctive font used for this in GTA 3. I liked that detail.)

  12. 0
    pest_control says:

    Im sure alot of people (over 40) didnt even understand it. It probably just looked to them like an animated guy doing good deeds. Its only funny if you know what Grand Theft Auto is, and how it does the opposite of what you’d do in the game.

    I gotta give some credit to Coke, that even though they play against the violence in the game, they at least used it for an ad – that takes balls in this hysterical environment. I think it helps to make GTA (and all violent video games) mainstream too, by allowing people to laugh about it.

    If people can laugh about GTA, that suggests to me that the censors are losing (popular opinion). Ill bet Jack Thompson hated that ad.

  13. 0
    Weatherlight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Im sorry, but I hate the comercial. Anything that shows that much hippy love is … well upseting. Maybe its because I can see the next wave of parents buying little jonney GTA because it looked so good in the coke commercial.

  14. 0
    Yoshiko says:

    Like IQpierce said, this ad is at least a year old- That doesn’t mean it’s not an awesome though. I love it every time I watch it.

    My favourites were Budweiser’s “Rock, Paper, Scissor”, “Hitch hiker” and Snicker’s “Mechanic” ads. There some other gems in there, but I loved these three the best.

  15. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Heh, fun ad, but got to admit a little concern when a coutry-wide sporting event actually has questionaires on the adverts. I suppose it’s because I live in a country where our main sporting event makes you wait 45 minutes before you can leave the room 😉

    I thought the ad was fun because it was one of the few things from the commercial zone that has actually seen the comedic in GTA rather than trying to take it all far too seriously. It was like in the early 80’s when Barbara Woodhouse tried to ban Tom and Jerry for being too violent, the point completely sailed over her head.

  16. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Yoshiko and Twib

    Yoshiko, all I’m saying is that if anyone is going to crazy over this ad and call it a travesty, it will be Jack Thompson. No one else will do it.

    Twib, he is potentially more than annoying. He is trying to destroy Take-Two Interactive and has filed hudreds of million of dollars suits against them. He’s not sitting on the sidelines idly at all. Jack Thompson is in it. The difference is a fanboy sits on the sidelines and watches. He is in this and is trying to destroy all kinds of games and wants them erased off the planet. That’s the difference.

  17. 0
    WiNG says:

    The best part of the ad is when the dude pulls a fire extinguisher out of his pocket/inventory/hammerspace and just as quickly disposes of it

    This commercial was genius, too bad 50% of the audience probably won’t understand it.

  18. 0
    Twib says:

    and how succesful has he been?

    and also this ad never needed ANY critic to be mentioned at all.

    he can try, but lets say I am not too woried about the danger of Thompson

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