Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Creations Y3000: A future worth ranting for?

Even when I wasn't completely in love with a particular flavor, Creations' themes kept me coming back for more. It's all fun and games, until now. 

Y3000. A name that evokes Y2K nostalgia while promising the future. It's fun, it's colorful, it's made with AI. That's right! Artificial Intelligence collaborated with humans to create what might be the most pretentious descriptor of all time. 

This is taken verbatim from their website

Coca‑Cola® Y3000 [Zero Sugar] was co-created with human and artificial intelligence by understanding how fans envision the future through emotions, aspirations, colors, flavors and more. Fans’ perspectives from around the world, combined with insights gathered from artificial intelligence, helped inspire Coca‑Cola to create the unique taste of Y3000.  

Wait, it gets better! (Or worse?)

Coca‑Cola® Y3000 Zero Sugar sports an equally futuristic—and optimistic—visual identity. Co-created with artificial intelligence, the design showcases liquid in a morphing, evolving state, communicated through form and color changes that emphasize a positive future. A light-toned color palette featuring violet, magenta and cyan against a silver base gives a futuristic feel. The iconic Spencerian Script features a connected matrix with fluid dot clusters that merge to represent the human connections of our future planet. 

The dot clusters merge. To represent human connections. Of our future planet. Oof, they really jumped the shark with this one. 

If you're new here, I'm a graphic designer. I went to school for it, it's what pays my bills and brings me joy at my day job. My passion peeks through when I'm discussing colors and design details in packaging, but this is too much. Creations is a novelty soda. I buy it for a boost of serotonin and caffeine, not to speculate on how the aspirations and emotions of a future generation could possibly taste. Give me internet flavored soda, sure! Give me space-flavored soda, I'm on board! But aspirational future human connection-soda? In this economy?! When there are several wars waging? This feels tone deaf, at best. (Did you learn nothing from the god awful Kylie Jenner Pepsi ad? Keurig Dr. Pepper isn't out here promoting pastel-colored optimism and feigning human connectivity as a means to sell plastic bottles full of sugar water, just sayin'.)

If I were Coke, I would have avoided the aspirational language and focused on AI in general. Tell me AI combined all the best selling concepts Coke ever had to create the ultimate flavor. The Coke-iest Coke of all time. That's all you had to do. Fun, weird, robot-soda. But they had to overreach and in doing so it comes off as scummy and over inflated.

Or if Coke wanted to double down on the marketable positivity, have proceeds from this future oriented product go towards some kind of STEM scholarship for kids interested in computer science. You could have tied this product to so many positive things in an effort to CREATE the future you're pitching, instead you do a fashion collab where I can buy a Y3000 soda-top necklace for $340 freaking dollars?! Are you kidding me?! Oh, was that too expensive? Maybe the $165 T-Shirt is more your speed. Wait, it's SOLD OUT?! Forget the future, we're doomed. (No shade to the artist they collaborated with, get that corporate cola bag.)

I should have done more research because this concept is bad and now I feel bad

Safe to say, Y3000's marketing fell flat for me, but what about the beverage itself? 

Starting with a classic sniff-test, it certainly smells different from Classic Coke, but I'm struggling to find the words to describe this experience. 

It's sweet, that's for sure, and I can detect a base of classic caramel-like Coke, but there's more complexity to it. It's a little fruity and kind of botanical. There was a very brief moment in time where I was buying glass bottle sodas from Whole Foods because the packaging was really pretty. (Once a sucker always a sucker.) The bottles were so fancy, and made me feel so cool, but they tasted bad. Like perfume or something not meant to be drunk. (At least not for fun anyway.) That is what this reminds me of. 

Taking a sip, it's no where near as bad as the Whole Foods colas I remember, but it's easily my least favorite Creations product (so far.) 

It tastes sweet, a little root-like, but not root-beer. Maybe birch or something along those lines, and there's a creamy candy-like finish. If I took normal Coke, mixed it with a non-brand-specific cream soda, and topped it off with birch beer, I think I'd get pretty close to whatever this is. 

It's interesting, and I can drink it, no problem, but it's not very enjoyable. It gets a, "meh," from me.

Turns out it wasn't just the tone deaf concept that left a bad taste in my mouth. Here's hoping that the next Creations product is less presumptuous and more playful. 

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