Coke Rewrites History in 'Unbelievable' March Madness Ads

1983 was never like this!

Remember the frenzied finish to the 1983 NCAA men's basketball championship game, when victorious North Caroline State center Cozell McQueen perched atop the hoop with a bottle of Cherry-Vanilla Coke, and brand signage, as the crowd went wild?

Of course you don't. It didn't happen that way.

But check out the impressive headfake—or deepfake, or whatever you want to call it—in Coca-Cola's "Unbelievable Doubt Take" commercial below, as the soft-drink giant inserts 3-D product shots into that famous celebration from 38 years ago.

UM created the spot with production house Ryff. Coke explains that "first-time, cutting-edge 3-D product models were rendered into iconic sports scenes that were filmed in standard definition formats, a truly unique marriage between new and old."
 
Coke believes the technique "will bring generations of audiences together and pay tribute to iconic sports moments," promising more product-infused highlights from the '80s, '90s and '00s. The fakery somewhat recalls State Farm's lauded 2020 put-ons touting The Last Dance, in which ESPN SportCenter hosts appeared to predict the existence of the documentary about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls nearly a quarter-century ago.

Separately, werewolves and centaurs, which aren't real either (we think), enact an unlikely convenience-store romance in Coke's other March Madness ads:

Coca-Cola | Pit Stop
Coca-Cola | First Time

Anomaly and Smuggler unleashed those howlers, which evoke a Regan-era Teen Wolf vibe.

"We were inspired by iconic '80s movies, the ones where misfits and outcasts find love, friendship or just a sense of belonging," Coke says. "They might be misunderstood at first, but their undeniable appeal always shines through, and they end up stealing the show. We had a lot of fun coming up with these unbelievable characters and creating parallels between them and Coke flavors."

CREDITS

"Double Takes"
Chris Elliot, Director End to End Connections + Media, Coca-Cola  
Kate Santore, Director Content Excellence, Coca-Cola
Michael Hughes, Senior Sports Marketing Manager, Coca-Cola
Matt Cordes, Partner Integrated Investment, UM
Molly Zimmerman, Partner Integrated Investment, UM
Brooke Lyon, Partner, UM
Rob Hersey, Group Creative Director, UM Studios
Roberto Rubio, Associate Creative Director, UM Studios
Jessica Klien, Group Content Director, UM Studios
Sara Goldman, Content Manager, UM Studios
Alex Treiber, Producer, UM Studios
Roy Taylor, CEO, Ryff
Sarah Coursey, Global Sales, Ryff
Aex Reed, Head of Production, Ryff
 
"Pit Stop," "First Time"
Creative Agency: Anomaly
Production Partners: Smuggler, Work Editorial, MPC LA

Brand Text
Octagon
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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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