Coca-Cola Bets on Jonah Hill, Martin Scorsese for Super Bowl Energy Boost TV Campaign

Jonah Hill just wanted to see his friend Martin Scorsese. Coca-Cola wanted to make an interesting Super Bowl commercial. Somehow, those two goals came together.

The soda giant has enlisted actor Hill and director Scorsese in a Super Bowl effort that bucks its traditions for the event. For years, Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl entrances have focused on its flagship namesake beverage and touted themes of unity and inclusion. But in 2020, with consumers showing a yen for new kinds of drinks, Coca-Cola will give the promotional spotlight to another product.

The 60-second ad will play up Coca-Cola Energy, the first energy drink made available in the U.S. under the Coca-Cola name (it’s already available overseas). The drink and its cherry-flavored counterpart has been available in stores since January 20, and Coke is betting that the relationship between Hill and Scorsese will win viewers over during a night when they will see many pitches and product introductions from Madison Avenue.

“The hard part of working with Marty is that you miss him so much after he’s gone,” says Hill in an interview. Hill was in Scorsese’s 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and considers him a friend and mentor.

In the spot, created with the ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, Scorsese finds himself all alone at a party, and reached out to his friend Hill to see when he might be arriving. Unbeknownst to the director, Hill isn’t sure he wants to go. The pair communicate by text message and the world follows their exchange, until a swig of Coca-Cola Energy gives Hill the boost he needs to meet his pal. Hip-hop artist YBN Cordae make a cameo.

Coca-Cola executives initially reached out to Hill for the ad, says Geoff Cottrill , senior vice president of strategic marketing for Coca-Cola, in an interview, and were hoping he might have an idea for someone to play the friend waiting for him. “I think it’s a great example of how the creative process can work when you hire talent to be in a spot and you work with them to make the creative better,” says Cottrill. “We would never have gotten to Martin Scorsese if it hadn’t been for Jonah. His perspective made our story a lot better.”

Many large food and beverage companies are using the Super Bowl to nod to shifting consumer preferences with a bevy of new products. Anheuser-Busch InBev, for example, will use this year’s event to introduce a Bud Light Seltzer.

Coca-Cola has in recent months added several new products to its mix, including an orange vanilla version of its popular drink. The company unveiled a cinnamon-flavored Coca-Cola around the holidays, along with a winter spiced cranberry version of Sprite. There are plans in the works to introduce cherry vanilla, says Jaideep Kibe, vice president of Coca-Cola Trademark, Coca-Cola North America. The new Coca-Cola Energy drinks include 114 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce. serving, as well as guarana extracts and B-vitamins.

Consumers are showing interest in new “lifestyles and tastes and preferences,” Kibe says, which prompts the companies that cater to them to “respond and change.”

Coca-Cola has already teased the ad with a short video of Scorsese’s trademark glasses reflecting the three dots one sees when one is waiting for a friend to respond to a text. The hashtag accompanying the commercial is #ShowUp, a nod to the themes of the spot. But the storyline may continue on Monday, after game play is over.

Coca-Cola is extending the push to “show up” beyond the Big Game to Monday morning, which many Americans use as a day to recuperate after a night of Super Bowl partying.The company will, in a collaboration with Amazon, distribute free samples of Coca-Cola Energy to New York commuters from 7 a.m. until noon eastern on Monday, Feb. 3 at Grand Central Terminal in Vanderbilt Hall, while Amazon Treasure Trucks will do the same in 29 U.S. cities. Amazon Alexa users also can order the products by saying “Alexa, Order Coke Energy.”

The whole thing hinges on whether Super Bowl viewers see themselves in the situation that envelops Hill and Scorsese in the commercial. “We laugh a lot when we are together, and I think that’s what makes the spot ultimately very sweet,” says Hill.