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A Teenager Kicks His "Coke Habit" in a Striking Animated Short

Creative studio Dress Code chronicles the agony of Coke withdrawal.

Nathaniel Ainley

Nathaniel Ainley

Screencaps via Vimeo

When Mike was 16 years old, he found himself in the midst of a stifling Coke addiction. And I don't mean the kind you sniff. I mean the kind you have with lunch once a week. Mike grew up drinking Coca-Cola and became more and more hooked as he got older. "I'd get up in the morning and chug a can of Coke. I'd get to school and have another can. I'd have one or two at lunch. After the final bell, I'd have another. And then another one right when I got home. And then one or two at night." Finally his parents cut him off, refusing to pay for his sugar addiction, and Mike was forced to cut Coke out of his life cold turkey. The excruciating withdrawal pains he experienced are relived in Coke Habit, a cheeky animation from NYC-based creative studio Dress Code.

The glossy animation is riddled with subtle yet creative references to art history and English folklore. The animators create interesting adaptations of surrealist landscapes mastered by Dali and Magritte, as well as the puzzling designs of M.C Escher. Forest scenes are described as a contemporary interpretation of the wondrous writing in the Grimms' Fairy Tales. In Vimeo's write up about the short, Dress Code explains, "Forests remind us of suburban youth—where kids, from middle school to high school, go to hide from the watchful eyes of their parents and do things they aren't supposed to do. It's where they explore and get into trouble, where they find out what they like and don't like, where they grow from children into men."

It's important to note that the production studio that made the short works primarily in advertising and has worked on major campaigns for companies like Sam Adams. Given the producer's background in advertising, it's interesting to consider what the animation is doing from a branding perspective. The brazen shades of red and white so closely associated with the Coca Cola brand are used throughout the entire short. However, instead of creating positive mental associations with those colors, like in traditional advertisements, Dress Code uses them to communicate physical and emotional turmoil. As the studio tells Vimeo, "Throughout the history of design, the color red has also been used in agitprop posters and protest art. This dichotomy between the two associations of the color seemed fitting, since our film is somewhere between a testimonial and a piece of propaganda."

But, as Vimeo's Staff points out in their write up, at the end of the day, the video serves as a candid profile of substance abuse and a reminder that harmful dependency can manifest in ways you would never suspect. Check out the video below:

Check out more works by Dress Code on their website.

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