March 01, 2006

The Coca-Cola Co. Threatens My Raison d'Etre

LONGTIME RANT READERS know that while Diet Cherry Coke is my primary soda of choice, Tab soda has long been a distant second here at Casa Ben. You see, in addition to having a weird, too-sweet cola taste that for some reason I enjoy, Tab has a certain cachet to it.

For one thing, hardly any of my visitors can figure out how I manage to buy the stuff*. For another, no one can believe I actually drink it on occasion. For a third, visitors to my humble abode will have at least one Tab with me, just because they can. Besides, it's Tab. It's the "Cola-Flavored Beverage So Not With It, It's With It." It's the soda that hearkens back to simpler times, when people had ugly wood cabinetry in their kitchens and mustard-colored davenports in their living rooms. It's the soda that made you think, "Gee, the Russians should be here any second now."

But now, I've been betrayed.

According to various news sources, the Coca-Cola Co. has created yet another version of Tab -- a horrible new energy-drink version that they're using horrible new celebrities to horribly promote. There's a real danger that this new Tab, called Tab Energy, could very well become horribly popular. That would be bad.

Fortunately, I feel I can't be alone in thinking this way. According to FOX News, which cited a recent article in The New Yorker, "the original TaB Cola is essentially dead from a marketing and sales standpoint, (but) it has maintained a loyal cult of followers, particularly among writers and other edge-dwelling characters who seem drawn to the strange dance with danger associated with an allegedly carcinogenic drink."

Speaking personally, I'm drawn to it because it makes people say things like, "I haven't seen a can of Tab since 'Kramer vs. Kramer' came out in theatres." But that's just me. Quite frankly, it horrifies me that one of my bastions of eccentricity is in danger of being co-opted by Hollywood. Witness the wretched news, from FOX:


And weight-conscious celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie have already been seen tossing back a cold one.

"Nicole Richie and Fergie (from the Black-Eyed Peas) were seen guzzling TaB Energy drink all over Manhattan," said Jarett Wieselman, senior lifestyle editor for In Touch Weekly magazine. "And when these two put their stamp of approval on a product, expect other celebrities to follow suit." ...

.... Aside from Lohan, Richie and Fergie, other women (and one man) with a sense of style and purpose who were also spotted pounding back a TaB Energy at Fashion Week include Missy Elliott, Pamela Anderson, JC Chasez, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Kimberly Stewart and Christina Milian.


You can see how dire this is.

Yeah, I know the story seems a bit much. After all, it's hard to trust a man who actually uses the phrase "guzzle" in speech, unless the word is used in conjunction with "fell into the vat down at the brewery." And I suppose there's only one "A-list" celebrity mentioned, so the danger may be limited.

Still, even if Tab Energy were to fail -- like the seven or so Tab variants before it -- it could still be too late to repair the damage caused by a massive but flawed marketing campaign. I mean, look at Coca-Cola's new Tab Web site. Look upon the Coca-Cola Co.'s works and despair!

It's PERKY, for God's sake. THE TAB WEB SITE IS PERKY.

Tab drinkers are not perky. Tab drinkers are world-weary and cynical and torn between their own inner romanticism and outer frigidity. They are not "fabulous," something the Coca-Cola Co. would have you believe of Tab Energy drinkers. They simply want a little bit of metallic-tasting soda when they come home from a hard day at the office. That's it. No nightclubs, no wretched platitudes, no finding oneself and most definitely no Chihuahuas stuffed and choking inside a Louis Vuitton purse. Just. Tab.

As such, this new "Tab Energy" campaign needs to stop, before Tab drinkers everywhere are seen as happy, well-adjusted people who want to go out and buy the world a Coke. Because Tab drinkers think if the world wants a Coke, it should go out and buy one itself. We can't have this image ruined. As such, I call upon the Coca-Cola Co. to find other ways to feature their new, yet blasphemous and foul, Tab Energy beverage product.

Say, I know. How about using some Olympic athletes from Team USA?

Oh, while I'm thinking of it, it'd be nice if the Coca-Cola Co. would increase its supply of Diet Cherry Coke, specifically that packaged in 20 oz. bottles, within the Northeast. Thank you.

* For reasons I don't entirely understand, Tab is available in New Hampshire at supermarkets, but according to visitors more difficult to find elsewhere.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 1, 2006 08:01 PM | TrackBack

Hey Ben,

Great reflection on TAB ... very well-written. You should find a mainstream publisher for this! :-)

I appreciate TAB myself, though I don't have your cultish devotion to it. I remember when it was basically the only diet-cola in town. I fondly remember being in college, washing down a slab of glazed doughnuts with a 16-ounce bottle of TAB. Yes, thanks to TAB, I was able to delay the onset of morbid obesity! :-)

It seems to me back in the mid-80s, around the time Diet Coke was introduced, the Coca Cola company began marketing TAB as primarily a beverage for the female gender, which was disheartening. Of course, Diet Coke really was a quantum leap in guilt-free pop technology -- if only because it contained "Coke" in its name.

A few years ago, I spotted (to my amazement) some TAB on display at a local IGA. I bought it as a novelty/nostalgia item, and consumed it with much enjoyment. That being said, I haven't made a point of going back for more!

TAB had a very catchy jingle -- I can still recall it. "TAB - TAB Cola! ..."

Finally, I did notice the TAB Energy Drink in the stores recently, which I found to be somewhat bewildering. But then, I'm not really into the whole energy drink thing anyway -- apart from the gallons of Folger's I mainline daily.

Anyway, thanks for this delightful stroll down memory lane.

Posted by: Uncle Dave at March 2, 2006 08:47 AM

Yes, this is an extremely clever bit of writing. Still I came away from reading it and the associated comment with the feeling that a disturbing strain of cola taste preferences is running amock in the Kepple gene pool. Let's be clear; products carrying the original Coca Cola branding (and line extensions) are the only true Kepple family drinks. This was firmly established during the 1950's when the "Sunday Coke" ritual was first instituted in Delmont, Pennsylvania.

Posted by: Swammi in Solon at March 4, 2006 09:18 AM

Well, despite my admittedly shocking variance with Tab, rest assured that Diet Coke and its related products remain far and away the drink of choice here in New Hampshire!

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at March 4, 2006 11:49 AM