Later I’ll give a fuller report from our Southern Road Trip, but while it’s fresh, I thought I’d report on our visit to The World of Coca-Cola, a new Atlanta tourist destination all about, well, Coca-Cola.
I’ve been to a similar, though much smaller, attraction in Las Vegas, which I enjoyed. I have a strange respect for Coca-Cola’s business history, which I learned through the fascinating book, For God, Country, and Coca-Cola. I say this to suggest that I don’t simply pooh-pooh such brazen attempts at marketing-through-theme-attraction (and really, isn’t that just what Disneyland was, anyway?)
Speaking of Disneyland, though, Coca-Cola could have learned something from Disneyland. And that thing, that one simple thing, is quality. Particularly of the two specially-made film (well, probably digital video) entertainment, The Happiness Factory, and The Secret Formula 4-D Theater. The first is a film that *all* attendees much walk, a 7-minute (though it felt like 15) “documentary” of what happens when you put a coin in a Coke vending machine. It cops the style that Nick Park created for his Creature Comforts short (and which has been used by Chevron in their teevee ads) — interviews with various folks about what it’s like for them to do what they do. The Happiness Factory is hackneyed and not particularly inventive, and it was interesting to see just how little the audience reacted to the “spectacle” and the “jokes.” The second was a quasi-ride, similar in some ways to Star Tours at Disneyland/world, where you sit in a theater and “experience” what is happening on the screen. The acting was *so poor*, the story such a repeatedly pathetic sop to the Magic of Coca-Cola, and the seat effects *so annoying* that I simply couldn’t wait to leave.
I’d love to know more about how these two features were created. They felt *very much* like the products of committee, where any truly interesting idea was filtered out as it passed through too many hands, until all that was left was bland, inoffensive, rah-rah with no charm nor personality whatsoever. What’s strange is that Coke *can* produce good video — their recent “videogame” ad is brilliant.
Anyway, there is some decent stuff — the historic walkthrough has cool old stuff, the bottling works actually works (if you end up seeing stuff oddly out of order). Oh, and drinking flavors from around the world is a blast. But, in the end, we both felt like we’d wasted our time and money.