In a business and marketing sense, I do believe that it was the better strategy to to have Coca Cola position itself as the "low-calorie" beverage towards Americans rather than the "diet drink" like those in Europe, but it could have been planned better so that it didn't feel so offensive to other cultures. What's so different about Coke Zero and Diet Coke? Honestly, not that much. According to this article on
"Coke Zero has 0.5 kilocalories per 100ml while Diet Coke contains 1 calorie. It’s been believed that men are more reluctant to buy diet coke because the word ‘diet’ associated with women. Therefore, to market the product ‘Coke Zero’ been produced to associate masculinity. "
In America, masculinity plays a very important and vital role to represent one's strength, power, and independence. The image that many Americans portray as being a true "man" is maintaining a strong and large physique, showing few to no emotions, and basically playing a dominant role. Words like "diet" represent femininity in the American culture. On the other hand, Europeans happen to portray a softer image compared to the "American standard". In this article I found from the American Men's Studies Association, it explains how Americans come across or see the European culture as more feminine, and those that do not fit the image of manhood fall into the category of being either European or gay.
With all this in mind, though both concepts of a "low calorie" and a "diet" beverage are pretty much the same, however, the name can play a crucial role to how it markets to its audience due to the difference in each one's pop culture.
I don't believe that the idea of the "fake blog" to promote Coke Zero was COMPLETELY unethical because it was just a faster and more efficient way of surveying customers, basically. Yes, this blog did stir up some negative comments, but Coca Cola did achieve its main objective to globally get its "Coke Zero" name across to its audience. Coca Cola probably already knew what was to happen when these blogs were launched, but knowing that they could afford to deal with what's to happen so that they could promote their new product showed that this idea/ purpose was indeed ridiculous, but their goal was reached. In the end, consumers still purchased Coke Zero products with no hesitation, and the name is now globally known. It's all about getting your name out there, and it's like that for everybody (not just products). Even people nowadays would do practically anything just so that they are recognized throughout the world.
Aside from the Coke Zero product, another unsuccessful product would be the Ayds Diet Candy, trying to promote a "healthy" diet for consumers. Though this was created long before the disease of Aids were a major issue or known, it was still unsuccessful in that it was trying to promote the idea of not eating properly and exercising, and instead, just eating this candy diet product. Soon when the disease finally hit and became a great concern by the 1980s, the company was forced to to change its name due to sales drop to about 50% from the publicity of AIDS. Even though the name was changed, the product was soon dropped out from the market.