One of the biggest launches of the year kicks off this summer as Coca-Cola Enterprises zooms in on 20 to 29-year-old men in a bid to woo them back to the real thing. This could be make or break for the soft drinks giant, whose Zero launch aims to kick some life into carbonates by targeting men with a no-sugar health proposition.
But are men interested in what has been taken out of a product? Are they motivated by zero calories?
Men are different animals to women. For women, health is all about beauty, but for men it's about performance. This is why men can justify the goodness in a pasty (they see it as fuelling and satisfying), while women worry whether it'll go straight onto their hips.
Yes, CCE have got it right in not going down the diet route - but Zero is not the way to go either. For men, being lean and strong is the ultimate goal. That's why Atkins was so successful. Eat meat and eat yourself lean - a man's dream diet. What Atkins offered in the short term, sport gives them long term. Men are realising that it's not the size of their pay packets that gives them sex appeal, but the size of their waistlines - and a six-pack is the latest accessory.
But men are performance and power-driven. They judge a product by what it can do and measure success by the effort it takes to get there. Men are born with a desire to be athletic, to lead, to win - their physiology craves physical exertion and they need the fuel, the nutrition and the mindset to get there. That's why Lucozade Sport is such a successful masculine brand. Men believe it performs a credible role in helping them to stretch further.
Other male brands that have hit the spot are Gillette, Red Bull, Ginsters and my own brand, For Goodness Shakes. What they all have in common is that they are self-prescribed by men to score or conquer fatigue, hunger and weakness. CCE should learn from this.
Whether it's because of the media's obsession with celebrity sports stars, the growing circulation of Men's Health, the health lobby or Jamie Oliver, men have never been so 'on the ball' about what's good and bad for them. Sport and fitness are no longer the aspirations of tomorrow. Men want to eat like athletes today.
Real food values and added functionality are the future. Sport drinks remain star performers and sales of smoothies, juice and milk drinks are going through the roof.
But men are wary of 'weird' and artificial ingredients like aspartame. These nasties fight against what men want, and sales reflect this. So, out goes fizzy pop and in comes real function and simplicity.
The Utopian fizz-land created and dominated by Coca-Cola is over. In two years' time, we'll be saying: "Remember Fanta? Remember Tango?" Never before have men been offered such a powerhouse of health-nourishing milk drinks, vitamin-rich juice, energising sports drinks or life-giving water.
So, will Zero turn around the long-term fortunes of CCE? It can't.
Men who find Coca-Cola too sugary already drink Diet Coke. Those who've left the brand are now drinking healthier alternatives.
The soft drinks brands that are in line to conquer the male pound are those that understand how men think and how to tap into their desire for performance and health.
Men have zero tolerance for 'look what's been taken out' empty products. Functional, heroic goodness is what men want. So clear the shelves for Lucozade, Innocent, For Goodness Shakes, Copella and Tropicana.