Two years ago, New York-based production company Dress Code began talking to one of their in-house editors about his adolescent addiction to Coca-Cola. Having spent ages searching for a story they deemed worth the time and money of an animated documentary, Mike Cook’s unique and eccentric tale felt ideal. The resulting animated short Coke Habit, is an unconventional look at the complexities of childhood addiction.
Semi-inspired by a series of anti-drug PSA’s that were ubiquitous on American televisions during the Reagan era, Coke Habit is Dress Code’s very first in-house animated documentary. Featuring creative references to a plethora of iconic and historic artworks – including Salvador Dali and Giorgio de Chirico – it also cleverly utilises the beverage brand in question’s familiar colour palette of red, black and white.
“Throughout the history of design, the color red has also been used in agitprop posters and protest art,” Dress Code explained to Vimeo. “This dichotomy between the two associations of the color seemed fitting, since our film is somewhere between a testimonial and a piece of propaganda.”
To tell the story of Mike’s ‘coke habit’ – wherein he became so obsessed with consuming Coca-Cola in the 10th grade that he eventually wound up in a neurologists office – animated, fluid transitions take the viewer and protagonist from foreboding forest settings to mazes that seem to have no end. While it’s sometimes unnerving, the visuals are meant to reflect the degree of isolation and fear that accompanies addiction.
Taking them two years to complete, the team at Dress Code demonstrated a remarkable level of creative adaptability throughout the process. Commercial jobs had to be balanced alongside the passion project, trusted team members were lost to new jobs, and new ones with very different skill sets were acquired. Dress Code pushed on despite the challenges, encouraging the newcomers to lend their talents where needed, and the result is a humorous, tender, and effective examination of an important topic.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the finished piece and our team, present, and past, who sweat so hard to bring it to life,” the company says. “We don’t know what’s going to come of it, or if it will lead to any commercial work, but that’s the risk you take when making no compromises.”
Produced and Directed by: Dress Code
Executive Producers: Dan Covert + Andre Andreev
Producer: Tara Rose Stromberg
Production Coordinator: Nick Stromberg
Art Director: Marcin Zeglinkski
Design: Maddie Edgar, Josh Parker, Mercy Lomelin, Marcin Zeglinski
Lead Animator: Marcin Zeglinski
Animation: Evan Anthony, Erika Bernetich, Yuval Haker, Vincenzo Lodigiani, Mercy Lomelin, Rasmus Löwenbrååt, Andy Mastrocinque, Josh Parker, Eddie Song
Music & Sound: YouTooCanWoo
Story by: Mike Cook, Dan Covert, Tyler Jensen, Marcin Zeglinski