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The Diet Coke bloke: an evolution

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Anna Brech
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The first Diet Coke hunk ad conjures up a powerful sense of mid-Nineties nostalgia: it's right up there with PJ and Duncan, Seattle being the centre of the universe and double light-wash denim.

It was so successful that two spin-offs followed and a third has just hit the airwaves, starring lawn-mowing model Andrew Cooper. The timeless appeal of these commercials isn't just about the gorgeous leads or the iconic Etta James power ballad, but also the brilliant minutiae; the giant pearl earrings, old-school beige telephones and abundance of gratuitous lip-licking.

As a new "hunk" gets set for the spotlight next month, we take a look at the cultural phenomenon that is the Diet Coke ad...

The original hunk - 1994

Diet Coke's very first hunk ad is a homage to the power of pearl earrings and seriously cool specs. Your average pencil skirt of today's office has nothing on these ladies with their waistcoats, pinstripes, bead necklaces and glasses so out-there they'd put Gaga to shame.

Watch out for the over-excited Lizzy Jagger lookalike at 14 seconds and of course, the hunk himself - played by model Lucky Vanous - who inexplicably loses his top before cracking open a can in the most sexually loaded tea break you're ever likely to see.

The window washer - 1997

Window cleaning is a seriously sweaty business for the model in the 1997 ad. With only a touch of theatricality, he whips out his drink in front of a host of eager ladies waiting for a mystery 11.30 "appointment." Whatever they're booked in for, it's the most accommodating service ever - not only do they get to waltz past reception (en masse) they also get spectacular views of a city skyline, as well as the obligatory eye candy.

"I was excited to say the least. It was the job that everybody wanted. It was huge!" says Robert Merrill, who played the ad's token hunk.

The lift engineer - 2007

Health & Safety would have a field day over the antics of these women in the 2007 commercial - but then again it's not every day you get a smouldering engineer in your elevator. And it's a great way of breaking those awkward lift silences.

It's also worth noting that office wear has become much sleeker and with fewer accessories.

This time, it's the women who are drinking the Coke. Cue: lots of licking of lips and suggestive close-ups of can lids. Who knew condensation could be quite so sexy?

The guy in question is French economics graduate Francois Xavier.

The gardener - 2013

The latest offering from Diet Coke features a picnic like no other. First off, it's minus your usual flurry of Tesco carrier bags, hyperactive dogs and comedy napkins from last Christmas. Secondly, it just happens to involve a sexy man mowing a lawn. One of the picnic-goers fixes him with a maniacal gaze before rolling a can of Coke down the hill to him (they're generous these women).

He predictably sprays it all over himself and is obliged to take off his top. Shocker.

The machine-handy hunk in question is Andrew Cooper, a father-of-two who part-owns a Notting Hill pet store called The Mutz Nutz.

Words: Anna Brech

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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