Kim Kardashian and Coca-Cola. Two names that tumble off the tongue in a blend of syllables as crisp as Coke’s nutmeggy tang and fizzy as its soda bubbles. Two household brands equally alliterative, equally omnipresent and equally in love.

Kim is a dyed-in-the-syrup Diet Coke stan to a degree that no other unendorsed Diet Coke sipper could ever hope to approach. It’s an obsession shared to a lesser degree by her entire family, none of whom have ever officially announced a partnership with Coca-Cola.

Yet time and again, quietly but obviously, the Kardashians hawk the goods: there’s Kim posting poised Coke bottles on her Instagram Stories; there’s Khloe and Kim name-dropping Diet Coke on an episode of The Kardashians; there’s Kendall Jenner verrrrry prominently carrying a Coke can in paparazzi photos that Coca-Cola itself had to deny were paid product placement (officially, at least).

Sure, Kim could merely be a fan of Coke. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she is. However, this family is nothing if not intentional.

Like, there is definitely some reason that Kourtney and Travis Barker took a photo in front of a Coke machine, its neon logo bundled into frame like the third wheel in a ménage à trois. This is the couple that turned their wedding into spon-con, remember.

But most things that Kim once promoted this hard have since vanished. Gone are the morning sickness pills and Sugar Bear Hair gummies. Gone are Kanye and Pete Davidson. But not the Coke. The Coke is eternal.

Kim Kardashian’s entire existence is one manicured advertisement. Everything she does is carefully orchestrated to maximize her income, her visibility, her potency. And as such, there’s simply too much Kardashian-Coke collusion to call it a fluke. Twice is a coincidence, thrice is a pattern, and four times is a secret endorsement.

So, what’s going on? Does Kim have a secret deal with Coke?

Well, if it were merely the aforementioned instances, I’d be torn. But things get really interesting when you consider how Kim has embedded Coca-Cola into saleable projects.

I first picked up this thread when Kim covered 032C‘s Winter 2022 issue. The image is pretty uncanny in itself, what with tiny Kim dancing atop big Kim’s outstretched arm, but because it’s also quite stark, the Coca-Cola and Diet Coke cans sitting humbly in the corner stand out that much more.

The only things you’re being presented here are Kim (and Kim) and Coke.

Then, there’s Kim’s Winter 2023 GQ cover shoot. Cheetos snagged the cover shot — the snack brand is owned by Frito Lay and thus PepsiCo, Coca-Cola’s arch-rival — but there’s nevertheless a Diet Coke can bashfully propped atop Kim’s desk, its straw crimped towards Kim like a serf bending the knee to his queen.

There’s no mistaking the soda’s silver can, even when its logo is partially obscured. And, honestly, the fact that the Diet Coke branding isn’t perfectly framed to face the camera is even better evidence that it was planted, in a Pepe Silvia-kinda way.

It’s impressive that Kim snuck Coke onto third-party magazine covers but showing up with a Coke in shoots for her own brands is no less slick. Talk about product placement.

There’s at least one KKW Beauty shoot where Kim daintily sipped Diet Coke (from a straw no less!) and several SKIMS editorials where Coca-Cola isn’t just present, it’s front, center, and clutched by Kim herself.

This all seems like small potatoes taken individually but as a whole, it paints an expiration-proof picture of perhaps the greatest undeclared subliminal influencer campaign of our generation. Well, give or take. I’m just asking questions here!

There are some wrinkles, though: for one, note how all of the logos in this SKIMS shoot are all digitally smudged into obscurity, including for some reason, a hapless bottle of Coke.

Why was the Coca-Cola logo removed here when the brand has been so prominent elsewhere? Trouble in paradise? Lovers’ quarrel? Rules of the unspoken sponsorship need not apply unless Kim ‘n Coke are comfortably coupled, hand on can? Unsure.

There remains no clear evidence that Coke has a relationship with Kim or any of her siblings, to be clear. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Or, maybe in this case, where there’s Coke, there’s cash.

And there sure is a lot of Coke.

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