Wednesday, 3 April 2013

OUGD501 // Theory to Practice // Coca Cola

Atlanta Beginnings

It was 1886, and in New York Harbour, workers were constructing the Statue of Liberty. Eight hundred miles away, another great American symbol was about to be unveiled.

Like many people who change history, John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, was inspired by simple curiosity. One afternoon, he stirred up a fragrant, caramel-coloured liquid and, when it was done, he carried it a few doors down to Jacobs' Pharmacy. Here, the mixture was combined with carbonated water and sampled by customers who all agreed - this new drink was something special. So Jacobs' Pharmacy put it on sale for five cents (about 3p) a glass.

Pemberton's bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, named the mixture Coca-Cola, and wrote it out in his distinctive script. To this day, Coca-Cola is written the same way. In the first year, Pemberton sold just nine glasses of Coca-Cola a day. A century later, The Coca-Cola Company has produced more than 10 billion gallons of syrup.

Over the course of three years, between 1888-1891, Atlanta businessman Asa Griggs Candler secured rights to the business for a total of about $2,300 (about £1,500). Candler would become Coca-Cola's first president, and the first to bring real vision to the business and the brand.

Beyond Atlanta

Asa Candler, a natural born salesman, transformed Coca-Cola from an invention into a business. He knew there were thirsty people out there, and Candler found brilliant and innovative ways to introduce them to this exciting new refreshment. He gave away coupons for complimentary first tastes of Coca-Cola, and outfitted distributing pharmacists with clocks, urns, calendars and apothecary scales bearing the Coca-Cola brand. People saw Coca-Cola everywhere, and the aggressive promotion worked. By 1895, Candler had built syrup plants in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Inevitably, the drink's popularity led to a demand for it to be enjoyed in new ways. In 1894, a Mississippi businessman named Joseph Biedenharn became the first to put Coca-Cola in bottles. He sent 12 of them to Candler, who responded without enthusiasm. Despite being a brilliant and innovative businessman, he didn't realise then that the future of Coca-Cola would be with portable, bottled beverages customers could take anywhere. He still didn't realise it five years later, when, in 1899, two Chattanooga lawyers, Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead, secured exclusive rights from Candler to bottle and sell the beverage - for the sum of only one dollar.

Safeguarding the brand

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but The Coca-Cola Company was none too pleased about the proliferation of copycat beverages taking advantage of its success. Coca-Cola was a great product, and a great brand. Both needed to be protected. Advertising focused on the authenticity of Coca-Cola, urging consumers to 'Demand the genuine' and 'Accept no substitute'.

The company also decided to create a distinctive bottle shape to assure people they were actually getting a real Coca-Cola. The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, won a contest to design a bottle that could be recognised in the dark. In 1916, they began manufacturing the famous contour bottle. The contour bottle, which remains the signature shape of Coca-Cola today, was chosen for its attractive appearance, original design and the fact that, even in the dark, you could identify the genuine article.

As the country roared into the new century, The Coca-Cola Company grew rapidly, moving into Canada, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, France, and other countries and US territories. In 1900, there were two bottlers of Coca-Cola; by 1920, there were about 1,000.

The Woodruff legacy

Perhaps no person had more impact on The Coca-Cola Company than Robert Woodruff. In 1923, four years after his father Ernest purchased the company from Asa Candler, Woodruff became the company's president. While Candler had introduced the US to Coca-Cola, Woodruff would spend more than 60 years as company leader introducing the beverage to the world beyond.

Woodruff was a marketing genius, who saw opportunities for expansion everywhere. He led the expansion of Coca-Cola overseas and in 1928 introduced Coca-Cola to the Olympic Games for the first time when Coca-Cola travelled with the US team to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Woodruff pushed development and distribution of the six-pack and many other innovations that made it easier for people to drink Coca-Cola at home or away. This new thinking made Coca-Cola not just a huge success, but a big part of people's lives.

The war and its legacy

In 1941, America entered World War II. Thousands of men and women were sent overseas. The country, and Coca-Cola, rallied behind them. Woodruff ordered that 'every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents, wherever he is, and whatever it costs the company'. In 1943, General Dwight D Eisenhower sent an urgent cablegram to Coca-Cola, requesting shipment of materials for 10 bottling plants. During the war, many people enjoyed their first taste of the beverage, and when peace finally came, the foundations were laid for Coca-Cola to do business overseas.

Woodruff's vision that Coca-Cola be placed within 'arm's reach of desire' was coming true - from the mid-1940s until 1960, the number of countries with bottling operations nearly doubled. Post-war America was alive with optimism and prosperity. Coca-Cola was part of a fun, carefree American lifestyle, and the imagery of its advertising - happy couples at the drive-in, carefree mums driving big yellow convertibles - reflected the spirit of the times.

A world of customers

After 70 years of success with one brand, Coca-Cola, the company decided to expand with new flavours. Fanta, originally developed in the 1940s, was introduced in the 1950s, while Sprite followed in 1961, with TAB in 1963 and Fresca in 1966.

The company's presence worldwide was growing rapidly, and year after year, Coca-Cola found a home in more and more places: Cambodia, Montserrat, Paraguay, Macau, Turkey and more.

Advertising for Coca-Cola, always an important and exciting part of its business, really came into its own in the 1970s, and reflected a brand connected with fun, friends and good times. The international appeal of Coca-Cola was embodied by a 1971 commercial, where a group of young people from all over the world gathered on a hilltop in Italy to sing I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke.

Diet Coke and new Coke

The 1980s - the era of legwarmers, headbands and the fitness craze, and a time of much change and innovation at The Coca-Cola Company. In 1981, Roberto C Goizueta became chairman of the board of directors and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. Goizueta completely overhauled the company with a strategy he called 'intelligent risk taking'.

Among his bold moves was organising the numerous US bottling operations into a new public company, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. He also led the introduction of Diet Coke, the very first extension of the Coca-Cola trademark. Within two years, it had become the top low calorie drink in the world, second in success only to Coca-Cola.

One of Goizueta's other initiatives, in 1985, was the release of a new taste for Coca-Cola, the first change in formulation in 99 years. In taste tests, people loved the new formula, commonly called New Coke. In the real world, they had a deep emotional attachment to the original, and they begged and pleaded to get it back. Critics called it the biggest marketing blunder ever. Coca-Cola listened, and the original formula was returned to the market as Coca-Cola Classic, and the product began to increase its lead over the competition - a lead that continues to this day.

New markets and brands

The 1990s were a time of continued growth for The Coca-Cola Company. The company's long association with sports was strengthened during this decade, with ongoing support of the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup™ football, the Rugby World Cup and the National Basketball Association.

The year 1993 saw the introduction of the popular Always Coca-Cola advertising campaign, and the world met the lovable Coca-Cola Polar Bear for the first time. New markets opened up as Coca-Cola products were sold in East Germany in 1990 and returned to India in 1993.

New beverages joined Coca-Cola's line-up, including Powerade sports drinks and Oasis fruit drinks. Coca-Cola's family of brands further expanded through acquisitions, including Limca, Maaza and Thums Up in India, Barq's root beer in the US, Inca Kola in Peru, and Cadbury Schweppes beverage brands in more than 120 countries around the world. By 1997, Coca-Cola already sold one billion servings of its products every day, yet knew that opportunity for growth was still around every corner.


The last decade marked an increase in Coca-Cola's efforts to create a sustainable framework for the future. In 2009, the company launched Live Positively - a public commitment to making a positive difference in the world by redesigning the way we work and live so that sustainability is part of everything we do. Live Positively includes goals for providing and tailoring beverages for every lifestyle, supporting active, healthy living programmes, building sustainable communities, reducing and recycling our packaging, cutting our carbon emissions, establishing a sustainable water operation and creating a safe, inclusive work environment for all.

The company has continued to build on existing relationships with global sports events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and prepare for the London 2012 Olympics Games, and the company continued to nurture our affiliation with the Special Olympics, which began in 1968.

Coca-Cola has remained dedicated to offering quality drinks for every lifestyle and occasion, marketing those beverages responsibly and providing information that consumers can trust. As of 2008, Coca-Cola can count more than 160 low and no calorie drinks in the company's range, such as Coke Zero and Powerade Zero. The company now also lists the nutritional information on the front of all drinks in Great Britain with plans to roll out worldwide.

No comments:

Post a Comment