Coca-Cola And Its Evolution
The Coca-Cola company started out as an insignificant one
man business and over the last one hundred and ten years it has grown into
one of the largest companies in the world. The first operator of the company
was Dr. John Pemberton and the current operator is Roberto Goizueta. Without
societies help, Coca-Cola could not have become over a 50 billion dollar
Coca-Cola was invented by Dr. John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist. He
concocted the formula in a three legged brass kettle in his backyard on May
8, 1886. He mixed a combination of lime, cinnamon, coca leaves, and the seeds
of a Brazilian shrub to make the fabulous beverage(Things go better with Coke
14). Coca-Cola debuted in Atlanta's largest pharmacy, Jacob's Pharmacy, as a
five cent non-
carbonated beverage. Later on, the carbonated water was added to the syrup to
make the beverage that we know today as Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola was originally used as a nerve and brain tonic and a medical
elixir. Coca-Cola was named by Frank Robinson, one of Pemberton's close
friends, he also penned the famous Coca-Cola logo in unique script. Dr. John
Pemberton sold a portion of the Coca-Cola company to Asa Candler, after
Pemberton's death the remainder was sold to Candler. Pemberton was forced to
sell because he was in a state of poor health and was in debt. He had paid
$76.96 for advertising, but he only made $50.00 in profits. Candler acquired
the whole company for $2,300(Coca-Cola multiple pages).
Candler achieved a lot during his time as owner of the company. On January
31, 1893, the famous Coca-Cola formula was patented. He also opened the first
syrup manufacturing plant in 1884. His great achievement was large scale
bottling of Coca-Cola in 1899. In 1915, The Root Glass Company made the
contour bottle for the Coca-Cola company. Candler aggressively advertised
Coca-Cola in newspapers and on billboards. In the newspapers, he would give
away coupons for a free Coke at any fountain. Coca-Cola was sold after the
Prohibition Era to Ernest Woodruff for 25 million dollars. He gave Coca-Cola
to his son, Robert Woodruff, who would be president for six decades(Facts,
Figures, and Features Multiple pages).
Robert Woodruff was an influential man in Atlanta because of his
contributions to area colleges, universities, businesses and organizations.
When he made a contribution, he would never leave his name, this is how he
became to be known as "Mr. Anonymous." Woodruff introduced the six
bottle carton in 1923. He also made Coca-Cola available through vending
machine in 1929, that same year, the Coca-
Cola bell glass was made available. He started advertising on the radio in
the 1930s and on the television in 1950. Currently Coca-Cola is advertised on
over five hundred TV channels around the world. In 1931, he introduced the
Coke Santa as a Christmas promotion and it caught on. Candler also introduced
the twelve ounce Coke can in 1960. The Coca-Cola contour bottle was patented
in 1977. The two liter bottle was introduced in 1978, the same year the company
also introduced plastic bottles(Coca-Cola multiple pages).
Woodruff did have one dubious distinction, he raised the syrup prices for
distributors. But he improved efficiency at every step of the manufacturing
process. Woodruff also increased productivity by improving the sales
department, emphasizing quality control, and beginning large-scale
advertising and promotional campaigns. Woodruff made Coke available in every
state of the Union through the soda fountain. For all of these achievements
he earned the name, "The Boss"(Facts, Figures, and Features
In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company made what has been known as one of the biggest
marketing blunder. The Coca-Cola company stumbled onto the new formula in
efforts to produce diet Coke. They put forth 4 million dollars of research to
come up with the new formula. The decision to change their formula and pull
the old Coke off the market came about because taste tests showed a distinct
preference for the new formula. The new formula was a sweeter variation with
less tang, it was also slightly smoother(Demott 54).
Robert Woodruff's death was a large contributor to the change because he
stated that he would never change Coca-Cola's formula. Another factor that
influenced the change was that Coke's market share fell 2.5 percent in four
years. Each percentage point lost or gain meant 200 million dollars. A
financial analyst said, "Coke's market share fell from 24.3 percent in
1980 to 21.8 percent in 1984"(Things go better with Coke 14). This was
the first flavor change since the existence of the Coca-
The change was announced April 23, 1985 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at the
Lincoln Center. Some two hundred TV and newspaper reporters attended this
very glitzy announcement. It included a question and answer session, a
history of Coca-Cola, and many other elements(Oliver 131). The debut was
accompanied by an advertising campaign that revived the Coca-Cola theme song
of the early 1970s, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke"(Say it ain't
so, Coke 24). The Jingle read like this:
I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony.
I'd like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company.
The change to the world's best selling soft drink was heard by 81 percent of
the United States population within twenty-four hours of the announcement.
Within a week of the change, one thousand calls a day were flooding the
company's eight hundred number (1-800-GET-COKE). Most of the callers were
shocked and/or outraged, many said that they were considering switching to
Pepsi. Within six weeks, the eight hundred number was being jammed by six
thousand calls a day. The company also fielded over forty thousand letters,
which were all answered and each person got a coupon for the new Coke. A
retired Air Force officer, explained in a letter to the Coca-Cola company
that he wanted to be cremated and interred in a Coke can, but now that this
change had come about he was reconsidering(Pendergrast Multiple pages).
Sharlotte Donneally, a thirty-six year old anthropologist said, "I hate
the new stuff"(Demott 60). Wendy Koskela, a thirty-five year old vice
president of an insurance company said, "It's too sweet. It tastes like
Pepsi." She also stated, "Real Coke had punch. This taste almost
like it's flat"(Demott 60). Many American consumers of Coca-Cola asked
if they would have the final say.
When Pepsi heard that the Coca-Cola company was changing its secret formula
they said that it was a decision that Pepsi tastes better. Roger Enrico, the
president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola wrote a letter to every major newspaper in
the U.S. to declare the victory, the letter read like this(Oliver 128):
It gives me great pleasure to offer each of you my heartiest congratulations.
After eighty-seven years of going at it eyeball to eyeball, the other guy
just blinked. Coca-Cola is withdrawing their product from the marketplace,
and is reformulating brand Coke to be more like Pepsi...There is no question
the long-term market success of Pepsi has forced this move...Maybe they
finally realized what most of us have known for years, Pepsi tastes better
than Coke. Well, people in trouble tend to do desperate things...and we'll
have to keep our eye on them. But for now, I say, victory is sweet, and we
have earned a celebration. We're going to declare a holiday on Friday. Enjoy!
Coca-Cola officials said, "The new formula will boost Coke's share by 1
percent. That is worth 200 million dollars a year." Coca-Cola management
had to decide: Do nothing or "buy the world a new Coke"(Things go
better with Coke 14). They decided to develop the new formula. Roberto
Goizueta, the president of the Coca-Cola Company stated, "The old Coke
formula, with its secret flavoring ingredient, called Merchandise 7X, will
stay locked in the Trust Company of Georgia bank vault in Atlanta, never to
be used again"(Demott et. al 55). This is what many Coke officials said,
"This is the most significant soft drink development in the company's
history"(Demott et. al 54).
The change back to the old Coke was known as the Second Coming. Roberto
Goizueta said, "Today, we have two messages to deliver to the American
consumer, first, to those of you who are drinking Coca-Cola with its great
new taste, our thanks...But there is a second group of consumers to whom we
want to speak to today and our message to this group is simple: We have heard
you"(Oliver 178). On July 10, 1985, eighty-seven days after the new Coke
was introduced, the old Coke was brought back in addition to the new one. This
was greatly due to dropping market share and consumer protest. The market
share fell from a high of 15 percent to a low of 1.4 percent(Miller 38).
Roberto Goizueta and Donald Keough took full blame for this failed product
launch. Don Keough, Coca-Cola president, said in response to the comeback,
"The truth is we are not dumb and we are not that smart"(New bottle
18). Roberto Goizueta's response when the change about, "We have heard
you"(Moore 8). This was said to be a classic marketing retreat.
Coca-Cola executives admitted that they had goofed by taking the old Coke off
the market. One old Coke loyalist said, "The company had spoiled the
taste of its ninety nine year old soft drink and betrayed a national
trust"(Moore 8). Ike Herbert, a Coke marketer said, "You would have
thought we had invented a cure for cancer"(Pendergrast 366). The Coca-
Cola company's eight hundred number received eighteen thousand calls of
gratitude. One caller said they felt like a lost friend had returned home.
The comeback of old Coke drove stock prices to the highest level in twelve
years. This was said to be the only way to regain the lead on the cola
wars(Classic comeback of an old champ 12).
In 1979, fifteen hundred employees moved to the new corporate headquarters in
Atlanta located on North Avenue. The new corporate headquarters came to be
known as "The Tower." During the time when the research for the new
formula was taking place, it was known as "The Bunker"(Oliver 53).
The known ingredients in present day Coca-Cola are water. caffeine,
phosphoric acid, vanilla, various oils and essences and extracts of the coca
leaf and the kola nut. The one in four hundred part of cocaine was removed
from Coca-Cola in 1903(Demott 54). Five years after the infamous Coke fiasco,
the Coca-Cola company tried to bring back the reformulated Coke. The effort
to phase in Coke II into the soda market was quite unsuccessful(Miller 38).
During the Woodruff era, Mr. Woodruff made a promise to the armed forces of
the United States to supply Coca-Cola to every serviceperson. He said that
costs and location did not matter, he supplied 5 billion bottles to the
service. In the mid-1970's, more than half Coca-Cola sold was outside of the
U.S. Coca-Cola products outsell closest competitor by more than two to one. One
in every two colas and one in every three soft drinks is a Coca-Cola
product(Facts, Figures, and Features 16). The best known trademark in the
world is sold in about one hundred and forty countries to 5.8 billion people
in eighty different languages. This is why Coca-Cola is the largest soft
drink company in the world. Coca-Cola is worth more than 58 billion dollars
on the stock market(Coca-Cola, The Coca-Cola Company 232).
For more than 65 years, Coca-Cola has been a sponsor of the Olympics. The
1996 Summer Olympics will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, the home of Coca-Cola.
One great earmark that the Coca-Cola company has is helping the people of
Atlanta. They accomplish this through scholarships, hotlines, donations and
contributions, etc. Another large accomplishment that the Coca-Cola has, is
being the first company to make and use recycled plastic bottles. One way to
see all of the achievements of the Coca-
Cola company is to visit the World of Coke in Atlanta. It houses a collection
of memorabilia, samples of the products, exhibits, and many other exciting
items(Facts, Figures, and Features Multiple pages).
All of what has been said is the basis of what Coca-Cola was built on.
Without societies help, Coca-Cola could not have become over a 50 billion
dollar business. Keep on consuming the world's favorite soft drink,