The Story Of Coca Cola
The Coca-Cola company started 110 years ago as a small,
insignificant one man business. Since then, it has grown
into one of the largest companies in the world. The first
chairman of the company was Dr. John Pemberton and the
current chairman is Roberto Goizueta. The demand for this
product has made this company into 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 by mixing lime,
cinnamon, coca leaves, and the seeds of a Brazilian shrub.
(Things Go Better With Coke 14). Coca-Cola, as he called
the beverage, made its debut in Atlanta's largest pharmacy,
Jacob's Pharmacy, as a five cent non- carbonated drink.
Later on, the carbonated water was added to the syrup to
make the beverage that we know today.
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. He 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.
In time, 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 and 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 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 that the
company 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 Multiple
In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company made what has been known as
one of the biggest marketing blunders. The company
developed a new formula in efforts to produce a diet Coke.
They invested 4 million dollars into 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 during his lifetime he had insisted on
keeping the same formula. After he died, Coke's market
shares fell 2.5 percent within the next four years. Each
percentage point lost or gained 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).
In hopes of boosting their earnings, the company decided to
introduce the new flavor. This was the first change since
the conception of the Coca- Cola company. 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 affair. It included a
question and answer session, a history of Coca-Cola, and
many other events (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 following was the jingle:
"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, and 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 received 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
interned 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 tastes almost like it's
flat" (Demott 60). Many American consumers of Coca-Cola
asked if they could have the final say.
When Pepsi heard that the Coca-Cola company was changing
its secret formula they said that Pepsi tastes better and
decided to take advantage of the situation. Roger Enrico,
the president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola wrote a letter to every
every employee within the company as well as to every major
newspaper in the U.S. to declare the victory. The letter
stated the following: "It gives me great pleasure to
announce that after eighty-seven years of going at it
eyeball to eyeball, the other guy just blinked. Coca-Cola
is withdrawing its product from the marketplace, and is
reformulating the blend to make Coke taste 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! Best Regards, Roger Enrico President, CEO Pepsi-Cola
USA (Oliver 128).
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
bank vault of the Trust Company of Georgia in Atlanta,
never to be used again" (Demott et. al 55). Many Coke
officials were very optimistic about this change and 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
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
was, "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 as if 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 service person. He said
that costs and location did not matter and he supplied 5
billion bottles to the service. In the mid-1970's, more
than half of Coca-Cola sold was outside of the U.S.
Coca-Cola products outsell closest competitors 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
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).