On May 1886, exactly 125 years after Dr. John Pemberton from Atlanta, GA delivered via a mix of water and other mysterious ingredients in a brass kettle the one and only secret Coca-Cola formula. But that was just the product, it was actually his bookkeeper to whom we owe the name and the original hand written logo. From nine servings sold per day to a staggering 1.7 billion servings per day - talk about growth factors!
I guess we've all had our story with Coke, it's a brand with a specially emotional connection. Mine starts back when I was a kid all I wanted was to drink it all day long, but it was for special occasions only. Remember my mother gave me a can, I drank half of it, filled up with water so it would multiply...what a waste.
On another occasion went on a school picnic and some kid opened my can inside the bus, sprayed everyone...all that was left was a mushed sandwich inside my Harrods plastic bag (no lunch boxes in UK back then) think I was five...cried like a baby and had two older girls feed me for the rest of the outing. Later on when I lived in Ecuador I recall my best friend and I would climb over the wall into his grand father's house and get Mr. Martinez to open his bar and grant us with a pop of the forbidden elixir while he told us stories of when he was a real cowboy. The bottles were smaller back then but grandpa's tales are unforgettable. One day the Coca-Cola truck came by the house and my mom actually brought an entire case, it was like a dream come true, 24 bottles of Coke in the fridge! As time passed the bottles got bigger, plastic took over glass. There's that amazing story of the Cola Wars when Pepsi and Coke bottlers would buy each other's bottles and break them in order to gain market share....
Then when I had my own income to drink it on a daily basis we discovered it had too much sugar. So then they launched the Diet/Low Cal version which resulted dangerous for your health....well I have to admit, I love a drink of Coke, specially Zero in the black can, ice cold...aaaaaahhhhhhhh. Then there's the mixes with beverages: in Chile we'll drink Piscola: Pisco plus Coke, then there's the famous Cuba Libre: Rhum and Coke or Jack & Coke. I'm sure every nation has it's own mix. Bet you want one now, thats exactly the strategy, to be on your top of mind "recency" and awaken thirst.
The master of advertising as we know it, 125 years doing the same drink but always keeping it fresh. And the caffeine rush of course...anyone remember the "New Coke"? the ultimate marketing belly flop? Later on in I had the opportunity to handle the Coca-Cola account at McCann-Erickson, one of the all time highs in my career. Never experienced a brand that cares so much about it's customer base and appreciates input. Everything was tested with the target audiences again and again: ad campaigns, messaging, story boards, promos, quality standards, flavor, etc.... I recall the European Union aluminium can crisis - millions of cans were taken off the market due cases of intoxication. As a result Coke was banned in Europe and the globe. A major PR and Policy mishap we should all learn from.
Another encounter I had with the brand was in Galapagos where a ship had capsized during a storm close to the beach. I went snorkeling one morning to the see the wreck and in a most surreal panorama saw the entire ocean covered with Coke bottles. On the bright side, the brand is well known all around the world, crossing cultural barriers. The unforgettable Christmas campaigns with Santa Claus, the Polar Bears...This is one brand that will probably outlive us all. Please let me close with a - cheers - and the celebration ad produced by my ex-colleagues at McCann http://bcove.me/sidg527p
My last story, don;t want to bore you anymore...my kids went to the Coke Museum in Atlanta, where you can try Cokes from all around the world and as a souvenir they brought back an aluminum bottle, mus of been in the fridge for more than a year, have to confess one night I drank it...it;s still there (filled with water...)
Blessings & have a great week!
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