coca cola facts

Get the Real Thing

coca cola
No other product has ever been so immediately recognisable, so enduring and so popular as Coca-Cola. Almost every object imaginable has been endorsed with the name and collectors love it.

  It's one of the most recognised symbols in the world, a product so universal that people around the globe immediately identify with it. Coca-Cola is the essential drink of the American dream but has reached out even further than the United Nations and is now sold in  over 250 countries.

Coca-Cola has also produced an enormously wide range of endorsed and advertising products, from cups to pencils and from balls to shirts. It's a godsend for the ardent collector. Almost any genre of collecting can be linked to a Coca-Cola endorsed item.

coca cola

 There are bottles, cans, radios, retro items from every decade, modern pieces, children's toys, clothes, sports wear, special editions and, of course, they come in innumerable languages. Whatever you think of the drink itself, you can't escape the power of 'The Real Thing' and, to a collector, the draw of the thousands of items that span over a century of world history is irresistible.      

  Added to this is the brand's uncanny knack of being everything to everyone: it's both traditional and modern, old and pop. It fits into the fashions of the '50s and '60s, when the familiar hobble-skirt bottle was introduced. In the '70s The New Seekers had a number one single with the Coke advert theme 'I'd like to teach the world to sing'. But like all fizzy drinks, it's had a hiccup occasionally: in the '80s, a centenary attempt to revise the formula backfired and 'New Coke' was rapidly taken off the shelves. Coca-Cola's fortunes were restored   in the '90s.

As a major sponsor of the Olympic movement, it saw its home city of Atlanta host the  centenary Olympic Games. Now it's the envy of the marketing world, holding the unbelievable position of being the second most widely recognized word in the world

coca cola

Coca-Cola is one of many inventions that sprang from the vitality of 19th century America, a new nation barely into its teens. Everyone there believed they could become millionaires by selling new products, including soft drinks.

 There were beverages with names like Howdy, and Chero-Coke. Most didn't last long, although one with the catchy title of Lithiated Lemon finally evolved into 7-UP,  apparently because it was sold in 7oz bottles. A wave of products swept across the country. Sarsaparilla, root beer, ginger beer and spruce beer were among dozens of new soft beverages.

In Atlanta, Georgia, inventor John Styth Pemberton tried a number of formulas,

none of which caught on. Globe of Flower Cough Syrup failed to impress. French Wine Cola proved equally unappealing. Eventually, in 1885, so legend has it, he brewed up a concoction of caramel, coca leaves (the source of natural cocaine), cola nuts and a few other 'mystery' ingredients in an iron bath in his back yard, stirring it with the oar from his boat.

coca cola

 He called it Coca-Cola. Pemberton never expected his invention to become the best selling soft drink; he tried to market it as a hangover cure possessed of 'medicinal qualities for the upper body'. Fie even suggested it might have mild aphrodisiac qualities. Perhaps that's why teenagers love it!

To promote it, he drew on the calligraphy skills of his bookkeeper. Frank Robinson H  produced the flamboyant italic script that has announced Coca-Cola to the world ever since. At first it was a syrup, but carbonated water was added and Coke was born. He sold an average of nine drinks a day in his first year.

 A year later he made another decision, one he was to regret. He opted to sell a two-thirds interest in his invention for $283.29. Even then it wasn't an immediate success and the new owners sold it on again, this time to Atlanta pharmacist Asa G. Chandler, for $2,000. He set about recouping his investment by marketing it as a refresher. It worked beyond his wildest dreams: he sold out 20 years later for a cool $25 million.

coca cola

It wasn't an easy road to success. As sales increased, so did the number of copycat products. Many were too close for comfort and the board took all its competitors to court: litigation became a second industry for Coca-Cola but it won all 7,000 cases. It even won the right to protect its generic name of 'Coke',

making it the only successful product in the world with two names.

Coke's appeal has crossed many cultural bawrvers and the script has even transferred successfully into languages like Hebrew, Chinese and Hindi. The product name includes three Cs, yet it's amazingly well recognised in countries like Greece and Russia that do not use that letter in their alphabet. And it's widely believed to have even been directly responsible for a piece of modern folklore. The story is that,

when a Christmas promotion was being devised, the advertising department suggested depicting Father Christmas drinking from a bottle. Naturally they dressed him in the corporate colours of red and white,and the tradition stuck.      

coca cola
 Apart from Pepsi, none of its rivals can even walk in its shadow. Despite its failure to overhaul Coke as number one in the drink wars, Pepsi is in fact a larger company - because it's diversified into owning other famous brands such as Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Coke tried diversifying too, usually less successfully.

The commercial disaster of New Coke in 1985 was not the only one. Early marketing of Coke-flavoured cigars failed to light the nation's enthusiasm.

coca cola
 The latest attempt to widen its markets was a new range of sports wear that does not directly advertise the product with large logos but is sold strictly on its merits as a clothes item. Its future is still to unfold.

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1 comment:

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