By Thibault THIERRY, University of Angers
Coca-Cola history began in 1886, same year as statue of liberty unveiled, when the curiosity of an Atlanta pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton, led him to create a distinctive tasting soft drink that could be sold at soda fountains.
1886: the first Coca‑Colas were sold 5 cents per glass. Next, the beverage became available in bottles.
Soda fountains: not just a place to drink if thirsty, also a place to gather, talk, meeting place for both men and women, without fear of censorship (important in victorian age, no saloons)
Offered a lot of flavours, mixing a thick syrup to carbonated water, and finely cheaped ice.
1886 – Coca-Cola sold approximately 9 drinks per day, 25 gallons a year (bad).
1920 – 6.5 million drinks per day (including bottles and fountain drinks)
1950 – 50 million soft drinks sold per day
1980 – 250 million sold per day
2009 – Estimated at 1.6 billion per day
2014 – Today, daily servings of Coca‑Cola beverages are estimated at 1.9 billion globally.
Coke has come a long way from its soda fountain days.
It’s now possible to make your own personalized Coca-Cola drink through soda machines or on the internet.
John S. Pemberton, “Doc”:
Civil war officer in the confederate forces, had a medical training, pharmacist,.
1870, moved to Atlanta, Georgia (before : Columbus) : leading city of the New South after civil war
and spent most of his life looking for the product that was going to make him richin his house that was also his laboratory.
Pills, medicines etc. But never a success.
Added flavours, syrup to boiling water, and dispatched his work in pharmacies to see if people liked it, always modifying it, looking for a miracle thing that people would like.
Brand new flavour : Coca-Cola. Very distinct kind of flavour
He died in 1888 (27 y o), stomach ache, problems due to civil war.
Before his death Dr. Pemberton sold portions of his business to various parties, with the majority of the interest sold to Atlanta businessman, Asa G. Candler.
Frank M. Robinson:
Yankee, trying to make a career in advertising.
Dr. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper
Pemberton better at creating products than selling them.
They focused on his new idea : a beverage.
Created the name “Coca‑Cola”, catchy, repetition of Os and As.
Wrote it out in script, his signature created the logo still used today in fact.
The Coca-Cola logo was registered as a trademark in 1893. The logo has remained the same in Spencerian script.
The only thing that changes is the backgrounds (red on white, white or red, disc, rectangles, etc.)
Asa G. Candler:
A businessman, a pilar of rectitude, not frivolous.Mayor of Atlanta 1916-1919
Couldn’t get a job at pemberton’s, was seeking fortune in atlanta, and did it : 100 000 $ a year for his company
In 1887 Robinson came to see him and asked if he’d like to invest in Coca‑Cola, answered no, not interested in a new product and his drugstore didn’t have a soda fountain anyway.
But then tried Coca-Cola for the first time.
He claimed that this one drink made him a true believer in the possibilities of Coca-Cola, he saw the opportunities.
1891: Sole owner of Coca-Cola, investment 2300 dollars.
Had a vision and strong marketing capability.
Under his leadership, distribution of Coca‑Cola expanded to soda fountains beyond Atlanta.
Had to convince a skeptical public it was special.
Had the idea of free coke, tickets : you try it once, you like it, next time you come in you pay for it.
Sales climbed, but limit to what coupons could do, and rural country difficult to attain.
1st scandal and not the last one : the rumor had spread that there was cocaine in Coca-Cola and it enraged him, he told the atlanta journal he would close the company immeiately if there were a single case of someone being harmed by the drink. “there is not one indivisible atom of cocain in an ocean of Coca-Cola, that is absolute and final”.
By the end of the 19th cent: Coca‑Cola was sold in all 46 states.
But Candler wasn’t interesting in the bottling market though.
In 1894, Joseph Biedenharn installed a bottling machinery in the rear of his Mississippi soda fountain, becoming the first to put Coca‑Cola in bottles, to make it portable.
In 1899, 5y later, three businessmen Benjamin Thomas, Joseph Whitehead and John Lupton purchased the bottling rights from Asa Candler for just $1.
They wanted to make bottles, for people to take them home.They developed what became the Coca‑Cola worldwide bottling system and large scale bottling was made possible
Candler had first answered : neither money, brains nor time to embark in the bottling business. But he was happy to sell exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca‑Cola to other businessmen, for it would need a lot of capitalization that he hadn’t. So he gives them a try.
First : Hutchinson bottle, you had to pop the top to open it. But quality issues.
But they were facing imitations (lime cola, chero cola, coke ola…) by competitors among the 1,000 bottling plants at the time.
The label had candler’s signature as proof of its authenticity, but tbottles were kept in ice before selling, and label often got out. They needed a bottle you can recognize in the dark, that you can recognize in the street even by looking at broken pieces.
The bottlers agreed that a distinctive beverage needed a standard and distinctive bottle, and in 1916, the bottlers approved the unique contour bottle. The new Coca‑Cola bottle was so distinctive it could be recognized in the dark and it effectively set the brand apart from competition.
1915-1916 – winning design, an employee (Earl R. Dean) created it by looking in an encyclopedia at coco fruit, a mistake, the bottle had its shape. Shaped like female forms.
Perfect commercial package: fits in a hand perfectly, feels good, letters have a tactile quality, anticipation of the drink itself. Coca-Cola made a U.S. patent trademark of the contour bottle to bring distinction of the Coca-Cola brand.
1919 – new design sold all over the country.
1950s – Coca-Cola offered a variety of package size drinks. There was the contour bottle (6.5 ounce) and included 10, 12 and 26-ounce bottles.
Later in the 1960s, Coca-Cola cans became available.
The actual bottle was trademarked in 1977.
Over the years, the Coca‑Cola bottle has been inspiration for artists across the globe — a sampling of which can be viewed at the World of Coca‑Cola in Atlanta.
(andy warhol’s pop art) 1977 – Coke introduced the plastic bottle
1994 – the drink was available in the 2 liter bottle.
Today, the contour of the Coca-Cola bottle is recognized all over the globe, it is sold in over 200 countries and can be found almost anywhere, in many languages : French, Ethiopian, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, Chinese etc. But NOT in North Korea, Cuba, Burma, Iran and Sudan.
Robert Woodruff: 1923 1954 President of Coca-Cola
Son of the chairman of the board of Coca-Cola.
Prohibition followed the war in the roaring twenties, and sodas, particularly Coca-Cola became the best alternative in public (rather than lemonade wich was old fashion, like grandmas)
Technological inventions : coolers : coke sold in gas stations
In the 1920s Coca-Cola invented the carton, 6 pack, before that sold one bottle at a time.
He understood the power of idea of “secret formula”, played with it, put it in a vault of his family. Created the myth : exists ? Where it is ? Written down ? The company remains tight lipped.To keep people interested in it.
Wanted to sell it around the world too, cuba, mexico first.
Difficult in england : no cool drinks or soda fountains, took 20 y more.
Advertisement, marketing devices:
Coca-Cola followed every change of society, you can teach history of American society by using Coca-Cola advertisement.
If the country is having a bad time, or you’re having a bad time, it’s ok, there’s still coke (depression, war etc.)
The bottle in itself of course is a marketing device.
The first marketing efforts in Coca‑Cola history were coupons promoting free samples of the beverage.
Then followed by newspaper advertising and the distribution of promotional items bearing the Coca‑Cola logo to participating pharmacies.
Artistic quality of ads since the beginning, beautiful script. No cost saving, high quality choices of what they could do.
By 1906, the company was spending half a million dollars annually for ads.
In 1909, Coca-Cola was proclaimed ‘the best advertised article’ in the nation. Advertising spending topped $1 million by 1912 and doubled again before the Roaring Twenties.
In recent times their ad budget continues to grow, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, “Coca-Cola spent $1.97 billion for print, radio and television advertisements in 2001.”
Since 1886 Coca-Cola has has used over 45 different slogans, catchy lines:
The first one was ‘Delicious and Refreshing’. Others : “The Pause That Refreshes”; Drink Coca-Cola; It’s The Real Thing; Have A Coke And A Smile…
Coca-Cola has been partners with the Olympics for more than eighty years. It was during the IX Olympic Summer Games that Coca-Cola made its first official appearance.
Always connected with pause, taking a break.
1920s : idea of taking a break for refreshment more and more important, in the industrial explosion.
“the pause that refreshes”
Idealized america in ads, Norman Rockwell for example in art, with a good traditional america in paintings.
Woodruff thought they couldn’t be just a summer drink any more, “Thirst knows no season”
Christmas, winter months : not strong for the sale of Coca-Cola.
1931- The first mascot, Santa Claus was introduced : Haddon Sundblom: Bloody cheek, fat santa, red clothes, sunny face, opulence, joy, opposite of depression era corner hoboes around chicago, skinny and alcoholic ringing bells. Before that he had all sorts of clothes. Way to reassuring people.
1960s 70s Coca-Cola still in the time, ads adapted, how americans viewed these years.
Jingles : Billy Davis, Bill Backer, Aretha Franklin, Ray charles etc. Coca-Cola reflected a new music.
1969 : people looking for stability. Vietnam war etc. Coke is here. “it’s the real thing”
TV spots : Multicultural youngs singing together, a bottle of Coke in a hand.
Positive message in a disturbed time. Not singing war songs.
But 1970s, faded away the spirit of the 1960s : gas running out, prices etc. People needed a pause to refresh more than ever. World’s best soft drink and music in ads.
Coca‑Cola’s advertising started to reflect a brand connected with fun, friends and good times.
1971 Hilltop Singers :“I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke”
1979 “Have a Coke and a Smile”
The 1980s featured such memorable slogans as “Coke is It!”, “Catch the Wave” and “Can’t Beat the Feeling”.
Mid 1980s : sugar cola market declining.
People tired of the taste ? Wondered the company.
They managed to create a new Coca-Cola flavour. Made a change.
1984 : new secret program to launch a new coke.
The CEO of the time, april 23rd 1985, roberto gasueto, ny city press conference : announced the new drink. New formula.
But public reaction immediate and negative. Angry consumers, that were attache to the old image and brand.. Whereas the company was just trying to bring people that never drink coke.
Maybe a marketing mistake, or a wise move to bring people back to Coca-Cola. New Coke. Coca-Cola Classic.
In 1993 : Computer animation, innovative : animated polar bears.12 weeks to produce from beginning to end. The bears represent innocence, mischief and fun.
In 2009, the “Open Happiness” commercial debuted during American Idol, encouraging us to enjoy Coke as one of life’s simple pleasures, an invitation to billions around the world to pause, refresh with a Coca‑Cola.
The happiness theme continued with “Open the Games. Open Happiness” featured during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Experts have long believed in the connection between happiness and wellness, and Coca‑Cola is proud to have played a part in happy occasions around the globe.
Coke was here at every important decades.
Even in space stations.
Coca-Cola present on Twitter, Facebook, video games, movies etc. It adapts to changes.
Coca-Cola and War:
World War 1 had brought rationning, on sugar too, this endangered business. They tried a clear coke but not the same thing.
End of the war didn’t end the problem, but brought recession and almost killed the company.
25 million dollars, Candler sold the company, biggest transaction in history of the south.
To Robert Woodruff
During World War II the Coca-Cola company decided to ship their soft drinks to United States military overseas. It created loyal customers and international exposure.
1941: life in the usa was going on as usual, but still an anxiety.
Restriction on many materials again, for packaging, ads, syrup etc. Instead of metal used wood for 6 pack. Coca factories requisitionned like the others for war effort
But coca emotionally tied to people, to men fighting in the war, on the battlefield.
Symbol of american life, of what they were fighting for, many GIs’ letters talked about it.
Woodruff wanted to bring coca to soldiers, patriotic, but technical problems. So decided to bnuid bottling plants to thr front lines, rather than ship bottle back and forth.
Eisnhower coke drinker, 6 million bottles order a month for army.
“The global high sign” new slogan, plants everywhere around the world.
But keeping the price at 5cents a bottle for soldiers was hard, very expansive to produce on front lines. But the investement worthed it.
More than 60 per cent of veterans after the war declared it their favourite drink, and sells rose.
Modernisation and Coca-Cola.
End of rationing, coke sylmbol of opulence.
After WWII, new years for Coca-Cola
Until then Coca-Cola was only sold in the same single bottle. And delivery boys brought cokes from stations to houses.
But now, a wooden crate too heavy for a housewife to bring home.
Coca helped people escaped from daily problems, thanks to hollwood stars etc
1955: answer to that : bigger bottles, resembling the old classic familiar bottle. Less bottles to bring back, but bigger. For family, for the Home.
In the same time: more and more tvs in houses, and ads came closer to consumers.
See, hear product, see people refreshed by it, special effects and animations in ads, everyday life scenes for people to identify, or cowboys and movie stars, celebrities, for kids to dream. Workers too. Commercial spots, of leisure, relaxation and comfort.
Between WWII and Cold War : pax americana, american commercial and economic dominance.
In europe and asia developed economies had been taken down, but in the usa still growing, standing. Rebuilding of the world. Coca-Cola brought everywhere in the world, like chewing gums by soldiers. Unique identification of its trademark (red, logo).
Sells rose up fast. Ads referring to usa even in other countries : pretty girls drinking coke.
Became a global culture.
The only place where coke isn’t served is where politics entered the frame.
Little by little countries began to make their own ads, to touch their public, identification.
American brand, westernization.
The original ingredient included five ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup for about the first five years.
Pemberton was a war veteran and suffered some pains so added coca, it’s one of the theories..”
Today the company uses a cocaine-free coca leaf extract which is prepared in New Jersey.
Original recipe :
For 36 gallons:
For the flavouring:
216 pounds of sugar
18 gallons of water
29oz lime juice
29oz citric acid
3 quarts colouring
15 quarts (ﬂuid extract) coca
1½ quarts of alcohol
12oz [ﬂuid extract] nutmegs
19oz ext vanilla
13 d [illegible—“drops?”] oil lemon
10 d oil cinnamon
12 d oil nutmeg
15 d oil coriander
12 d oil neroli
The other applications like for cleaning, srubing rust etc makes us wonder what’s really in it and if it’s really safe.
killer coke .org
1906 : coca leaves forbidden in Coca-Cola, now only for flavour
Stepan Company: used to make cocaine, and still do for pharmaceutic labs, coca from bolivia and peru
Other problem : sugar
California : 40% of pop overweight or obese, against sodas
average american : 170liters of soda/year, 20kg of sugar
This makes people dependant, sugar addicts, reward mecanism in brain, the more you absorb it, the more dopamine reacts, the more you need to feel it, you become tolerant
And sugar is very dangerous for the body
heart attack, stroke (avc), cancer, demensia, diabetes
As dangerous as cigarets etc. Obesity and fat isn’t the main problem
1 can : 1 hour running to eliminate
Aspartame = Solution ? The fact is that we don’t know anything about it, we don’t know how it affects your energetic system, metabolism, long term… no data
Diet sodas : not a clue if it’s a solution or not
E150D : caramel coloring : controversies
sugar, ammonium, acids + high pressure : caramel color, but also other molecules 4Mi : provokes cancers. Leukemia, 1/50 000 risk
Ecological problem : Water.
San Cristobal, Mexico : Coca-Cola usine : for water, directly in the nappe phréatique : 750 000 liters/day (10 000 people every day)
25 000 euros/an en 2003 payés par coca : ridicule
People in there can’t have water anymore, and then have to drink coke in order not to be sick by drinking water
Vicente fox : former pdg of Coca-Cola mexique
now president of mexico
Coca omnipresent in Mexico, real problem
Water more expensive than coke in mexico
Mexico : 70% of pop obese or overweight
2020 : 100% estimated
Today’s flavours :
Coca-Cola® Vanilla Coke Coke with Lime Raspberry Coke Cherry Coke Orange Coke Cherry Vanilla Coke Diet Coke® Diet Vanilla Coke Diet Coke with Lime Raspberry Diet Coke Diet Cherry Coke Orange Diet Coke Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke Coca-Cola Zero™ Cherry Coke Zero Vanilla Coke Zero Cherry Vanilla Coke Zero Coke Zero with Orange Coke Zero with Lime Coke Zero with Raspberry Coke Zero with Lemon Caffeine-Free Diet Coke® Caffeine-Free Diet Vanilla Coke Caffeine-Free Diet Coke with Lime Caffeine-Free Diet Coke with Orange Caffeine-Free Diet Raspberry Coke Caffeine-Free Diet Cherry Coke Caffeine-Free Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke
The Coca-Cola Company has grown into the world’s largest beverage company with nearly 500 brands with more than 3,000 products. Their line includes sparkling beverages, juices, coffee, tea, sports drinks and packaged water.
Their billion-dollar brands include Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero, Fanta, Sprite, Glaceau, Vitaminwater, Aquarius, Minute Maid, Powerade, Dasani, Georgia Coffee, Nestea and Sokenbicha.
There are 104 variations Coca-Cola company drinks including waters, energy drinks, carbonated and non-carbonated drinks.
Why is Coca-Cola an Icon ?
Has followed history and changes of society with modern and adapting advertisement.
A strong image which has known how to stay the same, good old slogans, same recipe, a smell of tradition in a way. Striking colors and letters.
Always there in bad times, there can be war and all kind of troubles, there will always be a Coca-Cola to have a break and refresh.
Though there are some shades to this celebrity: ecological matters, health, enrichment at all price (share owners).
“Coca-cola la recette secrète”, Romain Icard
“COCA-COLA: THE HISTORY OF AN AMERICAN ICON” :
Book “Coca-Cola dans l’Art”, Jean-Luc Chalumeau