Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's the Real Thing

Celebrating 125 years of Coca-Cola!!!

I'm no fan of cola beverages unless they come with a bit of rum. However, I do enjoy creative advertisements, branding, slogans, and logos. And with over a century of ads, Coca-Cola is a favorite product to contemplate.

Let's look at some slogans and think about what they represent.

1n 1906, Coco-Cola is "The great national temperance beverage." Obviously, the marketing is trying to tie Coke to the growing move towards Prohibition. It's trying to take a market position as the leading non-alcoholic drink.

In 1925, we get "Six million a day" and, in 1926, this changes to "It had to be good to get where it is." These slogans are playing up Coke's dominating market share. They're very boastful, implying that selecting anything but the most popular drink is to choose an inferior product. In short, the message is Coca-Cola is the best because it is the most popular.

In 1954, Coke is "For people on the go." This slogan reflects the post-war automotive culture that came to define the '50s and much of mid-to-late 20th Century America. This is the time of suburban expansion, fast food, drive-ins, and a society "on the road."

Then in the late 60s, we begin the "Cola Wars" with Pepsi. The highlight slogan of this era is the classic "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" which debuts in 1971. This fights back Pepsi's major marketing attack, with the "Pepsi Generation" slogan.

In 1979, we get the definitive Coke slogan, "Have a Coke and a smile." Pepsi has no viable counterstrike to this ad blitz. Until...

Taking the "Pepsi Challenge" spooks the management of Coca-Cola. It turns out that people actually do prefer the taste of Pepsi over that of Coke. And this gives us in 1986 "Catch the Wave" for New Coke!!! This is one of the greatest failures in the history of marketing.

By 1993, Coca-Cola has recovered from the New Coke fiasco and finishes the "Cola Wars" with a defiant slogan "Always Coca-Cola" but it is a fig leaf for a truce with Pepsi. The era of soft drinks is coming to an end in the 90s. Energy drinks, sports drinks, and bottled water variations are becoming bigger parts of the beverage market. Furthermore, the "Cola Wars" have been going on for thirty years without a "knock out" on either side.

Over the last decade, the slogans have been forgettable and insipid. "Life tastes Good." "Make It Real." "Open happiness." Boring. Check out this extremely lame vid celebrating 125 years of Coca-Cola:

Really? A dancing polar bear mascot?? Alas, Coke's modern marketing is unimpressive.

Here's a link to Coca-Cola's Wikipedia page.

And here's Coke's official website.


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