Brief History – Evolution of Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns

Intro -

The public images of most brands rise and fall with the trend of the times. A brand like Coca-cola has stayed in the public consciousness for more than 130 years and their brand has penetrated into every remote corner of our planet. This is not just because of their product. Products can be recreated and duplicated by competitive companies. Coke has stayed on top, with the help of their marketing techniques despite humble beginnings due to their innovative, adaptive and unique marketing strategies.

Taking roots -

A man named John Pemberton sold his unique flavoured drink through a soda fountain in a pharmacy in 1887. He published a bland text advertisement, as it was the trend of that time, for his drink called Coca-Cola in the Atlanta Journal. Soon, he ran longer advertisements claiming that his drink could cure headaches, hysteria, melancholy.

Enter the 1900s -

At the start of the twentieth century when prohibition had grabbed the American public by the neck, Coca-Cola advertised itself as an alternative to alcohol. During the same time the brand’s visual print ads had images of pretty and classy female celebrities starting with Hilda Clark. This targeted their marketing towards the elite classes branding the drink as something to be associated with wealth and good lifestyle.

   Due to the lack of a regulatory board for advertising at that time, Coca-Cola passed itself as a refreshing health drink making many people believe it to be a cure for cough.

From the ‘30s - (Origin Of Santa's Image)

Coca-Cola’s advertising campaign from the 1930’s to the 1960’s shaped modern culture of The Christmas Icon every kid cares about. Haddon Sundblom illustrated the figure of the fat and festively jolly, old man in the red and white attire in order to brand the red and white logo of Coca-Cola that is used even today. Saint Nicholas, a children’s delight, who is more commonly called Santa Claus, was given his current public image due to this sweetened soda maker’s advertising campaign. There were many varied visualizations of Santa before Coke’s Ad campaign.

   During that era, this company brought out an experimental product packaging concept in the form of the six-pack box that held six glass bottles of Coca-Cola. This was later popularized by breweries selling six-packs both in bottles and in tin-cans.

   In the 30’s the company targeted their advertising to the working class men as a refreshment to be taken during breaks. This made the product an every-man’s drink.

After the ’50s -

Later in the 60’s the soda fountain was disappearing from commercial areas and bottled drinks were gaining popularity by the masses. This helped Coca-Cola as they were one of the earliest branded sodas to be bottled. They were experimenting with bottle designs and structures to find a unique shape that people would associate with Coke. This led to many designs over the years.

   The concept of a float drink was pioneered by Coca-Cola in an attempt to get consumers to get back to drinking sodas through glasses instead of just bottles. An Ad poster showed scoops of ice-cream floating on pints of Coke. This changed the fast food culture.

   The tag-line Things go better with Coke was used to connect the drink with almost any event, sport, show, act and part of life. It’s the real thing. Coke. – This was another tag-line which appeared around the same time, branding on the uniqueness of the bottle making Coke stand apart from new entrants to the cola market like Pepsi.

From the ‘70s -

Then during the 70’s Coke included colored folks of oppressed races in their advertisements in order to diversify their consumer base. With the fame of Bacardi rum in the 80’s, there were posters jointly promoting how Coke can be mixed well with Bacardi rum. This led to the culture of Coke blending well with booze.

   Before the 80’s there was a radical spread of Coke into world markets like India, Macau, Turkey, Paraguay and the Philippines. When Coke became available in every corner of the world, it was now a global brand. The widespread business expansion led to the company experimenting with different flavors of soda like Fanta and Sprite.

The soda empire had conquered the planet by the late 80’s and had heavily influential TV advertisements that emotionally moved the local audiences. This was a result of good market research that understood the varied cultures and interests of the consumers of Coke in every region.

The late 80’s marked a huge blunder for the brand as they blindly changed their flagship product into New Coke, to compete with Pepsi. This change was received with heavy backlashes as the world had grown a connection with the original flavor. Soon the Diet Coke was introduced with its low calorie marketing strategy. This supposedly healthy product is still a highly popular commodity.

Start of the ’90s and further on -

Their 90’s Ad campaign involved a family of polar bears watching the Northern lights on the Arctic icecaps. This is the company’s most popular Ad campaign after introducing the mainstream image of Santa Claus.

In recent times, Coke has rampantly used guerilla marketing techniques like their Happiness Machine and the Happiness Truck, which involved many people across the world, engaging them with the Coke brand.

The Open Happiness campaign by Coke which started in India involved many popular actors and sportsmen to endorse the soda brand to the South Asian consumers.

Coke now offers over 500 brands and products over the world and manages to sell over two billion servings every single day.

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-Kronos Ananthsimha

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