HOW COCO-COLA PULLED OFF HISTORY’S GREATEST MARKETING COUP

How many of you remember “New Coke?”

IMHO this was one of the most brilliant marketing campaigns ever created.

In case you’re too young to know about this here’s what happened:

All the way back in in 1985, Coco-Cola was gradually losing market share. To counter this they launched a top secret project known as “Project Kansas.” What this discovered – after a great deal of surveys and focus groups – was that Coke wasn’t “sweet enough.”

With this information a bold new plan was decided upon…

The Coco-Cola company would change their decades old formula and introduce “New Coke.”

As it turned this was a wild success and dramatically boosted sales.

But that wasn’t the end of the story…

You see, what eventually happened was that New Coke caused a massive consumer backlash. In fact, the company received more than 40,000 complaints and at one stage over 1,500 calls per day to their consumer hotline. This resulted in them returning to the original formula in only 77 days.

Now, to the untrained observer this may seem like failure but…

…I guarantee you this was all done by design.

You see, the introduction of New Coke performed several important marketing functions.

First of all, it provided massive publicity for the company.

Second, it resulted in a huge sales bump.

(Think about it, this is a no brainer: who wouldn’t try New Coke?).

Third, what you have to understand is that of course this was going to cause a backlash.

Coca-Cola is a deeply rooted piece of Americana.

This is why people got so upset and wanted the old formula back.

It’s also why the public returned in droves when “old” Coke came back.

(Causing another nice sales bump).

Ultimately, what this did was root Coke even more firmly in the minds of the public.

This is best expressed by Coke’s marketing vice president Sergio Zyman…

…the guy who came up with New Coke.

“Yes, it infuriated the public, cost us a ton of money and lasted for only 77 days before we reintroduced Coca-Cola classic. Still, New Coke was a success because it revitalized the brand and reattached the public to Coke.”

Enough said.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. How can you create your own New Coke? Basically by experimenting with your product. If sales are dwindling then try reworking things. BTW, this is why copywriters are always describing products as “New and improved.”