My generation grew up in a time where marketing really came of age. We were exposed to subtle and not so subtle messages about the cars we should buy, the shampoo we should use, and of course the soda we should drink. Coca Cola@ was an American icon long before we came along. Coke was used as a medicine, a thirst quencher, and a cleaner because of the somewhat acidic nature of the secret formula.
Coke went to war with our troops, paid for a lot of people’s kids educations, and added to a growing post war economy.
Coke was marketed and packaged to dominate the market and dominate they did for a long time. The cola wars were played out on the battlefield of America but somehow the mainstay of America remained the giant from Georgia.
By the 1980s, the situation had changed drastically. Pepsi had successfully driven Cokes share in the market from a post war 60% to a painful 24%.
The drink that powered the armed forces through the tough years was now thought of as a “mature” drink. The younger generation wanted the sweeter taste of Pepsi and Pepsi played to its strength. Direct one on one marketing was something new and rocked the old giant to its knees.
The Coke folks felt that they needed to do something and the new CEO told them that there were to be no sacred cows at Coke.
A secret project called “Project Kansas” was begun and a new formula for Coke emerged as the result. The results are so well documented I will not take up much time with the disaster that resulted. If you have time, read the Wiki story posted above.
My favorite part of the whole story was what people’s reaction was once they found out that New Coke was a “fake”:
“Company headquarters in Atlanta started receiving letters expressing anger or deep disappointment. Over 400,000 calls and letters were received by the company, including one letter, delivered to Goizueta, that was addressed to “Chief Dodo, The Coca-Cola Company”. Another letter asked for his autograph, as the signature of “one of the dumbest executives in American business history” would likely become valuable in the future. The company hotline, 1-800-GET-COKE, received 1,500 calls a day compared to 400 before the change. A psychiatrist Coke hired to listen in on calls told executives some people sounded as if they were discussing the death of a family member.”
I know how they felt. I loved the old Coke. As a kid, I could down an entire large bottle in one sitting. Epic Burps!!! No one asked me if I wanted the change, it was just kind of shoved down my throat. Secretive marketing and corporate guys who wanted to manipulate the market worked behind the scenes and tried to get everyone to accept a fundamental change that no one really wanted.
Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed, at the twilights last gleaming!
I don’t know about you , but I think there is enough room in America for Coke, Pepsi, Doctor Pepper, Root Beer of any brand and of course the entire line up of Zero Calorie drinks (despite the fact that a million gallons of which apparently kills lab rats). But there are some things we have grown to love and appreciate. There are some things that should not be messed with.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming
Some might say I was biased against New Coke. Some might even say that my bias is born from a deep seated prejudice that makes me an ignorant old fool. Well, they might be right about the old fool part, but I just can’t stand the taste. I would never tell someone who likes it not to buy it. In fact I would fight for their right to do so (I have a proven track record and my records aren’t sealed). Just don’t shove it down my throat.
And the rocket’s red glare the bomb’s bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Yes sir, there are just some things you should not mess with. The country has had a good dose of what happens when you put too much sugar in the mix. It gave a lot of the people that drank it a big old sugar high. But the headache is starting to set in now. Some will keep on drinking it despite the broken promise of a bright new future. In fact, some will drink it until their teeth rot (especially now that they think the rest of us will pay for the dentist).
But I think this country is better than that. I think individual responsibility and accountability still mean something. I don’t know about you but I am more than ready for the reversal of One Big Ass Mistake America.
Bring Back Classic America!
(Place your mouse here, hold left button and scroll down to the flags… hopefully you’ll see how the story should end)
Oh, say does that star spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free
and the Home of the Brave!