On May 8, 2012, Coca-Cola Company celebrated its 126th anniversary. With a history that spans more than a century, it is no surprise that the brand has seen many changes since it first began. From selling nine drinks a day at Jacobs' Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia to selling about 19,400 beverages every second around the world, here is how the Coca-Cola Company has changed over the years and how the evolution has affected its business.

Advertising Strategies
Coca-Cola might be one of the best-known brands in the world today. However, that wasn't always the case. When the company first started in 1886, it used coupons for free drinks to raise interest in the product. In 1892, marketer Asa Candler finalized the purchase of Coca-Cola from inventor Dr. John Pemberton. Candler's original advertising budget was $11,000. He used items such as calendars, soda fountain urns, painted wall signs, napkins, pencils and clocks to advertise Coca-Cola. The first celebrity to ever endorse Coca-Cola was music hall performer Hilda Clark in 1900. Since then, numerous celebrities such as Joan Crawford, Ray Charles, The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Arnold Palmer and Joe Namath have attached themselves to the brand.

Coca-Cola purchased space in national magazines for the first time in 1904. By 1911, the company's advertising budget had skyrocketed to more than $1 million. In the 1920s, Coca-Cola added outdoor billboards and radio program sponsorships into its advertising mix. The famous Coca-Cola Christmas advertising campaigns began in 1931 with illustrations of St. Nicholas drinking Coca-Cola. The first television commercial for Coca-Cola premiered on Thanksgiving Day in 1950. One of the most memorable Coca-Cola TV commercials was 1993's "Northern Lights," which marked the debut of the Coca-Cola polar bears.

Not all of Coca-Cola's marketing ideas have been hits. In 1985, in an effort to compete with Pepsi, the company decided to change the formula for Coke for the first time in 99 years. The new drink was called "New Coke." The reaction to the new flavor was overwhelmingly negative, and Coca-Cola went back to the original recipe in just 79 days.

Joe Tripodi, chief marketing and commercial officer for Coca-Cola, said the company had more than $4 billion for its marketing budget in 2011. The major spending paid off as Coca-Cola was named Marketer of the Year in 2011 by AdAge.

Packaging
Coca-Cola was only served as a fountain drink until 1899 when Candler sold the U.S. bottling rights to Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead for $1. The Coca-Cola contour bottle went into production in 1916. The unique shape of the bottle was designed to distinguish Coca-Cola from its imitators. The 6.5 ounce contour bottle was the only packaging Coca-Cola used until 1955 when the king-sized package was introduced. Consumers had the option to purchase Coke in 10-, 12-, 16- and 26-ounce bottles in addition to the standard 6.5-ounce bottle. In 1960, Coca-Cola introduced 12-ounce steel cans to make its drinks more portable.

Coca-Cola went green in 2009 with 100% recyclable bottles made partially from plant-based materials. In 2011, Coca-Cola's seasonal holiday packaging was met with disdain by consumers. For the first time, regular Coke was put in white cans that customers said looked similar to the silver Diet Coke cans. The white cans were supposed to stay on shelves until February 2012, but were discontinued in December 2011 in favor of the classic red cans. In October 2012, Coca-Cola announced that it would stop production of 6.5-ounce glass bottles because they are no longer profitable.

Logos
The trademark Coca-Cola script logo was created in 1886 by Frank M. Robinson. A red and white graphic that represents two adjacent contour bottles, called the Dynamic Ribbon Device, was added to the logo in 1970. A shock of yellow and floating bubbles were added to the white twist in 2003 as part of the Coca-Cola Real campaign. Those enhancements were removed by 2007. For its 125th birthday, the company created a special logo that featured bubbles coming out of the contour bottle.

The Bottom Line
Coca-Cola was ranked sixth on the 2012 BrandZ list of 100 Most Valuable Global Brands. Competitor Pepsi followed well behind at No. 67. For more than a century, Coca-Cola has managed to retain its popularity and keep up with the times while still remaining entrenched in nostalgia. Despite competition, Coca-Cola is still one of the most successful and well-known brands in the world.

Photo Courtesy of asta.adamonyte

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Vitaminwater Has Been Coca-Cola’s Best Purchase

    Read about Coca-Cola's high profile acquisition of Glaceau Vitaminwater in 2007, and learn how the deal stacks up after more than half a decade of returns.
  2. Entrepreneurship

    Top 5 Startups That Emerged in Raleigh

    Learn about the startup scene in the Research Triangle hub of Raleigh, North Carolina. Discover which startups are the hottest to emerge from this tech city.
  3. Markets

    How TheSkimm Works and Makes Money

    Obtain information on the popular news digest newsletter, theSkimm, and understand how email newsletter publishers generate revenues.
  4. Professionals

    5 Ways to Merge Marketing and Your Hobbies

    Marketing your services is an ongoing part of your business. There's no better way to do it than by engaging in activities that you enjoy.
  5. Investing Basics

    10 Companies That Hipsters Love

    Learn about the different companies to which hipsters tend to gravitate, including Apple, Uber, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel.
  6. Stock Analysis

    How Much Coca-Cola Spends on Advertising

    Learn about Coca-Cola's ad spending and why the company has decided to spend the amount of money it does. Understand comparable companies and industries.
  7. Professionals

    Financial Advisors: Social Media Is a Gold Mine

    Learn how social media is a gold mine for financial advisers. Maintaining a social media presence enables you to reach customers, and it provides social proof.
  8. Professionals

    Top Referral Tips for Financial Advisors

    A referral from a friend, colleague or industry expert can go a long way in getting more prospective clients to give you a call. Be proactive about it.
  9. Stock Analysis

    What Puts the Dollars in Priceline's Bottom Line?

    The Priceline Group is more successful than it may appear and is on track to enjoy tremendous profits down the road.
  10. Professionals

    Advisors: Use Tech to Attract, Retain Clients

    Investors want an investment approach that blends technology and the human touch. Therefore, financial advisors should embrace technology.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Brand Identity

    The components of the brand are created by the business itself, ...
  2. Negative Option Deals

    A dubious business practice that involves supplying a typically ...
  3. Drip Pricing

    A pricing technique in which only part of a product or service’s ...
  4. Quick Response (QR) Code

    A type of bar code which can be read by a digital device, and ...
  5. Click Fraud

    Click fraud is the act of illegally clicking on pay-per-click ...
  6. Paid Syndication

    Web syndication is the promotion or inclusion of content on a ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How does a long tail become profitable?

    A long tail becomes profitable because the costs to produce, market and distribute a product or service in a niche are low, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do companies with a large product portfolio use BCG Analysis?

    BCG analysis is used to evaluate an organization's product portfolio in sales planning and marketing. It is specifically ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the similarities between product differentiation and product positioning?

    Product differentiation and product positioning are important elements in a marketing plan, and most marketing strategies ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why is product differentiation important in today's financial climate?

    Product differentiation is essential in today's financial climate. It allows the seller to contrast its own product with ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the major categories of financial risk for a company?

    There are many ways to categorize a company's financial risks. One possible perspective is provided by separating financial ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How has the Internet contributed to the long tail theory of marketing?

    The long-tail theory refers to a marketing strategy that relies on a large variety of slow-moving products to make huge sales ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!