To hear some tell it, April 23, 1985, was a day that will live in marketing infamy.
On that day, The
Swinging for the Fences
That firestorm ended with the return of the original formula, now called
"We set out to change the dynamics of sugar colas in the United States, and we did exactly that -- albeit not in the way we had planned," then chairman and chief executive officer Roberto Goizueta said in 1995 at a special employee event honoring the 10-year anniversary of "new Coke."
"But the most significant result of 'new Coke' by far," Mr. Goizueta said, "was that it sent an incredibly powerful signal ... a signal that we really were ready to do whatever was necessary to build value for the owners of our business."
Slideshow: New Coke Cans and Advertisements From 1985
Factors That Shaped the Launch Decision
The story of "new Coke" is widely recalled, but the context is often forgotten. In 1985, The
The fabled secret formula for
The events of the spring and summer of '85 — pundits blasting the "marketing blunder of the century," consumers hoarding the "old" Coke, calls of protests by the thousands — changed forever The
At the 10-year anniversary celebration, Mr. Goizueta characterized the "new Coke" decision as a prime example of "taking intelligent risks." He urged all employees to take intelligent risks in their jobs, saying it was critical to the company's success. Many of the employees there that day had worked for the company in 1985 and remembered the thousands of calls and consumer complaints.
Calls flooded in not just to the 800-GET-COKE phone line, but to
Mr. Goizueta received a letter addressed to "Chief Dodo, The
When the taste change was announced, some consumers panicked, filling their basements with cases of Coke®. A man in San Antonio, Texas, drove to a local bottler and bought $1,000 worth of
Protest groups — such as the Society for the Preservation of the Real Thing and Old Cola Drinkers of America (which claimed to have recruited 100,000 in a drive to bring back "old" Coke) — popped up around the country. Songs were written to honor the old taste. Protesters at a
The Return of a Classic
When the announcement of the return of "old"
That July day, the story that the "old"
The events of 1985 changed forever the dynamics of the soft-drink industry and the success of The
More On Journey
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Getting People to Try
Coca-Colain the 1980s