From buzzworthy brand launches and the biggest-ever global marketing campaign in Coca-Cola history, to innovative partnerships, ventures and alliances, our company made more than a few headlines this year.

Before we officially turn the page to 2015, let's look back at 14 noteworthy Coke news stories from 2014:

1. A 'Beautiful' Big Game Ad

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Near the end of the first half of the 2014 Big Game, Coca-Cola premiered a 60-second salute to all Americans and the Coca-Cola moments they share. Set to “America the Beautiful” sung by citizens in seven languages, “It’s Beautiful” featured scenes showcasing the country’s expansive landscapes – from the Pacific shores to the desert Southwest –interspersed with neighborhoods, metro cityscapes and tucked-away cafes. The spot, which provided a snapshot into real lives of Americans representing diverse ethnicities, religions, races and families, fueled a healthy conversation on Coca-Cola Journey and continued our flagship brand's legacy of culturally relevant advertising. Watch the spot and get the full behind-the-scenes story.

2. An Epic Olympic Torch Relay

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Coca-Cola promoted the Olympic spirit by land, air and sea via the 35,000-mile Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay. The 123-day trek – the longest in Olympic history – reached the North Pole, plunged to the depths of the world’s deepest freshwater lake, climbed to the peak of a volcano, descended to the bottom of the world's largest diamond mine and even took its first-ever spacewalk. A record 14,000 torchbearers carried the Olympic flame, which traveled by foot, helicopter, train, boat, snowmobile, icebreaker, jet pack, horseback, reindeer sleigh, hot-air balloon, snowboard and other alternative means of transportation to reach 90 percent of Russia’s population. Check out an amazing gallery of photos from the relay.

3.  A Monster Partnership

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Coca-Cola and Monster Beverage Corporation announced a long-term strategic partnership in August, combining the strength of Coke's global bottling system with Monster’s dedicated focus and expertise as a leading energy drink player. The agreement, expected to close in early 2015, gives Coke an approximately 16.7 percent minority ownership interest in Monster and initially two director spots on Monster’s Board. Read the full press release and explore three factors driving the innovative transaction, which will speed growth for both companies in the fast-moving energy category.

4.  A Summer of Sharing 

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Americans got on a first-name basis with their Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero this summer when the “Share a Coke” campaign made its U.S. debut. Coke swapped out three of its iconic logos on 20-oz. bottles for the 250 most popular first names among American teens and Millennials, driving both online buzz and sales. The campaign came to life via social media, where fans could personalize virtual bottles to share with friends, post photos for the chance to appear on Coke digital billboards, and more. “Share a Coke” launched in Australia in 2010 and has since rolled out in more than 50 countries. Learn more about the hit U.S. campaign.

5.  SURGE Returns, By Popular Demand

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Fans thirsty for a taste of ‘90s nostalgia – or those simply craving a citrus-flavored sparkling beverage with a kick – rejoiced in the news that SURGE was back after a 12-year hiatus. SURGE, which debuted in 1996 and was taken off the market in the early 2000s, mounted its comeback in September thanks, in part, to a passionately persistent community of brand loyalists who for years lobbied Coca-Cola to bring back their favorite drink. The re-launch represented a pair of additional firsts for Coke: SURGE is the first discontinued Coca-Cola brand to return to the market and the first Coke product to be distributed solely through e-commerce (via an innovative distribution deal with Amazon). Learn more about the comeback, meet the three fans behind the SURGE Movement, and check out a gallery of fan-submitted SURGE photos.

6.  Celebrating the 'World's Cup' 

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The faces of football fans from 207 countries made it onto the pitch at Arena de Sao Paulo before the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup as Coca-Cola unveiled “The Happiness Flag” before an estimated global audience of more than 1 billion people. The largest-ever, digitally produced Photomosaic® flag used more than 200,000 fan-submitted images to recreate a unique design by Brazilian street artist Speto in collaboration with Argentinian artist Tec. The Happiness Flag punctuated Coke’s largest-ever marketing campaign, “The World’s Cup,” which celebrated the inclusive spirit shared by Coca-Cola, football and Brazil. “At the start of our campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, ‘The World’s Cup’, we set out to create the most inclusive and participatory FIFA World Cup ever,” said Emmanuel Seuge, senior vice president of content for Coca-Cola North America. “Football has an incredible power to bridge social, cultural and geographical divides, and the Happiness Flag is the perfect illustration of this power, creating a shared experience for people.” Revisit highlights from "The World's Cup" – which also included a series of inspirational films, a global music anthem, the 90-country FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, and a visual identity inspired by Brazilian street art – here.

 

7.  Coca-Cola Life Makes U.S. Debut

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Following an initial summer rollout across the Southeast, Coca-Cola Life expanded nationwide in November. At 60 calories per 8-oz. glass bottle, the company’s first reduced-calorie sparkling beverage sweetened with cane sugar and stevia leaf extract has 35 percent fewer calories than other leading colas. Consumers can discover Coca-Cola Life, which is also available in Argentina, Chile, Great Britain, Mexico and Sweden, through more than 4,000 sampling opportunities nationwide, and the brand’s distinctive green label and visual identity will stand out in store displays and the Coca-Cola Digital Network of electronic billboards. Learn more.

8.  A K-Cup of Tea... and More 

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Honest Tea fans can now brew the organic beverage at home, one cup at a time, thanks to an innovative partnership between Coke and Keurig Green Mountain. America’s No. 1 organic bottled iced tea is the first Coca-Cola Company brand to be offered in K-Cup packs for use in the Keurig hot brewing system. Consumers in the U.S. and Canada can order Honest Tea’s unsweetened Just Green and Just Black iced tea K-Cup packs at Keurig.com. In February, Coca-Cola and Keurig Green Mountain inked a 10-year deal to collaborate on the development and introduction of Coke’s global brand portfolio for use in the forthcoming Keurig Cold at-home beverage system. As part of the agreeement, Coca-Cola acquired a 10 percent minority equity stake in Keurig, which it plans to increase to up to 16 percent. Learn more.

9.  Showcasing Women's Empowerment 

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A pair of special guests joined Coke’s annual shareowners meeting in Atlanta to highlight an issue very important to the company’s business and society at large: women’s economic empowerment. Award-winning journalist Maria Shriver discussed the findings of the latest Shriver Report – A Woman's Nation Pushes Back From the Brink – which showcases the 42 million working women in the U.S. who are on the verge of poverty and the 28 million children who depend on them. And Malehlohonolo Moleko, a bakery and shop owner from South Africa, spoke about how Coke’s 5by20 initiative has armed her with entrepreneurial business skills training and other resources to help build her business. Get 10 takeaways from the business portion of the April meeting, and watch video highlights from the program featuring Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, Shriver and Moleko. 

10.  Project Last Mile Goes the Extra Mile

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If you can find a bottle of Coca-Cola anywhere in the world, why not life-saving medicines? That critical question inspired a partnership between Coca-Cola, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Project Last Mile,” which uses Coca-Cola’s supply chain, distribution, logistics and marketing expertise to help African governments get vital medicines and supplies the “last mile” to remote, hard-to-reach communities, which launched in 2010 in Tanzania and expanded to Ghana in 2013. This summer, Project Last Mile’s founding partners and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced plans to expand the partnership to eight additional African countries over the next five years, starting with Mozambique. The coalition will invest more than $21 million, plus significant in-kind resources. Learn more.

11.  Growing the Business, Not the Carbon 

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In January, Coke announced the commercial installation of its 1 millionth hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-free cooler using natural refrigerant, preventing the emission of 5.25 million metric tons of CO2 over 10 years. The milestone marks significant progress in the company’s effort to phase out the use of HFC refrigerant—a well-known contributor to climate change—in Coca-Cola dispensers, vending machines and coolers globally. Coke has improved its cooling equipment energy efficiency by 40 percent since 2000 and eliminated 75 percent of direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by transitioning to HFC-free insulation foam for new equipment. Get the full story.

12.  Upping Our Investment in Africa

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The Coca-Cola Company and its African bottling partners announced a new $5 billion investment during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The investment, which will be made over the next six years, increases our total announced investment in Africa to $17 billion from 2010 to 2020. It will fund new manufacturing lines, cooling and distribution equipment and production; create additional jobs and opportunities across our African supply chain; and support key sustainability initiatives and programs focused on safe water access, sustainable sourcing, women’s economic empowerment, community well-being and operational efficiency improvements. Read Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent's take on the strategy behind the investment.

13.  Real-Time Marketing Takes Center Stage at Cannes

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Engaging always-on consumers in real time requires brands like Coke to rethink how they create, curate and share content, Wendy Clark explained during keynote remarks at the 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In a seminar titled #AnyGivenTuesday, the president of sparkling and strategic marketing for Coca-Cola North America explained how two interconnected teams are executing Coke’s planned approach to real-time marketing – for major campaigns like the 2014 FIFA World Cup and on any given day. The Hub, a network of more than 20 consumer interaction facilities around the world linked to an Atlanta-based center, analyzes social conversations about Coca-Cola brands. The Hustle content development team operates like a newsroom to source, create and distribute shareable, real-time content around the world based on The Hub’s insights. Click here for lessons Coke has learned on its real-time marketing journey, and get the scoop on the 14 Cannes Lions the company took home at the festival.

 

 

14.  Creating a Win-Win: Coke Embraces New Startup Model

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In high-tech hubs around the world – from San Francisco to Sydney, Berlin to Buenos Aires – hand-picked teams of entrepreneurs are building new startups with the support of Coke’s marketing muscle, distribution network and other assets. “We’re trying to create a win-win,” David Butler, Coke’s global VP of innovation and entrepreneurship, says about the new Coca-Cola Founders platform. “First we partner with experienced entrepreneurs and invite them to join our global co-founder network. Next we connect them with a senior-level advisor inside one of our business units and go deep into the challenges and opportunities we’re facing at Coke. And finally, we give them open access to Coca-Cola’s relationships, resources and reach before they develop an idea into a startup. Our goal is to help our founders grow big new, high-growth businesses while helping us grow Coca-Cola at the same time.” Get the scoop on the program.