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Cover Story: The Brand Comes First

By:  Ted Ryan May 15, 2013
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Time Magazine cover - May 15, 1950

On May 15th, 1950, the Time magazine cover featured the famous red disc of The Coca-Cola Company serving a globe of the world an ice cold Coca-Cola in our classic contour bottle. That date and the cover marked a milestone for Coca-Cola.

A Global Brand

The foundation of Coca-Cola as a global brand began when Robert W. Woodruff established the Coca-Cola Foreign Service Department in 1926.  That expansion was hastened when Coca-Cola built 64 bottling plants around the world to fulfill Woodruff’s pledge that every soldier should be able to receive a Coke for a nickel regardless of what it cost the Company.  By 1950, as the Time magazine article states, “The Sun Never Sets on Cacoola” and Coca-Cola was acknowledged as one of the first truly global brands. 

The five page story highlights the overseas operations and notes that the expansive growth was due in large part because the rigorous training of international associates and that the business was essentially a local operation in every country where Coca-Cola did business.  “Coca-Cola … leaves the profit from these In all countries where it is bottled, Coca-Cola stimulates local industry; virtually all the cooler, bottles, cases, uniforms and advertising material used in foreign countries are made outside the US.”

The cover illustration was created by Boris Artzybasheff, a noted illustrator who did more than 200 Time Magazine covers between 1941 and 1965.  Within The Coca-Cola Company, the cover carries particular significance because, Robert Woodruff, our longtime leader, was asked to pose for the cover but declined noting that the brand was more important than any one man at the Company.  His long term vision for The Coca-Cola Company at the conclusion of the Time feature still ring true today, “We’re not selling the world short; we’re playing the world long.  We decided that we would live with the world and that the world would survive, that it must survive, as a decent place to live in.”