The leadership of The Coca-Cola Company gathered at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York's Lincoln Center at11:00 am on April 23rd, 1985 for an important announcement. In the words of Chairman Roberto Goizueta, "The best has been made even better." The 99 year old secret formula for Coca-Cola was being replaced by New Coke.
Most of the readers of the blog know the rest of the story: the protest, the countless calls the 800-GET-COKE number, the lawsuits and the eventual admission of a mistake by The Coca-Cola Company 79 days later when Coca-Cola was returned to the market as "Classic" Coke.
For the first time in the 25 years that have passed since that momentous meeting we are unveiling some new documents for display at The World of Coca-Cola. These items will be added to the New Coke case in the Pop Culture Gallery and include Roberto Goizueta's hand annotated speech from the Lincoln Center event where he crossed out several remarks about the secrecy of the launch. We also included one of the binders form the lawsuit from the Old Cola Drinkers of America and the briefing document for Project Kansas (New Coke internal codename.) I hope that if you are in Atlanta, you will be able to visit the World of Coke to see the new display.
The key learning for The Coca-Cola Company was that we proved the brand does not belong to us... it belongs to our consumers, when we took it away, we sparked a call to action. We heard the message then and still live by it now.
I would like to share a video of a speech made by the then President of the Coca-Cola Company, Donald R. Keough. These remarks, made at the press conference for the return of Coke Classic, were called the greatest performance by an American businessmen by a key marketer at the time. I think they do a great job in summarizing what we learned about our brand.