From a bold new marketing strategy for the Coca-Cola Trademark, to investments in emerging beverage categories, to major sustainability milestones, The Coca-Cola Company made more than a few headlines this year.
Before we officially turn the page to 2017, here's a look back at 16 noteworthy Coke stories from 2016:
Marking a significant shift in its marketing strategy, Coca-Cola announced in January 2016 that for the first time, all Coke Trademark brands will be united in one global creative campaign: “Taste the Feeling.” Chief Marketing Officer Marcos de Quinto, who unveiled the “one brand” approach at a media event in Paris, said the strategy extends the equity and iconic appeal of the world’s No. 1 beverage brand to Coca-Cola Light/Diet Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero and Coca-Cola Life. It also underscores the company’s commitment to choice, offering consumers whichever Coca-Cola suits their taste, lifestyle and diet – with or without calories, with or without caffeine.
Coca-Cola President and Chief Operating Officer James Quincey will succeed Muhtar Kent as CEO in May 2017, the company announced in December. We spoke with Quincey and Kent about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the business.
What began as an aspirational goal nine years ago became a global industry milestone in Auguest when Coca-Cola became the first Fortune 500 company to replenish the equivalent amount of water used in its global sales volume and production back to nature and communities. In 2007, Coca-Cola committed to replenishing every liter of water used in its global sales volume and production by the end of 2020. The announcement, made at the start of World Water Week in Stockholm, means the company and its bottling partners have achieved this aggressive target five years ahead of schedule.
Coca-Cola continues to transform the company to a higher-margin, higher-return business, which includes leading a strong, dedicated global franchise system. The company made solid progress toward this goal in 2016, including refranchising agreements involving territories around the world. This complex process includes refranchising in the flagship North American market. In 2016, many territories in the United States transitioned to new or expanding bottlers.
China’s Ice Dew and smartwater, which is offer in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and South Korea, both passed $1 billion in annual retail sales in 2015. Since 2007, The Coca-Cola Company has added 10 brands to its billion-dollar portfolio across a range of beverage categories. Not far behind, a pipeline of 14 additional brands currently generate annual retail sales between $500 million and $1 billion.
The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola FEMSA announced plans to acquire Unilever’s AdeS soy-based beverage business. Founded in 1988 in Argentina, AdeS is the leading soy-based beverages brand in Latin America. As the first major brand launched in the category, AdeS pioneered the development of the second-largest global market for soy-based beverages. The brand is currently available in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia. The deal was one of several investments Coke made in emerging beverage companies in 2016, including China Green plant-based protein bevearges, Nigerian juice and value-added dairy company Chi Limited and U.S.-based aloe water company Aloe Gloe.
Coca-Cola is evolving both strategically through a growth plan for sparkling and still beverages that focuses heavily on driving revenue, and structurally through an accelerated plan to refranchise company-owned bottling territories, senior executives explained in February 2016 at a Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference. “We’re transforming the company,” President and Chief Operating Officer James Quincey said. “The numbers will look very different, but we think we and the system will emerge stronger and more successful in the coming years.”
Coke’s global marketing for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games celebrated the “gold” moments fans around the world – not just medal-winning athletes – share each day. The #ThatsGold campaign included two TV commercials featuring archival footage from past Olympic Games interspersed with images of some the world’s top athletes enjoying "gold" moments both on and off the podium with a Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light/Diet, Coca-Cola Zero or a Coca-Cola Life. The campaign, which rolled in 50 countries, also featured series of print/outdoor ads showcasing more than 20 Olympians from around the world in authentic, everyday scenarios.
Coca-Cola North America is brewing up a multi-brand strategy to compete more aggressively in the piping-hot cold coffee category. In early 2017, the company will roll out a range of diverse yet complementary ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee offerings. Gold Peak, a billion-dollar iced tea brand in the U.S., will introduce two flavors of both cold-brew coffees (Salted Caramel and Almond Toffee) and bottled tea lattes (Chai and Vanilla). Coca-Cola also will produce, distribute and market a line of Dunkin’ Donuts-branded iced coffee beverages, which will be sold in grocery stores, convenience stores and in Dunkin' Donuts restaurant. Four flavors – Original, Mocha, Espresso and French Vanilla – will be offered in re-sealable PET bottles.
The Coca-Cola Company has made strong progress toward its goal of enabling the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across its value chain by the year 2020, according to data released in April 2016. Thanks to growth in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, Coca-Cola’s global 5by20 initiative has reached more than 1.2 million women entrepreneurs across 60 countries since 2010. In 2015 alone, the initiative reached more than 372,000 women entrepreneurs, an increase of 43 percent over the prior year.
The merger creating the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler officially closed in May, combining the operations of Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), Coca-Cola Iberian Partners (CCIP) and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke GmbH (CCEG). Coca-Cola European Partners will serve more than 300 million consumers across 13 countries in Western Europe. The landmark deal combines the complementary strengths and local relationships of the three partner bottlers, positioning the Coca-Cola system to compete more effectively across multiple beverage categories through a world-class production, sales and distribution platform. We spoke with Sol Daurella, chairman of Coca-Cola European Partners, to learn more about the new consolidated bottler and the impact it will have not only on the Coca-Cola system, but on retail customers and consumers across Western Europe.
“This beautiful piece of paper you own is worth over 110 percent more to you today than it was 10 years ago,” Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent told a crowd of nearly 500 shareowners in April, holding up a KO stock certificate. “And I am quite sure that 10 years from now, the leadership of The Coca-Cola Company will be saying the same thing at this very same meeting.” The company’s Annual Meeting of Shareowners at the World of Coca-Cola in downtown’s Pemberton Place – located just a few blocks from where the first-ever Coca-Cola was poured nearly 130 years ago – provided both a look back at 2015 and a look ahead at where the business is headed in the years to come.
Five Millennial employees spearheaded Coke's new U.S. parental leave policy. From left: Melina Baetti, Sarah Dearman, Katherine Cherry, Valerie Alva-Ruiz and Courtney Stillwagon.
Eligible Coca-Cola employees in the U.S. can take advantage of an enhanced parental leave policy that extends paid benefits to all moms and dads. The policy, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, offers six weeks of paid leave to all new parents at the company*, including moms and dads, and adoptive and foster parents. These benefits supplement the six to eight weeks of paid leave Coke currently provides to birth mothers through short-term disability. The policy was championed by Coca-Cola Millennial Voices, a group of young employees tapped to serve as a kickstarter for change to help the company attract and retain both Millennial employees and consumers.
Coca-Cola celebrated its 130th birthday near the location where its flagship beverage was first served on May 8, 1886 by thanking its hometown with a $1.8 million grant to improve support improvements in and around downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park District. Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent announced the grant alongside Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at a celebration hosted at the intersection of Peachtree and Marietta streets.
Since hitting the market in 2009, Coca-Cola Freestyle has reinvented the fountain beverage experience by offering an unprecedented array of drink choices in a fun, interactive format. And the sleek, touchscreen-operated dispensers are boosting guest traffic and beverage sales in restaurants, cinemas, amusement parks, convenience stores and other Coca-Cola customers across North America and a handful of other countries.The Freestyle distribution footprint has doubled in size since 2014 and shows no signs of slowing down. More than 40,000 units are currently serving a combined 14 million 8-ounce drinks per day, and machines are being installed each week in new markets and channels. We caught up with Coca-Cola Freestyle leads Joel Bishop and Chris Hellmann for an update on initial results, recent developments and the road ahead.
The Coca-Cola Company and its Palestinian bottling partner, National Beverage Company (NBC), inaugurated the first Coca-Cola bottling plant in Gaza in late-November. The new plant represents a $20 million investment and expands NBC’s Palestinian operations to four bottling plants and four distribution centers. To coincide with the inauguration, The Coca-Cola Foundation and NBC also officially announced a new $1.3 million charitable initiative that will be implemented by the global organization Mercy Corps and is designed to address two regional development challenges – ensuring access to clean drinking water and creating employment opportunities for Palestinian youth. Learn more.