Each year, Coca-Cola produces an annual review. It’s a document that stands out amidst a trove of marketing materials, media releases and other content, mostly because the annual review is just that – a once-a-year look at what’s been happening at Coca-Cola, plus some perspective on what’s ahead. 

“The annual review is really a snapshot in time, and you can learn a lot by looking at reviews from over the years,” said Clyde Tuggle, Coca-Cola’s chief communications officer. “It tells you about the company’s strategy, because the theme of each annual review is no accident – a lot of thought goes into it.”

This year, Coca-Cola’s annual review centered on the idea of “Shaping Our Future.” The goal was to reflect on what was unquestionably a challenging year while also looking ahead to the company’s work to rejuvenate growth in 2015. Download it here.

Background: Why Do We Do This?

Besides recapping financial results, the annual review can be… well, just about anything. Some companies produce big, glossy documents. Some annual reviews are digital-only. Some are little more than photocopies.

“We look at the annual review as being a statement of who we are,” Tuggle said. “Even in an era of tweets – and our chairman is tweeting now – the annual review is still a special, unique piece of content.”

The company has produced one every year since 1922. The first-ever annual review by any U.S. company dates to 1903 with U.S. Steel.


Photos: Getting to Work

Images are a big part of telling a business story, and many Coca-Cola annual reviews have focused on consumers. They’re featured in this year’s review, too, including on the cover. But, this time around, most of the images involve hard-working people who make the global Coca-Cola system run well every day.

The photo on the inside of the rear cover, for example, shows driver James Jones (pictured above). The 18-year Coke veteran was photographed outside Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market, which is part of his regular route in the city’s downtown area. “I enjoy my job,” Jones said. “I like being outside every day, and I enjoy talking to our customers.”  

Most of the featured photos are in black and white. “We decided to go with black-and-white because it feels back-to-basics. In many ways, that’s what we’re doing as a company right now,” Tuggle said. “We’ll succeed in restoring our growth in large part because of great execution in the marketplace. We wanted most of our photos to show real people at work. 

Timeline: Working All Day

The annual review also threads a lot of information around a 24-hour timeline that looks at how the company’s products are consumed throughout the day. This idea is a great fit for a company like Coca-Cola, which sells more than 3,600 products.

“When you look back at many annual reviews, they’re all about Coke – and for a long time, that’s all this company sold,” Tuggle said. “Our flagship brand gets a lot of attention this year, too, but today we’re in the business of serving every kind of beverage need.”

Coca-Cola bottle lineup

Celebration: The Famous Bottle

The theme "Shaping Our Future" is also a nod to Coke’s contour bottle, which turns a century old in 2015. The company is celebrating the anniversary in part by using the event as a sales driver – the 8-oz. contour bottle is on-trend in many markets where smaller, premium packaging is catching on with more consumers.

“We never thought of the 100th anniversary as just a birthday,” Tuggle said. “That would be about nostalgia. The contour bottle is about our business – it’s a historical package that matters as much as ever to our company." 

The Chairman: His Message

Ever since Coca-Cola first created an annual review, the centerpiece has always been a letter from the company’s top leader. In 1922, Charles H. Candler wrote about a flood of requests to carry Coke from would-be distributors around the world. But this was an era when Coke’s priority was closer to home – the company still had a lot of growth ahead in the United States, so global expansion was a distant priority.

This year, Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent wrote about the vast opportunities the company sees for growth all around the world. Coca-Cola has been restructuring operations in every pocket of the company, in part to better focus on serving changing consumer demands.

Annual Review

The Shape: Thinking Big

Finally, the annual review’s theme of "Shaping Our Future" also features a literal change in shape. This year’s printed version is bigger than in the past, with an oversized format of 9.5 inches by 13 inches. The size is meant to be a subtle signal of changing times at Coca-Cola. At the same time, the cost to print was kept virtually the same.

The traditional, printed version was complemented once again by an online counterpart called “The Year In Review found here on Coca-Cola Journey.

The digital version comes with boundless options for video and interactive features. “We always rethink the annual review,” Tuggle said. “Will it always include a print publication? Maybe, but maybe not. Regardless of how we deliver it, the annual review will always be an important piece of content.”