The Coca-Cola Company made quite a few headlines in 2018 as it continued to forge a new strategic growth path – from new beverages and campaigns, to major acquisitions and investments, to innovative marketing, equipment and packaging, to bold sustainability initiatives and milestones.  

Before the calendar jumps to 2019, here’s a look back at a few of our most notable news stories from the last 12 months:

World Without Waste

A World Without Waste: Coca-Cola Announces Ambitious Sustainable Packaging Goal

In January, Coca-Cola announced an industry-first goal to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally by 2030. The company and its global network of bottling partners will tackle the ambitious goal, which is part of a holistic plan called “World Without Waste,” through a renewed focus on the entire packaging lifecycle – from how bottles and cans are designed and made, to how they’re recycled and repurposed. Read the full story.

The Coca-Cola Company to Acquire Costa

In August, Coca-Cola reached a definitive agreement to acquire Costa Limited from parent company Whitbread. Costa operations include a leading brand, nearly 4,000 retail outlets with highly trained baristas, a coffee vending operation, for-home coffee formats and Costa’s state-of-the-art roastery. For Coca-Cola, the expected acquisition adds a scalable coffee platform with critical know-how and expertise in a fast-growing, on-trend category. Costa is the leading coffee company in the United Kingdom and has a growing footprint in China and other markets. Read the full story here, and get James Quincey’s take here.

Diet Coke SXSW

Gabriel Alba

Diet Coke Launches Into 2018 With Full Brand Restage in North America

America’s No. 1-selling zero-calorie beverage brand entered a new era in January with an updated look, sleek new packaging, four bold new flavors and a new marketing campaign. “Diet Coke is one of the most iconic brands loved by millions of fans in North America,” said Rafael Acevedo, Coca-Cola North America’s group director for Diet Coke. “Throughout this relaunch journey, we wanted to be bold, think differently and be innovative in our approach. And most importantly, we wanted to stay true to the essence of Diet Coke while recasting the brand for a new generation.” Read the full story.

The Coca-Cola Foundation Announces $1 Billion Giving Milestone

The Coca-Cola Foundation Announces $1 Billion Giving Milestone

The Coca-Cola Foundation has given back more than $1 billion to communities worldwide since its inception in 1984, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey announced in October at the Atlanta Police Foundation’s 15th Annual Crime is Toast breakfast. In addition to serving its hometown of Atlanta, The Coca-Cola Foundation has reached more than 655 million people worldwide over the last 30-plus years through its support of more than 2,400 organizations with a focus on protecting the environment, empowering women, education, and enhancing communities. Read a Q&A with Helen Smith Price, president of The Coca-Cola Foundation, about this global giving milestone and what it means to the communities Coca-Cola serves.

BODYARMOR

Coca-Cola to Acquire Minority Stake in BODYARMOR with Path to Ownership

In August, Coca-Cola took a minority ownership stake in BODYARMOR, a fast-growing line of premium sports performance and hydration beverages. Through this strategic relationship, BODYARMOR will remain an independent company and gain access to the expansive Coca-Cola bottling and distribution system. The initial investment, part of the Coca-Cola North America Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) portfolio, is structured to create value for both companies and allow Coca-Cola to increase its ownership stake over time. Read a Q&A with BODYARMOR Co-Founder and Chairman Mike Repole and Coca-Cola North America President Jim Dinkins.

Coke Freestyle

Coca-Cola Freestyle Unveils Next-Gen Fountain Dispenser, New Operating System and More

Coke unveiled the newest member of the Freestyle family – the Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100 – in May at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) tradeshow in Chicago. The unit, which will be available nationally in 2019, features a 24-inch, high-definition touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity, which lets fans connect to the Freestyle mobile app when they enter an outlet with a machine and cue up their favorite beverage or create a new mix. A new, agile Coca-Cola Freestyle operating system includes a revamped touchscreen menu designed to make it easier and faster for users to find the beverages they want. Read the full story.

Valser

Coke North America Uses Indiegogo for Test-and-Learn Pilot of Valser Mineral Water

Coca-Cola North America used the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform to gauge America’s thirst for Valser, a premium mineral water that has long been available in Europe. The summer campaign gave early backers an opportunity to be the first in the U.S. to purchase 750-ml glass bottles of Valser Classic (sparkling) or Valser Silence (still) – shipped directly from Switzerland – and provide feedback on its taste, brand proposition and price. The company exceeded its crowdfunding target for the one-month campaign and is now piloting the brand in select restaurants in Atlanta. Read the full story.

Arby’s Sets Guinness World Records for Largest and Smallest Ads With Coca-Cola Partnership Reveal

In June, Arby’s made big news in America’s smallest town with a larger-than-life reveal. The sandwich restaurant brand announced its exclusive beverage partnership with Coca-Cola by revealing a 212,000-sq. ft. banner on a farm in Monowi, Nebraska (population: one). Guinness World Records officially recognized the ad, which read “Arby’s now has Coke” in bold red lettering against a white backdrop spanning nearly five acres, as the world’s largest advertisement. Arby’s teased the reveal with an ad on the opposite end of the size and scale spectrum. Engineers at Georgia Tech’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology in Atlanta etched “A big announcement is coming. This isn’t it.” onto a sesame seed from an Arby’s bun using a focused ion beam. The 38.3um by 19.2um seed was officially recognized with the Guinness World Records title of the world’s smallest advertisement. Read the full story.

Dear Future Community Hubs

Dear Future: Coca-Cola Co. USA Calls on Young Adults for Change-Making Ideas to Renew Local Communities

This summer, The Coca-Cola Company and its 68 independently owned bottlers invited young Americans to help deliver a better tomorrow through the “Dear Future [Community] Challenge.” Through Oct. 15, 18 to 24-year-olds across the U.S. submitted ideas to tackle community-specific challenges – from recycling in Boston, to getting women and girls involved in public service in Los Angeles, to helping military veterans transition to civilian careers in Dallas. Coca-Cola and its local bottlers then teamed up with Coca-Cola Scholars and community partners to evaluate submissions and award $30,000 grants to 17 change-making ideas. These community leaders are now mentoring and collaborating with the winners to make their visions a reality. Read the full story.