"When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks." -Fight Club
Everyone is familiar with at least one Coca-Cola
advertisement because the company has been in the business of marketing their product for over one hundred years, and continues to do so today. They are credited for the image of today’s Santa, as well as created a memorable commercial with the song I’d Like To Give The World A Coke
. It is very clear that their advertising has had a major impact on American culture since its first advertisement in 1886, when it created a sign stating “drink Coca-Cola” in a pharmacy window.
The first marketing effort was made in 1892, with a budget around $11,000, which was a great amount to be spent on advertising in that age. With that money, Coca-Cola hired sales men to travel around the country to promote the product for Soda Fountain owners to buy. In order to do this, Coca-Cola offered the fountain owners free merchandise such as decorative clocks, porcelain fountain urns, prescription scales, prescription cabinets, and showcases, all of which displayed the Coca-Cola name. They also handed out sample coupons so that people could try Coca-Cola for free.
In 1906 Coca-cola’s advertising was taken over by an advertising agency, D’Arcy Agency, who convinced Coke to take out newspaper advertisements. These were created by a man named Archie Lee
, who was the creative director for most of the ads during the D’Arcy era. This was the start of fifty years of business together.
As time continued on, Coca-Cola began to put their name on everything they could, newspaper advertisements, sides of buildings, calendars, change trays, and posters. Coca-Cola was becoming a household name
by this point.
In 1916 the company moved away from its plainer ‘Drink Coke’ Advertisements to ones featuring Stylish men and women enjoying the Cola. Of course, Coke tried to make themselves seem new and better than the competition by having the women in the advertisement wear the latest fashion, which happened to be a low cut bodice. This advertisement brought on protest, but the Cola company continued to use the women anyway.
To create a differential advantage
from similar products Coca-Cola also changed their look. The new bottle was designed to be unmistakably Coke at first glance, even in the dark, or in pieces. This bottle was featured in all the new print ads, which were characterized by people relaxing and being ‘refreshed’. At this time D'Arcy began to use sex to sell the product by placing women in bathing suits in the advertisements.
D’Arcy’s advertising is characterized as having arrows in the ads. Placing them as straight ones which pointed to the trade mark, or curved ones encircling the copy and pointing towards the same trademark.
Soon the advertising budget for the company reached $500,000. During this time Coca-Cola continued to plaster their name on everything they could get hold of, even hot air balloons that gave free rides to cardboard cut outs that were used at Soda Fountains
. In 1909, Coca-Cola was considered the best advertised article of the year.
CHANGING THE MOOD TO FIT AMERICA
During the depression the campaign was called The Pause That Refreshes
. This time the yearly budget was five million dollars. Coke continued to push their product to those suffering in the Depression
as a product that would alleviate their worries, giving Coke a home in everyone’s heart.
In the 1920’s and 30’s Coca-Cola again changed their advertising. This time they spent a bulk of their money producing pamphlets
and advertisements dispelling rumors that their product contained cocaine and was habit forming and unhealthy. Of course, no cocaine was ever found in the product at that time.
A major milestone in Cola’s advertising history happened in the 1930’s with its advertisements featuring Santa
. Prior to this, Santa was rendered as a dwarf. Coke changed the way we view Santa today be making him a jolly fat man in their advertisements, which was meant to associate Coke with family, togetherness, and childhood memories around Christmas. In fact, these commercials were so popular that they still exist today, and appear throughout the Holidays.
Another first made by Coca-Cola was the neon sign in Times Square
, which helped Coke continue to keep with the modern image it had always tried to project. In 1929 Coke also began to advertise on the Radio.
A NEW MEDIA
Coca-Cola made their first entry into Radio network programming in 1930, with 'Coca-Cola Top Notchers', a weekly, live, 30 minute Sports/Variety show. From that point on Coca-Cola sponsored a variety of other radio shows such as the Coca-Cola Hour, and Coca-Cola Spotlight Bands, among nine other shows.
Throughout this time, considered the Golden Age of Radio
, Coca-Cola had a theme song which tied most of their offerings together. Called the ‘Coca-Cola Waltz’, which became the company’s signature radio theme.
During the first World War, times changed, and Coke continued to set the pace by promoting national pride and self respect among Americans. Many of the ads during this time displayed soldiers enjoying coke, while to copy read “Our fighting men can still enjoy Coca-Cola many places overseas”. From this point on Cola was seen as a part of the fabric of America, for which the soldiers were fighting for.
After the war, Coca-Cola promoted its image as part of a fun, carefree American lifestyle
, showing happy couples at a drive-in or carefree moms driving big yellow convertibles on their ads, reflecting the spirit of the ‘50s. Coca-Cola also began to display minority groups in their advertisements during this time. Beginning with African Americans, whom they also began to target. The first ads of this sort featured famous African American musicians and sports celebrities.
The 1950’s were also the time that the company began to experiment with new media. Television. To continue to reach its radio audience, Coke sponsored a special on Thanksgiving day, 1950, and also in conjunction, showed its first commercial at that same time. For the next three years Coca-Cola would sponsor other programs like ‘Coke Time with Eddie Fisher’.
D’Arcy then developed three basic types of commercials by 1953, after the internal advertising department at Coke had asked for time to develop a strategy to create effective advertising for television. In one type, The Coca-Cola Company offered station-identification slides that aired for up to twenty seconds. These usually featured a piece of print art with the station call letters, accompanied by a voice-over announcement. D'Arcy also created its first live-action motion-picture films, in twenty-second and one-minute spots. The twenty-second spots used what D'Arcy described as stop motion
technique, in which "the objects shown in each one (bottles, sandwiches, a telephone, a typewriter, etc.) move and perform action by themselves without the presence of live actors. The result is a series of fresh and novel spots sure to attract a lot of attention and interest."
THE END OF AN ERA: NEW BEGINNINGS
In 1956, affected by the deaths of both d’Arcy and Archie Lee, and facing the task of advertising in new media, Coke decided to switch agencies, from D’Arcy to McCann-Erikson. From there, McCann was able to create a few successful ad campaigns, including, Things Go Better with Coke
, which was easily translated into different languages, and spread around the world by different musicians. The agency also began to experiment with color film. An experimental reel of film was taken of Coke bottles, and glasses to find at what type of lighting the product looked best in, which lead to the first color commercial, “Refrigerator-Man” in 1964.
During the 70’s, which was embrittled with political uncertainty, Coke came up with a campaign which highlighted the positive aspects of American life, called “Look up, America.” Typical American scenes were shown, while the announcer asked Americans to ‘look up for real things’. By this time Coke had also begun to display advertisements with African Americans and Caucasians side by side, enjoying Coke. Of course, between the days of the 50’s and 70’s Coke also featured ads with no people in them whatsoever to also appeal to those still suffering from racial tensions.
The “Coke Adds Life” campaign released in ‘76 took three years of market research, and hundreds of lines of copy to perfect. The Ads emphasized refreshment and tried to show Coke as the perfect accompaniment to food, fun, and leisure. The campaign highlighted the soft drink's role in many situations common to consumers around the globe, and the campaign's theme was adapted to appeal to a worldwide audience. It centered around a single melody and one set of lyrics. For television, the music served as a background for dozens of vignettes featuring people from many walks of life drinking Coca-Cola while working or relaxing. For this, Cola won 1979 CLIO award in the world's largest advertising awards competition.
Then, in the 80’s, another mile stone for the Coca-Cola company happened in the form of a commercial which is still families today, and has recently been brought back in different form. The ad campaign “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke”, which featured a song and video of a chorus from countries all over the world singing together. The song took off and became so popular it was often heard being hummed or whistled on the street. In 1982 Coke unleashed a New Coke
, in northern America with the help of television advertising. The public demanded the return of the older Coke, making Coca-Cola bring it back, and name it as Coca-Cola Classic
. From that point on, Coca-Cola had to have two separate advertising campaigns for the two versions of Coke. The newer Coke carried the slogan “Catch the Wave”, which was meant to be more youthful and edgy, while Coca-Cola Classic emphasized the drink’s broad appeal and emotional attachment with the “Red White and You” Campaign which was created by a New York based agency, SSC&B Lintas.
For the ‘Catch the Wave” campaign, a computer animated character named Headroom was used. He became so popular that the call center in Atlanta was flooded for calls asking about Headroom button and posters. Because of his success he was featured in a few other commercials, even one with Michael Jordan.
THE GLOBAL BRAND
1988 saw the “Can’t Beat the Feeling” campaign that was launched in over 100 countries. This campaign aimed to show Coca-Cola as a part of everyone’s life, from family fun to first dates.
The 1990’s brought Coca-Cola advertising to a new level. the “Always Coca-Cola” campaign created 27 commercials to air around the world appealing to a diverse set of groups. This also lead to the Northern Lights
commercial featuring the cute and cuddly polar bears. The polar bear was a considerable success, and went on to star in six commercials for Coca-Cola, including two ads for the 1994 Olympic Games
in which it slid down a lug and soared off a ski jump. Bear cubs also made their debut for Coke in a holiday ad in which the bear family selects its Christmas tree.
Over the next seven years the “Always Coca-Cola” campaign continued to draw on themes of humor, music, and parody, among other things.
Internationally, Coke launched a commercial to target the Ramadan market. The commercial ran in twenty countries, and placed emphasis on love, charity, and forgiveness. Heavy research went into discovering these themes to make sure they were predominant in every country the ad was shown.
Because this initial effort was a success, Coke unrolled a new slogan “Coca-Cola. Enjoy” in 2000. The campaign was designed to appeal to people all over the world, be persuading them that Coke added a touch of magic to special moments in life. Here, the campaign used local resources in different countries to tailor the commercial to local culture. A melody was also used, 140 versions of it, in 40 languages to appeal to every type of Cola fan.
For over one hundred years Coca-Cola has made it’s impression on American society, and the advertising profession. It has continued to stay a step above normal advertising, and has always seemed to be able to ‘key its advertising to the mood of society’. It has made a name for its self throughout the world, and has made itself a staple of American culture that continues to grow through it’s ever evolving advertising campaigns.