Research shows that The Coca Cola Company has become a prominent corporation, with branches in over two hundred countries. An analysis has been conducted to identify the elements that have made this company
successful. The findings vary from the approach of its employees to the cultural issues, to the company’s marketing strategies. The myths that have surrounded Coca Cola through the decades will also be explored with the intention of finding the impact they have had in the company’s growth.
The Coca-Cola Company and its Myths
Coca Cola products can be found practically anywhere in the world, such as on the tables of people in Tanzania, one of the poorest countries, and on the tables of the wealthiest people in the United States, where the company was founded. The success of this worldwide organization can be attributed to more than just its flavorful beverages. The following elaborates on the company’s mission, product line, organizational structure, and its marketing strategies. A brief overview of some of the myths that have surrounded Coca Cola will also be helpful in finding out how a backyard operation evolved into a multi-million dollar business.
Coca Cola has been linked to American culture for many years. John Pemberton, who invented the formula in his own back yard, founded Coca Cola in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia. The first serving of Coca Cola was sold at a pharmacy in Georgia on May 8, 1886. This company has since grown into a multi-million dollar industry, in large part due to their mission and goals. One of the major strengths of Coca Cola is their capability to conduct business on an international scale while sustaining a local approach. To date, this company now produces nearly 400 brands, expanding to over 200 countries worldwide. Coca Cola’s vision involved adapting and evolving to the business conditions of each day. They also embodied employees who upheld strong ideals, commitment, and integrity. The Coca Cola Company believes that there are many experiences in the world and in life to rejoice, enliven, reinforce, and care for (Coca Cola, 2004). One of the missions of the Coca Cola Company is to develop a higher quality of life in communities. They are greatly involved in methods and programs, which promote improving individual opportunity through education. Programs that they support and contribute to include: scholarships for aspiring students, encouragement to young people of the importance of staying in schools, and the development of cultural understanding and appreciation (Coca Cola, 2004).
Organizational Structure and Targeted Consumers
The Coca-Cola Company exists to benefit and refresh everyone it touches. The company is the world’s leading manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of nonalcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups, used to produce nearly four hundred beverage brands. The corporate headquarters are in Atlanta, with local operations in over two hundred countries around the world. (www.2cocla-cola.com)
The basic proposition of the business is solid and timeless. When bringing the refreshment, value, joy and fun to the stakeholders, then they successfully nurture and protect the brands, particularly Coca-Cola. That is the key to fulfilling the ultimate obligation to provide consistently attractive returns to the business owners. The company is committed to manage business with a consistent set of values that represent the highest standard of quality, integrity and excellence. Through actions as local citizens, they strive everyday to refresh the market place, enrich the work place, protect the environment, and strengthen the communities (www.2cocla-cola.com). The company’s target is to reach everyone’s home, from young children to the older public. It is the most recognized trademark in the world. The reputation of the Coca-Cola Company is built on trust. They seek to develop relationships with suppliers and share familiar values and conduct business in an ethical manner (Leith, S. 2002).
Marketing and Advertisement Strategies
When it comes to marketing, “The objective of Coca-Cola’s advertisements is to strategically position their product in people’s minds in order to maximize its acceptance. This strategy would in some way or another have a correlation to the changing social values of the period. Trying to keep step with each generation and era has been an important factor in advertising for Coke.” (http://www.oppapers.com) The marketing view must penetrate all other views to make a firm successful in the marketplace.
Marketing forecasts and plans are multi-factor calculations and predictions, where holistic approaches are needed. Coke uses careful marketing research to discover the trends and desires of target markets, creates products to meet those needs, and then plans ad campaigns to lure in the targeted market segments. It would be ideal if the information gleaned through this process was exclusive, but eventually other soft drink companies pick up on Coke’s trends and try to use it to their advantage as well, at which time Coca-Cola starts the process over. The format in which the information is delivered to decision makers is not as important as the way they then use the information in the effort to win or keep customers.
An example of Coca-Cola’s use of marketing is evident in the new advertising campaign, which the company believes, “reflects genuine, authentic moments in life and the natural role the brand plays in them.” Chris Lowe, North America’s Coca-Cola chief marketing officer explained that, “consumers today are telling us they want brands that are genuine, authentic and real and these are values they associate more strongly with Coca-Cola than any other brand. Authenticity, originality and ‘real’ refreshment are part of our heritage, and what the brand has always stood for.” (Coca-Cola Website) “Coca-Cola’s goal is to make their costumers think of their product and this commercial whenever they are reminded of a sentimental and enjoyable event” (www.louisville.edu/~rljohn10/pepsi.html).
It will be inevitable for The Coca Cola Company to reach a global market without having myths associated with its name. The most widely known myth about Coca Cola is that it contained extract of coca leaves. In fact in 1886, when it was introduced in the market, it did. Exactly how much cocaine was in the formula itself has not been determined, but Coca-Cola did contain some cocaine when it was first developed. What researches do know is that in 1902, 1/400 of a grain of cocaine per ounce of syrup was in the drink. Apparently in 1929, Coca-Cola became cocaine free. “By Heath’s calculation, the amount of ecgonine [an alkaloid in the coca leaf that could be synthesized to create cocaine] was infinitesimal: no more than one part in 50 million. In an entire year’s supply of 25-odd million gallons of Coca-Cola syrup, Heath figured, there might be six-hundredths of an ounce of cocaine. So, yes, at one time there was cocaine in Coca-Cola.” (Mikkelson, B. http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/cocaine.asp)
Ethylene Glycol Myth
Another myth basically states that Cola-Cola used ethylene glycol in their soft drinks. People have apparently confused ethylene glycol with polyethylene. Ethylene glycol is a compound that is used to make antifreeze and de-icing solutions for cars, airplanes, and boats; to make polyester compounds; and as solvents in the paint and plastics industries. Polyethylene glycol is non-toxic and is used in a variety of products. In fact, it is the basis of a number of laxatives (e.g. macrogol-containing products such as Movicol®). As far as Coca-Cola is concerned, polyethylene glycol is not an added ingredient in soft drinks. However, polyethylene glycol is safe and suitable for use in foods and beverages, according to the U.S. FDA and other Regulatory authorities. (Coca-Cola Website. Source: http://www2.coca-cola.com/contactus/myths_rumors/ingredients_antifreeze.html)
One of the myths that were discussed back in the 1980’s was the Coca Cola an advertising poster due to a risqué image hidden within. The poster was released in the mid 80s and provoked a total argument because of the picture painted in ice-cubes, a woman performing a bad action. The graphic artist who designed the picture put this as a joke and it went unnoticed. This artist lost his job and was sued for a lot of money. All the posters and advertisement was destroyed and new ones and to be made. The poster shows a cartoon version of a coke bottle sitting on a bed of ice under the words “Feel the Curves”. The president of the Australian Marketing Rep, Coca-Cola South Pacific, Mr. Mike Bascle said the action of the artist was “quite irresponsible and not amusing”. The company had lost millions of dollars in revenue as a result of this careless pornographic advertisement, but later recreated new glossy posters (“The Adelaide Advertiser”) http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/poster.aspp)
Santa Claus Myth
The likeness of Santa Claus has, for many years, been attributed to the image that Coca Cola embodies during their holiday advertisements. Myths have implied that Coca Cola created the representation of Santa Claus being in a red and white suit as a marketing ploy to promote sales. In actuality, the real history of Santa Claus predates Coca Cola’s introduction of him during the 1930’s. The earliest records of Santa Claus reflect that he was actually an evolutionary invention resulting from two religious people, St. Nichols and Christkindlein (Snopes, 2001). St. Nichols was a patron saint known for bearing gifts. Adults who clothed themselves in furry attire and visited children while they were awake to put on a scary performance represented Christkindlein. Once the children awoke, they found gifts and believed Christkindlein left them; hence the story behind Santa Claus involving his attire and gift giving beliefs. Coca Cola however, capitalized on the belief of Santa Claus. In 1930, the Coca Cola Company was looking for a way to encourage sales during the winter months, which was normally a slow sales period for the soft drink market. Haddon Sundblom, a cartoonist, was contacted to create a marketable image on behalf of the company (Snopes, 2001). After much deliberation, he invented a vision of Santa Claus wearing a red and white suit, drinking and enjoying coca cola. The success of this invention was enormous and his ingenious creation was just the marketing ploy Coca Cola needed to catapult their sales during this slow season.
The Coca Cola Company has come a long way from selling a few servings of carbonated beverages in a pharmacy, to an international scale business. The company has accomplished that objective thanks to dedicated people who have collaborated through the years with the mission to attain high quality standards. Their product line has grown with the approach of cultural appreciation and understanding, which has been a key factor in the introduction of the products in over 200 countries. Coca Cola’s commitment to remain at the forefront of the changing social values in developing their marketing strategy has proven to their advantage. The negative myths that have targeted Coca Cola might have had a harmful impact on the sales at the time of their circulation. On the other hand, the creative idea of dressing Santa Claus in the company’s red and white colors proves that some myths can be very beneficial to a corporation. Undoubtedly The Coca Cola Company has developed all the elements necessary to run a multi-million, worldwide enterprise and refreshes all the people that come in contact with their products.
A Tale of Two Colas: The Cola Wars, Retrieved September 08, 2004 from:
And the Cola Wars Continue, Retrieved September 08, 2004 from:
Bellis, M. (2004) The History of Coca Cola, From About.com Website Retrieved
September 09, 2004 from:
Coca-Cola Website. Retrieved September 08,2004 www.cocacola.com
Inventors Website. Retrieved September 08, 2004. From
Leith, S. ( July, 2002)“Coke Website Debunks Myths” retrieved info from Apollo Library
Infotrac Onefile/Knight Tribune Business News on September 8, 2004
Snopes Website. Retrieved September 08, 2004. From http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/