Faces of Coca-Cola

Posted on Apr 11, 2014

The Coca-Cola Company (Slideshare) has a long lasting history with the American people and Herbert Allen. For well over a century people have been drinking Coke, and in time Coca-Cola became a part of the American Dream. With humble beginnings as far back as 1886 Coca-Cola’s revolutionary syrup formula would have a profound impact on the American people for decades to come. The man who made this all possible was named Asa Griggs Candler. Candler bought the rights to Coca-Cola from its creator John Pemberton and pioneered an aggressive marketing plan that later made Coca-Cola a family name. This began with Candler’s particular flair for merchandising.

When Candler finally obtained the rights to Coca-Cola he knew that in order to sell his product he needed to spread his product name around. He began by handing out free drink coupons and continued with a massive production of souvenir fans, calendars, clocks, and all types of novelty items. With Coca-Cola showing up all over the United States Candler’s marketing strategy paid off in a big way. This huge growth in demand for Coca-Cola led to the innovation of the bottling system by Benjamin Thomas, Joseph Whitehead, and John Lupton. They obtained a contract with Coca-Cola which made them the exclusive bottlers of Coke. This bottling system quickly took off for Coca-Cola, allowing for better distribution and for people to take Coke home with them. It even lead to the development of Coca-Cola’s distinctive glass bottle shape. By 1895 Candler touted that Coke was drunk in every single state and territory in the United States. Candler’s aggressive product marketing had effectively changed the game, and Coke was already seeping into the American experience and becoming a household name.

In 1923 a new leader, Robert Woodruff, took charge of the Coca-Cola Company, and his business strategies essentially made Coke what we know today. Woodruff endeavored to implement quality standards to Coca-Cola’s bottling and service systems. Woodruff wanted to make sure that every bottle and every glass of Coke around America was made and served with care and quality in mind. During this time Coca-Cola pioneered the six-bottle carton which allowed the American people to take Coke home to their families in bulk for the first time. In 1929 coolers made it possible for retail stores to keep chilled, bottled Coca-Cola on hand. However, Woodruff’s most important contribution to the Coca-Cola Company was his drive for international expansion. In 1928 Coke gained global momentum by becoming the first commercial supporter of the Olympic Games. This connection with the Olympics would eventually bring Coca-Cola to all corners of the globe.

While Woodruff was marketing to the international community, Haddon Sundblom was creating an image for Coca-Cola that would solidify its place in every American heart. In 1931 Sundblom introduced the modern image of Santa with Coca-Cola in hand. Before this Santa Claus had many different depictions, but Sundblom masterfully drew a jolly, rotund old man with a red suit and rosy cheeks that would become our modern image of Saint Nick. This friendly version of Santa combined with Coca-Cola advertising turned Coke into an anytime beverage, rather than just a warm weather drink. Sondblom later went on to create the Quaker Oats man and is recognized as a fore-runner in the Great American pin-up era. Through his pairing of Santa Claus and Coke, the Coca-Cola Company transcended mere marketing schemes and lodged itself deeply into the American psyche. This led to the later creation of Coke’s famous polar bears and linked Coca-Cola forever to feelings of holiday joy, nostalgia, and eventually led to their modern motto: “Open happiness.”

Since Candler’s day many others have followed and become a part of Coca-Cola’s long legacy of pioneering business strategy. With celebrity endorser’s like Bill Cosby, Marilynn Monroe, Cal Ripkin, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Kwan, and Bill Gates the Coca Cola Company has always tried to connect with and become a part of popular culture. Warren Buffet, a current shareholder at Coca-Cola, once sold bottles of Coke out of his grandfather’s store in Omaha. He went on to create the Berkshire Hathaway Company, one of the largest investing entities in the U.S., and invested in General Motors, Goldman Sach’s, and even GEICO. Previous presidential candidate Herman Cain even worked for Coca-Cola for a time. He went on to work with Pillsbury and Burger King eventually becoming CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. Coca-Cola’s current CEO, Muhtar Kent, actually worked his way up through the company from the very bottom, starting as a Coca-Cola truck driver in Turkey. Coke has drawn so many celebrities into their marketing it would be entirely too many to mention them all. Though without a doubt the many faces associated with Coca-Cola have transformed this simple syrup beverage into a true symbol of American Dream.