Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Coca-Cola: The Accidental Marketing Genius

Coke was already a (the?) giant in the soft drink game when RC Cola apparently beat them to the punch. In 1964 it was RC Cola, not Coke, not Pepsi, that became the first soft drink to be offered in all-aluminum cans. But Coke would strike back. The easy move to offer their product in a similar container was a no-brainer. But Coke went a step further when their marketing department had research that showed that symmetry was aesthetically pleasing to the human eye. The Greeks had used this principle thousands of years ago in their architecture. The end result was 12 12oz cans which would become known as the 12-pack.

Unfortunately for Coke this was not symmetrical but rather repetition. At the time repetition was a fairly new, unknown, and risky play in the marketing game. Coke, a solid company that just needed to retain market share, had inadvertently made a huge gamble. Pepsi executives rejoiced as they thought this would lead the Coke Empire to crumble. At the very least Pepsi expected to take over as the market leader. But this didn’t happen, instead the 12-packs flew off the shelves.

The American Marketing Association (AMA) took note. Never before had a large company taken “such an incredible risk….with almost nothing to gain.” Coke went on to become a household name in households that came into existence after 1964 and remained a household name in existing ones. The AMA thanked Coke for the research that they had inadvertently conducted by donating one million dollars towards the marketing budget. That money allowed Coke to get the word out on a little-known brand named Sprite. It was Coke’s answer to 7-Up.

As we know the Sprite experiment also went well for Coke. Afterwards it was decided that Coke should quit while they were ahead. They have made no major moves to reposition themselves since the late 1960’s. Coke certainly has not had any snafus (major or minor) in recent memory.

1 comment:

Troy said...

Yea "New Coke" wasn't a snafu at all! Well nothing could be worse than "Crystal Clear Pepsi" IDIOTS!