Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for New Coke

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge. My theme is the 80s. Today's letter is:




The history of Coca-Cola takes us all the way back to 1863, when an entrepreneur invented Coca Wine. The beverage combined wine with cocaine.


An Atlanta pharmacist began serving a beverage based on Coca Wine. In 1886, Prohibition required him to replace the wine in his drink with a syrup that later evolved to what we now know as Coca Cola.


While the formula for Coca-Cola has changed slightly over the years (especially when cocaine was prohibited in 1914), customers have grown to expect a certain taste. So imagine the surprise in 1985 when this product was introduced:


The goal was to make it more competitive by giving the product a new taste. The product was in a major slump, with its market share having dropped to 24 percent, largely due to competition from Pepsi.


In blind taste tests, New Coke overwhelmingly beat both Coke and Pepsi. Customers said they loved the sweet taste but when asked if they'd drink it if it replaced Coca-Cola, most said they would, but it would take time to get used to it. A small percentage said replacing Coke would make them angry.


Coke proceeded...and people were angry. Not just "don't buy it" angry, either. A small but very vocal group of people with a lot of free time staged boycotts against the company.


Customers flooded the company's 1-800 lines, reportedly showing the same amount of grief they'd express at the loss of a family member. Coke switched back, spinning the whole mess into a campaign stating that now they're giving Americans more choice than ever. (Classic Coke or New Coke.)



To this day, some speculate that the entire thing was just a marketing ploy to bring Coke loyalists back.


What do you think? Was New Coke just a marketing ploy?

74 comments:

  1. I think it was a marketing ploy. It got the product a ton of attention and they got to add the word classic to the label.
    I remember taking the Pepsi Challenge. I could always tell the difference and always picked regular Coke.

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    1. Yeah, talking to my husband, I realized I might not have been clear enough that their sales were at 24% before New Coke--but when they released Classic Coke, sales skyrocketed. I left that last part out! Although my husband pointed out that if they just wanted a marketing ploy, they probably wouldn't have done all those taste tests and market studies before releasing New Coke.

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  2. I just liked Dr Pepper!

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    1. I'm a Pepper, he's a Pepper, she's a Pepper...

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  3. I remember people started hoarding the old Coke like crazy. Personally, I've always been an RC fan.

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    1. Ha! I don't remember people hoarding it. That's hilarious!

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  4. I'm mildly shocked that someone would even give their children coke, let alone go protest in the streets... If something can be used to clean toilets it sure ain't good for your tummy....

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    1. We weren't allowed to drink Coke when I was a kid--but as a teen, what's a parent going to do? We even had soda vending machines in our school. My diet as a teen was soda and fast food!

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  5. Coke messed up big time when they made that change.

    I've always been a Tab person!

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    1. The only soda I'll drink is Diet Dr. Pepper. Unless I'm in a restaurant...if it's a fast food/fast casual restaurant I always put a little Dr. Pepper in with my Diet Coke to make it taste sweeter!

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  6. My Mom was a coke fan and she hated the change. I've always preferred Dr. Pepper, it was often my lunch in high school with a bag of peanuts poured in it... and I don't like any of the wannabe substitutes either.

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    1. Peanuts in Dr. Pepper? Why does that sound familiar?

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    2. We had a "Coke" room with a soft drink vending machine as well as a snack one in my high school in the 50's and if that's where the boys were hanging out for lunch instead of the cafeteria that's where us girls were.... immolating the jocks. :)

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    3. My stepdaughter says in her high school, they have a machine with diet sodas. No other sodas, just diet. They were told it's because they can't have sugar because of regulations...but diet is okay. So she's now discovered how yummy Diet Dr. Pepper is. If the world is anti-diet soda, perhaps we shouldn't be introducing our teens to it?

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  7. I don't even remember it. We never had coke except at birthday parties and often we had the supermarket own brand even then. I fell as if I missed out.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. I know--I think the year the whole Coke incident happened, I was probably drinking one soda year or something. I don't remember drinking soda until I got my first job at 16 and they let us drink all the soda we wanted for free while we were working.

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  8. I remember the whole New Coke thing and it is weird because if they wanted to change the formula to something tastier why not just do it without all the hoopla of changing the name? People probably wouldn't have even noticed, so in that way I think it was a marketing ploy for attention. I've always loved Diet Coke or Tab (also a Coke product) when I can get it. People make fun of me for drinking Tab, saying their mom or grandma always drank it. Well, yes, I'm that old haha! I think the history of Coke is fascinating. Can you imagine combining wine and cocaine??? And then taking out the wine and leaving the cocaine? Wonder what it tasted like back then, and I can imagine what kind of a buzz it gave! The wine to relax, the cocaine for energy, like taking uppers and downers in one crazy drink. Only I imagine it was very small bottles and only taken for medicinal reasons!

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    1. Good point...although from what I remember, the taste was very different? I remember saying I didn't like it, but like you said, it was probably the psychology of knowing that it was different. If no one had told me it was New Coke, I wouldn't have thought anything of it.

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  9. Sounds like one big marketing ploy indeed. I'd never put that crap in me though. No need to rot my insides.

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    1. Yes, I think Coke makes most of its money these days from bottled water.

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  10. I vaguely remember the new Coke thing. I was more of a Dr. Pepper fan when I drank soda. I love that ad from the 1800s. Weary from shopping, LOL.

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    1. And ads back then were EXTREMELY hard to read! They didn't have to worry about catching the reader's attention, I guess.

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  11. It was certainly a marketing ploy, but it was kind of a weird one. Back then I preferred Pepsi because it was sweeter. The New Coke campaign didn't convert me. Over the years though I began to prefer Coke and now that's mostly what I drink. I never noticed the difference between original Coke and New Coke.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I still prefer Pepsi because it's sweeter, but not many places serve Pepsi products anymore. Just the places they used to own (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, etc.).

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  12. it was quite the hullabaloo. :) if i drank a soda, it was a diet coke. can't stand pepsi - tastes like soap to me. :)

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    1. I love Diet Pepsi. I'll drink Diet Coke but I would prefer something sweeter.

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  13. I remember that fiasco! Interesting twist, if it was truly Coke's intention. I actually like Pepsi better:)

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    1. Me, too, but we appear to be in the minority on that.

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  14. I think is was a brilliant marketing ploy. No way anyone could have preferred New coke to the classic, it was more watery. Meanwhile it turns out soda is basically slow poison, as bad for your health as smoking and other drugs. It will someday be heavily taxed like other destructive addictive products.

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    1. I don't even remember how it tasted. I think I tried it once. But even though sentiment is VERY anti-soda now, in the 80s people loved their Cokes, so I had to make it a part of my 80s nostalgia.

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  15. I've not a clue. I've never liked Coke. I'm a Pepsi girl all the way. So anything Coke did I just didn't notice. None of these drinks are good for you and I only have about a half bottle a week. Too bad because I so enjoyed my Pepsi.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I do have sodas occasionally but I LOVE those little water enhancers. Mio type? Not Mio, though...the ones by Dasani and other brands. Mio's flavors are kinda dull.

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  16. I took the Pepsi Challenge in a mall. I chose Pepsi. I remember New Coke. What an uproar. I have read about the original cocaine recipe many times, and have also read that it isn't true. WAS there cocaine in coke? I think I'll ask snopes.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. It's true! The cocaine was there to protect the trademarked coke recipe. No one is sure how much cocaine was used.

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    2. Yeah, while I was researching this, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the history of Coca-Cola...but I had to summarize, so a lot of it got left out, unfortunately. It's VERY interesting, but not very brief!

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  17. I don't know why my comments keep repeating themselves. They are like bunnies, reproducing.

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    1. I got them all! There's someone who always posts twice here. I think the system hiccups when she's here!

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  18. New Coke? Always called it coke.

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    1. You're young! There was Coke up until the mid-80s. Then they introduced New Coke with the intention of phasing out the old Coke and making New Coke the standard. But the backlash resulted in two Cokes: New Coke and Classic Coke. Over time, they did away with New Coke for a while but for a long, long time, Coke still had the word Classic on the can. I believe I read in my research that they've phased out the "Classic" in recent years and now just call it Coke. Maybe they should introduce New Coke just to let younger people taste it! Although with everyone thinking soda is the equivalent of Crystal Meth, that probably won't happen.

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  19. Oh yes, all about marketing. I mean, really, they are the marketing kings of the world. Who would believe otherwise? I don't drink any soft drinks so don't know what the change in taste is like... Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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    1. Interestingly, I remember the Coca-Cola shirts everyone's wearing in that commercial. It seems the company released all of that Coca-Cola wear around the time it did its New Coke nonsense? Maybe right after, to highlight everyone's renewed excitement about the company. The funniest thing was that we all willingly wore that stuff!

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  20. I grew up drinking Pepsi and hating Coke. Then one day my tastes reversed. Not sure why. But I'm a coke lover and Pepsi, not so much.

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Cohost
    N is for Numerology

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    1. That's interesting! I didn't really drink either growing up but during my teenage years, I developed a love for Mountain Dew. Then I tried Diet Dr. Pepper to lose weight and after that, Mountain Dew tasted like pure sugar to me. I still can't drink it.

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  21. I have not had coca cola since the late '80's. I was addicted to it but it was part of my undoing (I am hypoglycemic). I remember this New Coke thing and thought they were nuts. I wonder who the person was who "Invented" this-did he get fired or did he get a promotion. That may answer the marketing ploy

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    1. Oh no. Hypoglycemia is a tough one! I remember reading once that Sela Ward was PR manager for either Coke or Pepsi back in the day...she was fired when someone spotted the rival's bottle in her car, which I thought was a bit extreme. It could have belonged to one of her friends.

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  22. It's highly possible it was a marketing ploy. Since I seldom drink Coke, I was unaffected. Thank goodness something didn't affect me. :-)

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    1. LOL, it didn't really affect me either other than being an interesting story on the news at the time.

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  23. I like those weird offshoots that come out from time to time then disappear - like Crystal Pepsi (the clear cola!) and Vanilla Coke. Why don't they stick around?

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    1. I have to say, those machines where you can pick your flavor of Coke are the bomb! I LOVE those things. Freestyle, I think they're called? You can have vanilla Coke, orange Coke, raspberry Coke, etc... And the flavors of lemonade are even better.

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  24. We don't have a huge selection of coke easily available in the UK (and I don't remember New Coke wars) - I have to say I'm rather fond of Coke Life.
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
    FB3X
    Wittegen Press

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  25. I drank Coke or Pepsi when I was young but gave up drink it either many, many years ago. I never regretted it.
    Interesting facts.
    Have a NICE day.
    Hugs,
    JB

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  26. My husband told me about it's origins, that's so crazy! Who would've believed that it's a now an American staple?!

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  27. Probably just a marketing ploy. I wouldn't doubt it a bit.

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  28. I had forgotten about New Coke. I do recall not liking it, though.

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  29. Dezmond nailed it for me. We were only given water (and occasionally cordial) as a child. Which I resented. But I never acquired the Coke (or anything else) taste. For which I am now grateful.

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  30. I remember liking New Coke, but I was a die hard Pepsi/Mt. Dew kids so Coke could have tasted like cotton candy for all I knew!

    --
    Tim Brannan, The Other Side Blog
    2015 A to Z of Vampires
    http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/

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  31. Very Interesting. Although, I'm not a coke person, but plenty people are.

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  32. I wouldn't put it past them.

    Great post! Made me laugh. Funny what some people get worked up about. Those protest signs are hilarious.

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  33. it probably was, I'm more a Dr. Pepper person

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  34. I don't really remember this, but it certainly smells like a marketing ploy to me! :)

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  35. Interesting. Since I was drinking Pepsi it didn't hit my radar.

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  36. I was absolutely a Pepsi fan back then but I tried New Coke. Yuk!

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  37. Definitely a marketing ploy! I use to drink coke, but now I don't drink soda at all. Comparing coke to pepsi is like comparing Bud Light to Coors Light. Distinctly different!

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  38. The "Our children will never know refreshment" sign totally cracks me up. What drama.
    I didn't at the time but now I think it was a marketing ploy.

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  39. I thought people went a little too far over a pop drink... back in the day I drank coke, now I don't drink an ounce of pop either way... xox

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  40. Interesting story. I didn't know this. I used to love cokes then went to diet cokes and now drink only tea and coffee.

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  41. I don't think it was a marketing ploy. Just a blunder. Of course, this was about the time I went off soda entirely, so I don't think I ever tried it.

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  42. Interesting thought; it could have been a marketing ploy. Anything to keep its name out there like this certainly seems suspect for such a thing. At the time I preferred Diet Coke over Diet Pepsi :) Now I've weaned off all soda :)

    betty

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  43. I had diet coke once or twice and it really wasn't spectacular (perhaps a glass of water would have been better). It was an attempt to reach people who wanted Coke and a healthier lifestyle but didn't succeed.

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  44. I'm not sure if it was a ploy, but I hated New Coke.

    Yvonne

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  45. I bet Coke Wine tasted as awful as New Coke. I hated that stuff.

    Scribbles From Jenn - Visiting from the A to Z Challenge

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  46. I don't know if it was a ploy or not, but everyone I know despised New Coke. I think I started drinking Diet Coke in the 80's so I don't remember hating New Coke, because I didn't drink it enough to know or care. I cannot stand the taste of Pepsi. I've been drinking Diet Coke for so long that I much prefer it over Coke. I've always heard that Coke once had cocaine in it, but I never really believed it. So it is true. I bet people back then really became addicted to the beverage.

    You won a gift card over on my blog. Please email me at sugarlaw13@live.com with the email address that you want your $25 Amazon gift card sent to. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  47. "...a lot of free time..." I use that line all the time. :)

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  48. I'd believe it was just a marketing ploy. You never know.

    Coke is my favorite pop. I don't remember New Coke though, or if I liked it or not.

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