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The History of Coca-Cola’s Marketing Strategy

Coca-Cola is one of the biggest beverage companies in the world. Founded in 1886 in Atlanta, The company celebrated its 136th anniversary this year. Since the first time they launched Coca-Cola to the market, the brand has made significant changes. These changes increased their selling quantities and affected their business positively. Here’s how it happened.

When the brand first started their business in 1886, Coca-Cola used free vouchers to catch people’s attention. Six years later, marketer Asa Candler purchased Coca-Cola from an inventor named Dr. John Pemberton with a total of $11,000 for advertising. He utilizes media such as calendars, wall signs, napkins, soda fountain urns, etc to promote Coca-Cola. The result is no joke. Coca-Cola reports that their drink is sold in every U.S. state, marking the start of their market saturation to the world.

In 1900, Coca-Cola started a “celebrity endorsing” strategy with a famous music hall performer, Hilda Clark. Since then, they have collaborated with several celebrities such as Arnold Palmer, The Supremes, Ray Charles, and Joan Crawford. This year became one of the biggest turning points for Coca-Cola as they multiplied ten-fold of their marketing revenue to $100,000. Three years later, the company purchased an advertisement in a national magazine and by 1911, their advertising budget had risen to $1,000,000. Nine years after their first magazine advertisement, Coca-Cola added billboards and radio sponsorships into their advertising strategy. One of the famous Coca-Cola campaigns is an illustration of St. Nicholas drinking Coca-Cola (1931).

Until then, the company has elevated their strategy by adding a television commercial in 1950’s Thanksgiving Day. In the same decade, the D’arcy Advertising Company, Coca-Cola’s official advertising agency, was replaced by McCann-Erickson Inc. This company then became Coca-Cola’s partner for more than 50 years, making a shift in their campaign strategy and added 33 percent of the company’s revenue. By the 1960s, Coca-Cola had begun to diversify their products by taking The Minute Maid Corporation and Sprite. They then launched the famous TV campaign “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” in 1971. This ad became their most popular commercial until now.

Another Coca-Cola’s unforgettable commercial was “Northern Lights” made in 1993 which also became the debut of their mascot, polar bear. The chief marketing and commercial officer of Coca-Cola, Joe Tripodi, mentioned that the company poured out up to $4,000,000,000 for their marketing budget in 2011. In the same year, they received the Marketing of the Year award by AdAge. Recently, the brand ranked sixth on the Forbes World’s Most Valuable BBrands in 2020. They manage to retain their existence, beating Pepsi behind at rank 36.


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