It is arguably the biggest brand and one of the most popular products in the world. How did this happen? Not just overnight, and it’s one of the most brilliant blends of science and marketing the world has ever seen. From kids just learning to speak, all the way up to the last of our greatest generation, we’re all familiar with this drink, its advertising jingles and its branding. Today, it would still be almost impossible to find anyone over the age of five or six that has not at least tried a Coke. It is easier to access a can of the world’s most famed soda than it is to find fresh, clean drinking water in large regions across the world. The Coca-Cola story is one that literally wrote itself. The story combines two major factors; the push to popularize it as something much greater and more influential than just a beverage and the lack of health-backed science due to the timing of its introduction. This was a product/brand that began to represent all that was good about America during the turmoil of World War II and it helped to unify this country. The second and more important piece of the puzzle of the rise of the king of cola was that we were decades away from realizing the actual dangers to our overall health. Sugar was in its heyday and we were years away from discovering the truth that in large quantities, it is poisonous and addictive. Sugar is, in fact, a drug. During the strategic push of Coke to the top, even if they knew, no one was going to admit that this blend of sugar and, “secret” ingredients would one day be compared to any other dangerous, addictive drug on the market.
The Coke story really started its popularity rise during a time of world unrest; sometime during the beginning of the Second World War. Not only was Coke seen as a product, it became a symbol of America. Coke was marketed as the essence of this country. It was wholesome and healthy. Ads depicted hardworking Americans at sunset, propped in a scene portraying another honest day of work finished. Sweat dripping off the brow of two men, smiling and holding that signature hourglass-shaped bottle either to their thirst quenched lips or as a cheers to another honest day on the job. The genius of the deep red logo and scripted text turned a brand into an entity that crossed the threshold from advertisement to decoration. People furnished their houses with tin signs, coolers and a number of other items featuring the Coke logo. It was marketing and advertising at its finest.
During a time when money was tight, Coke was still cheap. World War II was in the cross-hairs of every American and most around the world. Strategically, Coke somehow began its campaign to work its way into the stability of everyday life. One of the most tactical moves made was partnering with The United States Army, ensuring that Coke would be anywhere that American soldiers were stationed – anywhere in the world. An agreement was made that if Coca-Cola provided the product, the military would pay for its transportation and distribution to anyone overseas. As World War II finally came to a close with an Allied victory, Coke was literally seen as helping to play a role in the Allied effort to not only end the war but to win it. No doubt, the deal Coke made with the military to supply all those embedded in the war inked the deal for this simple soda to come out as a symbol of security, prosperity and a glorious future, not only for this country but the world.
After the victory for both The United States and Coca-Cola, there was no question who was now king of beverages. Thus began the company’s run at world domination as a household name across the world. While it is hard to argue some of this as a story with a happy ending, this was actually the beginning of the end. Coke was one of the first products to be globally distributed that would literally change the shape of the future and the waistlines around the world. Born out of innocence and American perseverance, Coke was now on track to change the health of the world for the worse. Join us as we continue this story and the physical ramifications that soda currently has for our health, and how it is quickly going from first to worst in the beverage industry.