History of Coca-Cola and Their Advertising Campaign

Coca-Cola was first sold in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia and was the creation of John Styth Pemberton. Pemberton was the creator of patent medicines, and Coca-Cola was one of his experiments with the coca leaf and the cola nut. Pemberton unfortunately died at the age of 57 penniless, before Coca-Cola became popular. It was Pemberton who made the first Coke commercial, using the advertising slogan “Delicious, Refreshing, Exhilarating” which, compared to today’s short, snappy and easy to remember slogans, is primitive.

It was Asa Candler who made Coca-Cola the popular drink of today, after having bought Coca-Cola for a small price in 1888. He changed the recipe by removing the alcohol and cocaine and spent a record 20% revenue on advertising. Candler was one of the first people to make advertising pay off in a big way for their company. In a short space of time the drink was being sold and loved all over America. Asa Candler was one of the pioneers of large-scale advertising, which has brought Coke its great success. Coke slogans are much more sophisticated today, compared to the original commercials used by Candler and are usually very short to influence the audience straight away. “Coke is it”, 1982 and “Always”, 1993 are examples of new campaigns in which the audience are reminded that Coke is the original cola.
Today Coca-Cola is the most recognised brand in the world. Most of its success is based on over one hundred years of advertising and a very recognisable logo designed by Frank Robinson, Pemberton’s book keeper.

Robert Woodruff took over from Candler when he retired, and controlled Coke through the difficult years of the Second World War. Woodruff made sure that every allied soldier could have a Coke for 5 cents wherever they were and at whatever the cost to the company. The decision to maintain Coke supplies near the front line of the war would pay off when the war was over. Coke engineers went to North Africa where the allies were fighting, to set up several new factories to provide over three million bottles, ordered by General Dwight D Eisenhower. When the war was over these factories carried on producing, enabling Coca-Cola to access new markets. The allied troops other than Americans had also tasted Coke and had liked the taste so the demand for it was there from other nationalities. The war effort also created close links between Coke and the American government. President Eisenhower rewarded Coca-Cola’s input into the war by making Coke the official drink of the White House. This helped Coke, as the USA is now a symbol of wealth and freedom so to be associated with the government further reinforced Coke’s association with the USA. However, this association came with some drawbacks. Coke was banned in some anti-American states in the Middle East.

Despite helping in the Second World War Coke has moved with the times and has helped promote peace when the U.S sentiment suited this approach. It promotes peace in its commercials including the most successful Coke commercial in 1971, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”. This great commercial which featured young people of different races and nationalities united on a hillside in Italy to promote world peace when the Cold War and Vietnam War were at their height. The commercial also shows Coke as an international company that sells its drink to all countries and races. The commercial suggests that Coke links and unites these countries even when war is tearing them apart. In 1993 after some hostility in the Middle East, Coke was served in the Arab-Israeli peace talks.

Coke has sponsored the Olympic Games since 1928. This promotes Coke’s image across the world. The association with the Olympic Games makes Coke seem like a sporty drink that athletes prefer. This sporty association appeals to active people who participate in physical activity. This is a large market which Coke has conquered by Olympic Games sponsorship and advertising. There have only been one Olympic Games when Coke has not been a sponsor and that was when the Americans boycotted them in 1980. The official games Sponsor was Fanta, which is owned by Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola has used many slogans and phrases over the years but I will be concentrating on the “You Can’t Beat the Feeling”, 1989, advertising campaign. Each of the commercials in this campaign shows youthful people having a good time, having a Coke. The commercials share one common feature, a large Coca-Cola logo at the top of the commercial taking up roughly a quarter of the space used. The bright, comforting colours red and white combined with the instantly recognisable and unique Coca-Cola hand-written logo. The logo firstly attracts the attention of the audience and informs them that the picture below the commercial is advertising Coke. This makes the reader associate the great time the people in the commercial are having, with Coke.

The colours used in these commercials are predominantly red and white. This is used to remind us that it is a Coke commercial and to help the picture merge in with the Coke logo at the top. In each of the commercials someone is holding the distinctive curved Coke bottle with the label facing the audience. This is used to show us that the people in the commercial are not just drinking any cola but are drinking the original Coca-Cola. In most of the commercials the bottle is either in the middle of the commercial or at the top of it. This makes the bottle the centre of attention and links it firmly with having a good time.

“You Can’t Beat the Feeling” is used as the Coca-Cola slogan in commercials where the young people in them are having a great time. The slogan tells the audience that you can’t beat the feeling of having a great time with your friends and drinking a Coke. The slogan is not just saying that Coke makes a good time, but makes a good time even better.
The Diet Coke commercials are different to the usual Coke commercials because they need to appeal to a different audience. The commercial has the shape of a woman’s body mirrored to show the shape of the famous Coke bottle between them. The slogan and pun “Just for the Shape of it” is inside the Coke bottle shape. This slogan is similar to the normal Coke slogan “Just for the Taste of it” and it reminds us that it is a drink commercial and a dietary product. The slogan implies that this product will help you lose weight but Coca-Cola do not directly claim this. In reality the drink simply contains less sugar so may help prevent the drinker from putting on weight.

The woman is holding a Diet Coke can half way up the commercial on each side. This central position draws our attention to the Coke can and its logo. The woman in the commercial is wearing an expensive looking red dress and bracelet. These expensive products make Diet Coke seem glamorous, however the reader knows that Coke is priced so everyone can afford it. This gives the reverse effect that if you drink a Diet Coke you will become a glamorous and affluent person. The white Diet Coke can, positioned next to the woman’s red dress, creates the original Coke colours which reinforce to the reader that this is a Coca-Cola product. This commercial is obviously posed, unlike the other Coca-Cola commercials that have people in natural positions. The models on the majority of Coke commercials are doing normal things, having a good time with their friends. They do not give the appearance that they are part of a posed commercial. A technique used to give this impression is to have the models looking away from the camera. This gives the commercials a natural and un-posed look.

This commercial is predominately aimed at women as they have a greater tendency than men to diet and to be concerned about their weight. The glamorous woman with a very shapely body in the commercial is Diet Coke’s image and implies that women who drink Diet Coke will look like the model in the commercial. Young attractive women are usually associated with commercials, which will appeal to men. However this commercial has a woman who is not purposely standing in a sexy position and the commercial does not even contain the woman’s face.

Coca-Cola’s most recent campaign “Life Tastes Good” has a billboard commercial showing approximately one quarter of the Coca-Cola logo on a red background. The Coke advertiser’s know that the Coke logo and colours are so recognisable that they do not even have to show the whole logo. The commercial reminds us of Coke and delivers their new message, which is “Life Tastes Good”. This slogan is similar to many other Coke slogans like “You Can’t Beat the Feeling” because it associates having a Coke with having a good time. The slogan is saying that if you “taste” a Coke, life will be good.
Coke commercials are primarily filmed in the sun, in fun and exciting locations. Many are filmed in large cities such as New York. These locations are used because most people either live in or near a city so can relate to people in the commercials. Cities are also featured on TV and in films. This type of location is also very realistic and recognisable. We can understand why the people in the commercial are in the city as they might be shopping or working, but whatever they are doing, they are having a good time because of Coke.

There are other locations used in Coke commercials such as a relaxing setting by a river. This type of setting is used to inform the audience that Coke is not just for young busy people actively having a good time in a location like New York, but can be drunk by people who just want to relax and chill out. This type of commercial is used to show us how Coke can help make a great time even if you are on your own relaxing or reading a book. The people in these commercials do not appear lonely because their expressions tell us that they are enjoying the calm with their Coke. This type of commercial used the “Coke is it” slogan and implies that Coke makes the great time rather than helps it, as in the “You Can’t Beat the Feeling” campaign.

The Diet Coke commercial is quite different to the others as it was produced in a studio rather than a recognisable location. Special camera effects are used to mirror the woman’s body, which is also quite unusual. It is unusual because normal Coke commercials have ordinary people in natural positions drinking Coke. This commercial is more sophisticated because it appeals to a different target audience.

The young adults in Coke commercials make them appeal to many different audiences. Teenagers will relate to the commercials because the young adults are symbols of freedom and fun. This is attractive to teenagers, who will associate Coke with an age group and lifestyle that appeals to them. Older people will remember when they had fun and freedom in their early adulthood. This is Coke’s nostalgia effect because Coke is one of the few products that most people have tasted in their youth.

Coke also produces commercials that are aimed at a wider, more general audience. The billboard commercials for the “Life Tastes Good” campaign shows one half of the Coca-Cola logo on a red background. This illustrates the advertiser’s confidence in their audience’s ability to immediately recognise the Coca-Cola brand name.

Coca-Cola successfully sells their product by producing commercials for every category of audience. They can achieve this by placing commercials in magazines and newspapers targeted at the intended audience. Coca-Cola has been in existence and has commercialised for much longer than most other companies so is able to use the nostalgia value which helps sell a drink associated with youth to people of older generations. This is a big advantage for Coke because it means they can sell their drink to almost anyone. However, it is possible that this can have a negative effect, because young people don’t want to drink something old, so new up to date commercials need to be constantly produced.
Over many years, especially since World War Two, Coke has become a symbol of America and the American dream. We associate Coke with freedom, glamour and prosperity. This big association with America does encourage us to buy the product because America has long been the richest and most glamorous country in the world and is now the only remaining superpower. The association with the American dream encourages us to buy Coke because freedom and happiness are things that many people strive to achieve.

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