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Coca-cola Image Maker Essay

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Coca-cola is the world’s most famous beverage and most likely the most recognized brand name. It can be purchased in more than 200 countries in wide range of restaurants, vending machines and stores. The manufacturer, Coca-cola Company has been the dominant head in advertising and marketing for more than hundred years with a whopping global sales of $20 billion in the year 2001. This carbonated drink is simply referred as coke.  Originally intended as a ‘patent medicine’ when it was invented in the late 19th century by pharmacist John S.

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Pemberton as a ‘coca wine’, Coca-Cola has dominated the worldwide soft drink market for decades now.

The Coca-Cola logo, like the product itself, is rated among the most recognized logos and brands in the world. The first Coca-Cola logo was created by John Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, in 1885. Thinking that the two Cs would look well in advertising, it was Robinson who came up with the name and chose the logo’s distinctive cursive script. The typeface used, known as Spencerian script, was developed in the mid 19th century and was the dominant form of formal handwriting in the United States during that period.

The red and white colored scheme in the Coca-Cola logo was kept simple and distinctive to lure young minds. Even the Coca-Cola bottle symbolized the ‘youthful exuberance of America’. Since then, various designs of the Coca-Cola bottle had been released over the decades. But the ever popular version is the famous 1915’s curved-vessel bottle called the “contour bottle”, better known to many as the “hobble skirt” bottle. Though mistakenly designed as cacao pod, the bottle like Coca-Cola logo has been highly popular and is often regarded as the best design ever (“Coca-cola” 1).

The coca-cola trademark was patented through the U.S. patent office in 1888.  Asa G. Candler, a businessman and a druggist in Atlanta who purchased the rights and formed it to a corporation “The Coca-cola Company”. The introduction of the new beverage into market was through free distribution of coupons for sample taste of Coca-cola. Along with the free glass of the soda were clocks, calendars, apothecary scales, posters and wall murals with coke logos which were utilized as promotional materials and the aggressive endorsement succeeded.  After a decade, businessman from Mississippi named Joseph Biedenharn was the first to put coca-cola in bottles.

A group of investors bought the Coca-Cola company for $25 million in the early 1900’s. The son of one of the investors, Robert Woodruff made a great leap in building the logo. Under his leadership, Coca-Cola went from a mostly American drink to the most consumed soft drink in the world.

Several successful marketing campaigns to build the logo involved sports: Coca-Cola was introduced to The Netherlands during the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, and the logo was featured on dog-racing sleds in Canada and on walls of bullfighting arenas in Spain. Woodruff was also responsible for introducing the “six-pack.” When Woodruff heard that some women in the United States would not purchase Coca-Cola six-packs because they did not have a bottle opener, he sent women door-to-door handing out and installing wall-mounted openers (“Coca-cola Company” 1).

Christmas is highly associated with a remarkable personality in white and red clothing with a grandfatherly look, Santa Claus. Coke impressively built a global image using Santa Claus invading our refrigerator, eating cookies and drinking a can of coke. The creator, Haddon Sundblom started placing illustrations of the coca-cola logo with the legendary Santa Claus during the Christmas of 1930’s. The people thought that coca-cola was just for warm weathers so; they came up with another promotion that would remind the consumers that the soda “Knows no season” and is an excellent choice every month. The said slogan along with the sensation of Santa Claus with a beverage was truly a symbol for winter.

The Coca-cola Santa appeared regularly in a magazine entitled The Saturday Evening Post in addition to National Geographic, The New Yorker, Ladies Home Journal and others. For 30 years, Coca-Cola advertising showed Santa delivering (and playing!) with toys, pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, playing with children who stayed up to greet him and raiding the refrigerators at a number of homes. The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coca-Cola advertising in magazines, store displays, billboards, posters, calendars and even plush dolls. Many of those items today are popular collectibles (“Coke Lore” 1).  The advertising success of Coca-Cola Santa Claus celebrated its 76th year last 2007.

The era of television advertising for Coca-cola fired up during the period of 1950’s. The D’Arcy Agency of St. Louis sponsored the initial television ad of coca-cola and produced along with a television special presenting Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. The beverage company and the agency owned by William D’Arcy strived to implement a marketing approach to meet consumer awareness. The application of television advertising was just a trial medium since television stations were not accessible to most cities.

The brilliant D’Arcy merged Coca-cola image into ads to performers in radio programs and television programs such as Walt Disney and The Adventures of Kit Carson. The sponsorship programs were a failure. It did not gain much awareness from the consumers (“Highlights” 1). The agency closed and the account of Coca-cola was handled by McCann. “The Sign of Good Taste” and “Be really refreshed” campaigns roared its way to success. Animation, live-action and stop motion were the advertising formats utilized in both campaigns which presented Connie Francis, Anita Bryant, the Brothers Four and McGuire Sisters as performers.

The triumph of television advertising spread for a decade and also incorporated the biggest artists in radio commercials such as Jay and the Americans, the Supremes, the Moody Blues, Jan and Dean, Roy Orbison, and Ray Charles. Presently, coke places sponsorship on famous television programs and contests, such as “American Idol”, where a giant red cup with Coke’s logo on it was placed on the tables of the Paula Abdul, Randy and Simon Cowell.

From television advertisements Coke walked its victory in advertising to films. The company tried building Coke’s image in the movies. The comedy movie “The Gods must be crazy” included a bottle of coke as its main props. Other popular films showcasing coke products were the award-winning science fiction movie E.T. directed by Steven Spielberg showing a refrigerator with coke and also The Paper, Silent Movie, The Mexican, Mean Girls, Maid in Manhattan and a hundred more.

Coca Cola advertising has chronicled times and events for more than a century. Favorite Coca Cola images have appeared on thousands of products over the years. Coca-cola continues to its image-making through the creation of collectibles. Products with the Coca Cola logo have become favorite antiques and collectibles for nostalgia collectors.

Advertising features rare and collectible original Coca Cola memorabilia from many decades – pre-1940’s 1950’s 1960’s 1970’s 1980’s 1990’s. Classic memorabilia pieces run the gambit from original signs to rare pins; signed artwork to retro trays of the past. Coke memorabilia is very collectible and very hard to find. Antique collectibles are all original licensed and manufactured for The Coca-Cola Companies and now it can not only be purchased in stores but also in websites as well (“Coca Cola” 1).

In the 1990’s, Coke made a dramatic change in its Christmas approach from Santa Claus to polar bears. The image-making of Coke in changing the traditional jolly figure of Santa Claus to cute and lovable polar bears was a big achievement. The animated production required the application of advanced computers and graphic programs. Rhythm and Hues together with creator Ken Stewart introduced polar bears as the new symbol of Coke during Christmas season. The “Northern Lights” commercial was a worldwide hit. The popularity of polar bears continued to be featured in six commercials including the animated animals in the 1994 Olympics.

Consumers of top beverage products were highly aware of the so-called “Cola Wars”. Pepsi the biggest competitor of Coca-cola, started the battle in early 70’s making its way in the Soviet Union. It also annexed with Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken. As a comeback, Coke broadcasted the return of Coke classic and merged with the movie E.T. releasing the propaganda “Mac and Me”, it was sponsored by the leading fast food chain, McDonalds. Then Coca-cola tried invading North Korea and England.

Coca-cola pursued to build its image to politics. Coke created an image as American patriotic drink however the Coca-cola company pushed its image to Germany particularly the Nazis during the war. The term “coca-colonization” was defined as cultural imperialism of Americans through using Coke as its symbol. In France, wine is considered the ultimate drink, and the country tried to ban the sales of coke for believing that this soft drink tried to alter their wine being the national beverage.

Coca-cola continued its image-making by placing itself in the middle of the Cold war. Presently this beverage giant was also a loyal advocate of Israel while Pepsi, its competitor is a steadfast follower of Arab League boycott of Israel. As a result, Coca-cola received an honor from Israel government last 1997 and was bestowed a property to be used as a manufacturing plant, though reports said that it was a stolen Palestinian land. The collaboration with Israel was quite a success since Coca-cola was able to increase its investment through purchasing 51 percent of share in the Tavor winery in Israel, furthering its ambition to have a holding in every sector of the beverages business (“Boycott” 1).

Presently, Coke is into mobile advertising. This beverage giant is one of the pioneer’s in utilizing mobile media in France. The company invested in creating a mobile Internet website and also launched the “Coke+iTunes operation. It is a contest available through the use of text messaging and using the website. It also continues to build its image through online advertising. The company created the website there.com. It is an entertainment interactive site where users can choose an avatar that can go to movie theaters, visit Coca-cola diner, shop and dance. Coke studios and mycoke.com are some of the website that coke uses to build its image.

Coca-Cola” is the most universally recognized word on earth after “OK,” and has come to symbolize the American way of life arguably more than any other product.  The Coca-Cola Company throughout its history has invested millions of dollars to perpetuate the drink’s image as a symbol of all things good, decent, and honest about America—a symbol of tradition, freedom, and democracy.  Coke is seen as more than a drink by its loyal fans. It brings on the nostalgia of better times, simpler times linking America to the rest of the world and looming as large as a symbol of the United States as the Statue of Liberty.

People may disagree about the reality of “coca-colonization” (the term given to describe American cultural imperialism) but what seems to be clear is that Coca-Cola is at the very least seen by many, and has been portrayed by the Company, as an American representative abroad, a symbol of all that is America. Coca-Cola has profited from its image, and was only able to create this image in the first place by entering politics; thus, to claim neutral, a political status to avoid responsibility.

Some might believe that such social and ethical responsibility is unrealistic for a company in the business of making money for its shareholders. Yet Coca-Cola has always portrayed itself as so much more than a company just out to make money—surely it owes some respect to this image, the image that enabled it to capture the public’s hearts and minds in the first place (Hutt, 1).

Works Cited

“Boycott Israel Campaign.” Inminds. 19 July 2002. Innovative minds. 5 May 2008 < http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-coca-cola.html>.

“Coca-cola Company.” Reference for business. 2007. Advarneg Inc. 10 May 2008 <http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/businesses/A-F/Coca-Cola-Company.html>.

“Coca-cola Logo.” Logoblog. 2008. Logo blog.org. 10 May 2008 <http://www.logoblog.org/about_us.php>.

“Coca Cola Memorabilia.” 2collectcola. 1 January 2006. Always collectors corner. 5 May 2008 < http://www.2collectcola.com/page/ACC/CTGY/M>.

“Coke in the movies.” The Coca-cola Company. 31 December 2006. The Coca-cola Company Press center. 6 May 2008 < http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/heritage/cokelore_inthemovies.html>.

“Coke Lore.” The Coca-cola Company. 31 December 2006. The Coca-cola Company Press center. 6 May 2008 <http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/heritage/cokelore_santa.html>.

“Highlights in the history of Coca-cola Television advertising.”  American Memory. 29 November 2000. The library of Congress. 6 May 2008 <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ccmphtml/colahist.html#darcy>.

Hutt, Peter. “The Image and Politics of Coca-Cola: From the Early Years to the Present.” Leda law. 16 April 2001. Harvard law school. 6 May 2008 < http://leda.law.harvard.edu/leda/data/398/AlOthman.html>.

Pendergrast, Mark. For God, Country & Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Popular Soft Drink 8. Orion Business Books, 2000.

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