Lessons From Coca-Cola; Part 2

11.8.2019 - Summarized by Kaetlyn Bennett

J: Welcome everyone to this next episode of Straight Shot marketing podcast. We began in the previous episode of this series to discuss the origins of Coca-Cola. If you haven’t seen or heard that episode, please go back and watch/listen to it on YouTube, Patreon.com/straightshot, the straight shot marketing podcast app in your smartphone’s app store or wherever you find your favorite podcasts – iHeart Radio, Spotify, Apple Podcast, etc.


To summarize, we discussed the innovation of the original product and the steps taken to begin the journey towards commercial stardom in what is today Coca-Cola.  So, back to our story: Doc Pemberton died in August 1888, meaning he would never see the commercial success he had been seeking. At this time a man named Asa Griggs Candler, who liked the product, began buying shares of the company. By 1891, he was the company’s sole owner with $2300 invested in…money value was little different back then. It was when Candler took over that one of the most innovative marketing techniques was invented. He hired traveling salesmen to pass out coupons for a free Coke. His goal was for people to try the drink, like it, and buy it later on, Robinson had the practice of letting people try coke for free…that’s how Candler was converted into as fan. But Candler took it to as massive scale.


Z: So here we see the new owner expanding on the success of the past. He knew what converted potential customers into new customers. So, he decided to invest more into that process and really make it happen, as you said, on a broader scale.


J: In addition to the coupons, Candler also decided to spread the word of Coca-Cola by plastering logos on calendars, posters, notebooks and bookmarks to reach customers on an even larger stage. It was one step in making Coca-Cola a national brand, rather than just a regional brand.


Z: The idea here is to make people aware of the brand. By intersecting with their lives and making them aware of the company, they would be more likely to try to product when they came across it… and that was the goal. Because if they tried it, they knew the public would like it and become a customer.


J: Now, supporting the legend/rumor we discussed in the first episode of this series, that Doc Pemberton was developing headache medicine - Candler was selling Coca-Cola syrup as a patented medicine, claiming it would get rid of fatigue and headaches as a “nerve and brain tonic” In 1898, however, Congress passed a tax in the wake of the Spanish-American war on all medicines. So, Candler backed up and only wanted to be sold only as a beverage. After a court battle, Coca-Cola was no longer sold as a drug.


Z:  Again, we see here how the company was mindful of the economy and social conditions that would affect the business’s success. Keeping in touch with the world you play in is very important for the longevity of a company. Today, this can be accomplished in many ways, but social media is key. Social Media allows us to stay abreast of the news and gauging public opinion.


J: Now despite the companies protest, Coca-Cola did in fact have a negligible amount of cocaine in it. Even though Candler said he would shut down the Coca-Cola operation if the drink was found to be harmful, the drink did contain coca leaves. The syrup had one half-ounce of coca leaf per gallon, amounting to about a little over one-hundredth of a grain. To get technical, Candler always maintained that the drink naturally used coca leaves, which mixed different kinds of alkaloids, as opposed to the drug cocaine, which was a pure alkaloid. It actually took about 30 glasses to produce the actual dose of the drug.


Z: The cocaine content of Coca-Cola remained until 1903. It made the drink very controversial, but it also contributed to Coca-Cola's success. One of their early tag lines was “The Ideal Brain Tonic” ... which again, supports the legend/rumor.


J: So, let’s take a moment to hear from sponsors and when we return, we’ll get the Straight Shot from today’s second episode in the series on Coca-Cola.


Straight Shot (9:06)


J: So, a lot has changed for Coca-Cola in today’s episode. They’ve grown, changed management, and introduced marketing tactics that are still used today.


Z: Today’s marketing lessons from the Coca-Cola story include: #1) Think “out of the box” - Enticing customers with sample coupons had never been done. It was so successful that it is now a staple in food business communications. #2) Go big or go home – If you want to be successful, go for it. Coke’s marketing efforts took the company to the national level. Get your message out there, increase awareness, let people know about your business in as many ways as feasible. We develop a client specific Consumer Experience chart that outlines the process that new customers go through with the business. Here’s a generic version that speaks to most businesses but doesn’t include the specifics for a particular industry or marketplace. Just to give you an idea. When analyze each stage of the experience, we want to target as many touch points as the marketing budget can afford and add new ones as the company grows. #3) Course correction happens – if something about your marketing isn’t working, don’t be scared to adjust it. In coke’s case, they even had to course correct their product itself! It happens, what matters is how you handle it. Celebrate the good and correct the bad. Learn from the experience. Test – grow – test – grow. Another successful plan for business.


J: So, 3 more lessons today from the history of Coca-Cola. If you are enjoying this series, please hit the like button on YouTube or social media if you are watching there to let us know. On YouTube, you can click the bell to receive notifications of when new episodes are released. If you are listening on a podcast app, please leave us a review – to let us know how you feel about the shot. You can also connect with us on Instagram or Facebook. And on Patreon.com/straightshot – it takes a lot of work to put out this content for you guys. Please show your support on patreon. In return, we give our swag, early release of episodes, and bonus/exclusive content to our patrons. We just released a video there of our visit to the Harley Davidson museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as bonus content.


Z: Yes, and I am wearing the shirt that I wore that day to remind us to mention it. We did a series, like this one, on Harley Davidson. It was a three-part series; you can find it back in our archives to learn from another great brand. The Museum video continues with lessons from HD as a companion, bonus feature for you guys.


J: So, tune in for the next episode of Straight Shot marketing podcast where we continue in the Lessons From Coca-Cola series. There is sooo much to learn from Coca-Cola. I wish I could say they are a sponsor of this series, but they are not. Feel free to reach out to us Coca-Cola, we’d love to give some of our audience free Coke swag! Maybe you’d like to be a guest on our show, call us at 678.825.8086 ext 300.









Category Straight Shot Marketing Podcast


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