Coke's Century-Plus of Success
On May 8th, 1886, pharmacist John S. Pemberton served his first Coca-Cola in Atlanta. One hundred and twenty-five years later it has become one of the world’s most widely known brands. To celebrate the momentous anniversary this summer, Coca-Cola markets around the world are launching commemorative bottle and can designs.
The United States released an 8oz contour bottle that has “125 years” label panels with bubbles bursting from the bottle. They also introduced a new 1.25L bottle rendered in the brand’s classic contour shape. In Europe, Coca-Cola fans will find replicas of four original glass bottle designs, in addition to 12oz cans that feature illustrations of iconic World War II era pin-ups. Across Asia, Taiwan is distributing three bottles-one designed by popular singer A-Mei; Hong Kong is selling cans with illustrations from famed British graphic artist James Jarvis; and Korea will sell 10,000 six-packs of 250ml bottles with “125 years” graphics. Latin America is also getting in on the celebration. Colombia and Mexico are distributing limited-edition bottles showcasing images of the many ways people enjoy Coca-Cola (e.g., playing soccer, listening to music, etc.)
The commemorative designs pay homage to the important role packaging has played in the brand’s global success, but they also demonstrate how dramatically Coca-Cola packaging has evolved over the years. The earliest bottle, the Hutchinson, dates back to 1899 and featured “Coca-Cola” embossed in block letters or script. In 1907, the company developed a crown-cap, straight-sided bottle, complete with diamond-shaped paper labels. Finally, in 1916, Coca-Cola introduced its famous contour bottle-the result of a challenge to bottlers to create a structure that could be recognized by feel in the dark or identified lying broken on the ground. Forty years later, the company expanded its bottle sizes to include 10-, 12 and 26oz versions, followed by steel, 12oz cans.
An important part of Coca-Cola’s heritage, packaging is clearly also very much a part of its future. The brand is continuing to expand its roster of package sizes and formats and a century-plus tradition of offering consumers an array of choices. “We [will continue to] embrace innovation that gives consumers what they want,” says Sandy Douglas, president, Coca-Cola North America.