Within an arm's reach of desire

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Coca-Cola is the most recognised brand name in the world with 94 per cent recognition. This profile has spread with increasing rapidity in recent years as evidenced for example in China, where Coca-Cola became the most recognised trademark in the late 1990s. Today you can buy a Coke almost anywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires, from Moscow to Mexico City. The Coca-Cola Company sells half of all soft drinks consumed throughout the world.

New opportunities

A developing business organisation will forever seek new opportunities to renew itself. A successful global business will seek to penetrate new markets and new countries while building on improving its presence in existing markets and in this  way it will continue to grow.

The Coca-Cola Company has come a long way since the product was invented in 1886 by Dr John Styth Pemberton in a back yard in Atlanta, Georgia. Today the Company is selling over one billion servings a day. To many business people such results would indicate that the Company has arrived but key decision makers at Coca-Cola do not see it like that, they believe that the Company is in its infancy. The Company is acutely aware that, although one billion servings of Coca-Cola are consumed each day, there are 47 billion servings of other beverages.

Coca-Cola is focusing on the next billion servings. 70% of the world’s population live in countries where per capita consumption of Coca-Cola products is less than 50 servings per person per year - this means that they are drinking Coca-Cola products less than once a week. Even in developed countries like the United States there are many opportunities to raise sales.

Coca-Cola has created an extensive and well-organised global distribution network guaranteeing the ubiquity of its products. (Ubiquity is the ability to appear to be present everywhere at once.) Its approach is founded on the belief that Coca-Cola must try to quench the thirst of everyone in the world - all 5.6 billion of them!

The Company operates a worldwide franchise system supplying syrups and concentrates to over 1,200 bottling operations, (there are more than 350 in the US alone!) which thus involves local companies and suppliers in the 200 countries in which Coca-Cola is sold.

The bottling companies distribute the world's favourite brand using the most sophisticated technology and distribution networks available. The Company supports its international bottler network with sophisticated marketing programmes seeking to guarantee the Company's brands are available where anyone is seeking refreshment. Coca-Cola's bottling system is the largest and most widespread production and distribution network in the world.

No story of Coca-Cola would be complete without the Coca-Cola glass bottle. The design for the bottle was created in the early 1900s when the bottlers of Coca-Cola faced constant threat of imitation of both product and packaging. 'We need a Coca-Cola bottle which a person will recognise as a Coca-Cola bottle even if he feels it in the dark. The bottle should be so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was.' (The Coca-Cola bottle design brief in 1915.)

Today the glass bottle is seen as an icon. An icon is a symbol or image which directly refers to a specific entity or moment. Acclaimed as one of the most famous packages, the Coca-Cola glass bottle was re-launched in 1997 in a unique new format for Britain at "The Coca-Cola Bottle" exhibition at London's Design Museum.

Coca-Cola also produces the world's most popular flavoured soft drinks: Fanta and Sprite, as well as diet Coke and Cherry Coke. These products can be mass marketed across the globe using standard promotions and advertising campaigns. This dramatically cuts promotional and advertising costs as these are distributed over a large market area.

As Coca-Cola is the flagship of the Company, more money is spent advertising and promoting Coke than any of the other drinks. In the United Kingdom, Coca-Cola advertises all year round.

   1886 - Delicious and Refreshing
    1929 - The Pause that Refreshes
    1942 - It's the Real Thing, often used since 1942
    1963 - Things go Better with Coca-Cola
    1971 - I'd like to Teach the World to Sing
    1976 - Coke Adds Life
    1982 - Coke is It
    1989 - Can't Beat the Feeling
    1993 - Always Coca-Cola
    1996 - Eat Football, Sleep Football, Drink Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola is able to engage in global advertising because the messages created about its products have a universal appeal. Coca-Cola's powerful brand personality has become a vehicle for promotion in its own right.

Coca-Cola has provided a platform for a number of highly successful artistic and sporting events, including the Olympics. The brand has also proven to be strong enough to support a wide range of branded merchandise bought not only for its quality, but because it is fashionable.

Coca-Cola has a long history of sports sponsorship including the Olympic Games, football, tennis and Special Olympics. Coca-Cola has been involved with the Olympic Games since 1928. It has been sponsoring the football World Cup since 1978 and is actively involved with the Wimbledon Championships. Coca-Cola's support is at all levels.

In 1993, Coca-Cola became sponsors of The Coca-Cola Cup in England, with Scotland following in 1994. Support is also provided for the English National Football Team and the Scottish International Youth Teams with a grass roots programme for mini-soccer with the Football Association Development Programme. Through sponsorship in leisure activities, Coca-Cola is able to combine the promise of refreshment with a sense of thrill, celebration and passion together with the universal necessity of a healthy, active lifestyle.

Coca-Cola is a global product and can largely be marketed using a global approach, but the Company also engages in national and regional marketing strategies which illustrate a recognition of local and cultural differences. The first advertisement of Coca-Cola was an oil-cloth sign containing the phrase 'Delicious and Refreshing' Now throughout the world, you can see Coca-Cola advertised in the cinema, on TV, on posters and in magazines.

The 'Always Coca-Cola' campaign theme has been used worldwide to reinforce the universality of the brand which is 'always' there. However, different advertisements are also made for each market. This enables Coca-Cola to choose the most relevant advertisements for its consumers and to choose how and when they should appear.

In Great Britain, for example, where football is a national passion, 'Eat Football, Sleep Football, Drink Coca-Cola' is a massively successful advertising campaign reinforcing the link between Coca-Cola and football while continuing the brand's support of the game and fans.

The Company requires consistent expansion and development in its distribution systems. Coca-Cola is able to do this effectively due to its strategy of growth which has enabled the Company to develop international market leadership.

This case study has illustrated the way in which Coca-Cola has developed a global mindset which involves utilising working relationships and understanding cultural structures, thereby identifying global opportunities.

Through manipulating and co-ordinating the tools of branding and advertising via image and activity, such as through sport sponsorship, The Coca-Cola Company seeks to provide refreshment for all of the people on the planet - not just the 20% who currently account for 80% of sales.