A Marketing Nightmare

Release of "New Coke" unwelcomed by fans

New Coke, from Flickr

In the 1980's, the sugary soda market began to decline. Executives at Coca-Cola wondered, "Are people getting tired of Coke?" This notion, along with increased competition from Pepsi, prompted Coca-Cola to take a drastic measure.

The research and development team kept a new soda under wraps from nearly everyone, even the bottlers. The team found that among test group after test group, "New" Coke was winning against Classic Coke in blind taste tests.

However, researchers failed to mention one thing to their test subjects: The New Coke that they thought tasted better would completely replace the Classic Coke

On April 23, 1985, New Coke was launched, but not without backlash from Classic Coke lovers. A group called the Old Cola Drinkers of America formed, and in July Coke had about 8,000 calls a day expressing their anger over the new formula. In addition, angry letters poured into Coca-Cola headquarters every day.

The problem with New Coke was that it broke tradition. By 1980, Coke was an identifiable icon, and changing the taste was almost like changing people's lives. The taste of New Coke probably didn't offend them the most; it was the idea of New Coke that hurt fans of Coca-Cola. On July 10, 1985, it was announced that Coca-Cola classic would be returning to store shelves.

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