Coca-Cola: A History of Advertising

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The Coca-Cola Company has always believed in advertising, and over the last 130 years, it has successfully branded Coke as the quintessential American drink. It is no coincidence, then, that Interbrand’s Best Global Brands study named Coca-Cola the world’s third most valuable brand in 2015.

Coca-Cola makes for an interesting case study because of the multitude of ads it has done through the years, utilising a wide range of marketing techniques, as well as embracing new advertising technologies as they emerged, be it television, film, or social media. Coca-Cola has become such an integrated part of our daily landscape, its appearance in our lives is more abundant than we know it. Script Consultants lists out some of the most memorable moments in the history of Coca-Cola advertising.

1894: Billboard Advertising

A painted wall in Cartersville, Georgia, United States is the world’s first Coca-Cola outdoor wall advertisement.

1895: Celebrity Endorsement

Hilda Clark, a Bostonian actress, becomes the first spokeswoman for Coca-Cola.

1916: Film Advertising

The earliest film to include Coca-Cola is silent comedy The Mystery of the Leaping Fish. Douglas Fairbanks is seen driving on a California freeway when he passes by a Coca-Cola billboard.

1922: Print Advertising

Coca-Cola introduces its polar bear mascot, which continue to be featured in both print and animation ads today.

1930: Print Advertising

Santa Claus is featured in Coca-Cola’s Christmas’ ads for the first time. Coca-Cola would go on to help shape the image of Santa as we know it today.

1950: Television Advertising

The first television ad for Coca-Cola is launched on Thanksgiving Day in conjunction with a television special featuring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

1971: Multi-Platform Advertising

The jingle I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke first aired on American radio on February 12. It was later made into the world’s most expensive television commercial in history, at that time. This hit single was eventually rewritten into pop song I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony.)

1982: Product Placement

The Coca-Cola Company acquired Columbia Pictures in June and inserted Coca-Cola into the films.

2002: Television Advertising

Coca-Cola pioneered the entry of product placement into variety and reality television when it sponsored American Idol.

2006: Customer Loyalty Campaign

Coca-Cola launched loyalty campaign My Coke Rewards, which allowed customers to redeem prizes through a point collection system. In its first ten months, over a million prizes had been redeemed.

2011: Customer-to-Customer Advertising

Coca-Cola swapped out the Coke branding on bottles and cans with customisable first names in the Share a Coke campaign.

2012: Social Media Advertising

Coca-Cola’s polar bears interacted with audiences live during the Super Bowl 2012 through Facebook and Twitter.


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Edited & Illustrated by: Script Consultants Pte Ltd (Singapore)

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