Coca-Cola Case Study
The Coca-Cola Company changed the formula to their namesake drink in 1985. Coca-Cola’s official website mentions that they were receiving about 1,400 calls a day on their consumer hotline. The Society for the Preservation of the Real Thing and Old Cola Drinkers of America were formed in protest of the new formula (The Coca-Cola Company). Hardcore fans of the original Coca-Cola were outraged. Coca-Cola utilized the six components of the business communication cycle to do damage control, but they should have never drastically changed their beloved soda in the first place.
According to our textbook, the six components of business communications are purpose, audience, message, source, feedback, and response. The purpose for the communication was that Coca-Cola’s customers needed to learn that they were making their beloved classic version of Coca-Cola available again. Everyone who drank Coca-Cola was a part of the targeted audience. The message was that due to popular demand, The Coca-Cola Company was bringing their original formula version of Coca-Cola back.
Don Keough delivered the message (Turner-Rush). According to Fortune, Don Keough was employed as both the President and Chief Operating Officer at the Coca-Cola Company (Sellers). I believe he was an appropriate choice as an executive of the company. Coca-Cola’s official website mentions the overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers. Their hotline received 31,600 calls in the two days following Don Keough’s famous speech. Coca-Cola responded to their calls and continued manufacturing both versions of their soda (The Coca-Cola Company). Our textbook states that New Coke was discontinued in 2002 (Turner-Rush).
I would have never changed the taste of Coca-Cola in the first place. Their namesake soda was already extremely popular. They did not receive calls from hordes of customers complaining to them about the taste staying the same. Our textbook mentions how The Coca-Cola Company was threatened by Pepsi’s increasing success. They changed their formula in response to this. Even though New Coke performed better in taste tests, many customers were angry about not being able to obtain the soda they had always loved (Turner-Rush). Communicating with customers before, during, and after a product change is important. If The Coca-Cola Company had communicated with customers more before making the change, they might have avoided the whole New Coke fiasco. If I held a significant amount of influence over The Coca-Cola Company throughout the 1980s, I would have had them communicating with customers about changing the taste of their favorite drink.
The Coca-Cola Company orchestrated their own problem by making an unnecessary change to their classic soda. They brought the original Coca-Cola back and used the business communication cycle to resolve the problem.
Sellers, Patricia. “The Real Boss behind Coke’s Secret Formula.” Fortune, Fortune, 25 Feb. 2015, https://fortune.com/2015/02/25/keough-died-coke/.
The Coca-Cola Company. “The Story of One of the Most Memorable Marketing Blunders Ever – News & Articles.” The Coca-Cola Company, The Coca-Cola Corporation, https://www.coca-colacompany.com/company/history/the-story-of-one-of-the-most-memorable-marketing-blunders-ever.
Turner-Rush, Kim. Effective Communication. Great River Learning.