So much for "Happiness."
As the marketing world obsesses over Coca-Cola's decision to trade out its hugely popular "Open Happiness" tagline to "Taste the Feeling"(see one of 25 new spots, above), it's been fun revisiting the commotion created over some of its previous slogan changes.
Check out reaction (including my own) to "The Coke Side of Life" in Ad Age a decade ago.
Indeed, whenever Coca-Cola makes marketing changes of this magnitude, it can be a hoot to take stock of its taglines from times past. You usually find some surprises along the way.
A SIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Despite being one of the world's most successful brands, there have certainly been some oddballs in Coca-Cola's advertising oeuvre—who can resist "Enjoy a Glass of Liquid Laughter" (1911), or "Proves a Big Help to Tired Housewives" (1909)?
And then there's that golden oldie: "Coca-Cola: The Great National Temperance Beverage" (1907)—which, we're told, "has none of the ill effects or 'let down' qualities of alcoholic stimulants." Yum.
Some old taglines are just inscrutable—"Same to You" (1940) sounds as if the feeling you're tasting is indignation.
And present-day regulators might have a field day with any tagline that proclaims Coke is "Pure and Healthful" (1904), and "Adds a Refreshing Relish to Every Form of Exercise" (1906), with "The Perfect Blend of Pure Products from Nature" (1923).
To modern audiences, other tags charitably might seem like aspirational positioning in the extreme—such as, "The Ideal Beverage for Discriminating People" (1906), "The Sign of Good Taste" (1957), and "The Best Drink Anyone Can Buy" (1913).
After all, everyone knows the best drink you can buy isn't Coca-Cola. It's Coke Zero.
PAST AS PROLOGUE?
Despite so many antiquated curios from campaigns past, many Coke taglines of yesteryear would be completely at home in the digital age.
Think about it:
- In an era of virtual reality, 3D printing and social media poseurs, Coke promises to bring you "The Real Thing" (1948)
- Ad skipping technology? "Relax with the Pause that Refreshes" (1947)
- The age of Uber and Airbnb? "Share a Coke" (2011)
- Group texting, geo-fencing and flash mobs? "Meet Me at the Soda Fountain" (1930)
- Personal aerial drones? "Look Up, America!" (1975)
Even online activism and crowd funding fit that all-time favorite, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" (1971).
Yet perhaps it's that texting-and-flash-mob example that hits home most. As it happens, Coke classics seem especially well suited for the mobile revolution—including (among a surprising number of others):
- "Anytime, Everywhere—The Favorite Beverage" (1918)
- "Along the Highway to Anywhere" (1949)
- "Call for Coke" (1953)
- "People on the Go—Go for Coke" (1954)
Whether this is all a sign of soda-pop prescience, promotional predestination or pure chance, Coca-Cola remains a venerable brand whose slogans will provide plenty for (pop-) cultural anthropologists to ponder in decades to come.
Will future advertising aficionados still find it as amusing as we do?
As Coca-Cola itself once put it: "Always."
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