Witness anew what is arguably the lowest point of the illustrious career of Bill Cosby...
"Better than ever"?? I still remember the one time that I tried to drink New Coke. It tasted like crap! What were you thinking, Bill?! We trusted you! And Coca-Cola betrayed us! No Jell-O Pudding for you.
With a wrathful vehemence not seen since the Cabbage Patch Kid riots of '83, Coca-Cola found itself besieged with angry phone calls, letters and organized protests. Three months later then-CEO Roberto Goizueta announced - via a televised spot with all the gravitas of an Oval Office address - that the crisis was ending: the old Coca-Cola was coming back as "Coca-Cola Classic".
And within days of hitting shelves again for the first time, sales of original Coca-Cola soared. Coca-Cola Classic fast eclipsed sales of Pepsi. To this day, Coca-Cola remains the best-selling soft drink in the world.
How could it not have? By that point in the summer of 1985 Coca-Cola dominated much of the pop cultural discussion, both here and abroad. People were talking about Coke like they had never talked about it before.
New Coke by itself was a business failure... but New Coke did make people want the original Coke like never before. New Coke pulled off what had never been done on this large a scale before: it created genuine demand for something that was already so successful it didn't need demand.
I don't care what the "official" documents say: I'm fairly convinced that the New Coke fiasco in my book was brilliant and quite intentional psychological marketing. Not completely convinced though. Wanna know why? Because it does bother me, that the mass of people can be manipulated by something so simple. And so part of my mind doesn't want to acknowledge a great fear that history and human nature have perhaps confirmed too many times already. But anyhoo...
If you want to know more about New Coke, which we got ambushed with twenty-five years ago this week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a good write-up about it, including how Coca-Cola is now chronicling the New Coke episode at the World of Coca-Cola.
(If nothing else, it has to be said that New Coke was a product so bad that it made Billy Beer taste good.)