It’s the 32nd Anniversary of one of the darkest days in soft drink history. On this day in 1985 Coca-Cola rolled out its sweeter “New Coke” formula. Regarded by many as one of the worst moves in marketing history, the switch was prompted by the surge in consumption of the sweeter tasting Pepsi-Cola. This was huge news back in the mid-eighties with news coverage and magazine cover stories everywhere.
Check out this CBS News story from 1985
I was pretty excited about this release. My family were big Coca-Cola drinkers. The idea that I might be around during the release of a new formulation was astounding. Then I tried it and I thought, this stuff tastes like Pepsi. Although I am a Coke drinker, I don’t hate Pepsi, so I did not freak out like many. However I was sad at the idea of never having the classic formula again.
Listen to the Retroist New Coke Podcast
Coke spared no expense in the roll out, spending millions on advertising, you can see some of those ads in the CBS program. They even enlisted hot TV star/comedian Bill Cosby to hawk this inferior formula. The commercial is pure insincerity, with Cosby sitting in front of a black background, wearing one of his trademark sweaters, telling us how much better the New Coke actually is. Hope you enjoy counting your pieces of silver Bill!
Check out the Bill Cosby New Coke commercial
As we all know New Coke failed and the Coca-Cola Company reintroduced Classic Coke and all was right with the world. New Coke lingered on for a while and was eventually renamed “Coke II”. Eventually that faded as well and according to Coca-Cola Company, Coke II is no longer distributed in the US.
New Coke was a disaster, but it did show that the consuming public had a passion for the original formula and hey we all make mistakes. Right Pepsi?
Note: I actually love Crystal Pepsi. The fact that Pepsi brought it back is proof that others feel the same way.