Coca-Cola Advertising

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Throughout the years Coca-Cola has created an empire for themselves and this is because of their outstanding advertising. This companies history of advertising leads to their success, and continued success in the market today. Coca-Cola has been known to be an inclusive, fun, and a brand driven by the theme of celebration. Celebrities, artists, and special events are some similarities of Coca-Cola advertisements from the past, and now.

Coca-Colas first advertisements started in 1886, and they where very plain. No pictures, only words would fill the posters stating how “refreshing and invigorating” the beverage was, and that the drink was only 5 cents. The beginning of the 1900s is when celebrities started to promote the soda. The first celebrity to be featured in advertisements was Hilda Clark, she was an actress, singer, and was also known as a model when she became the first face of Coca-Cola. When Hilda Clark was advertising Coca-Cola it was only served in fountains, there was no bottles produced at this time, so her advertisements where placed in calendars, her face would be on tin serving trays, and trade cards. Trade cards are similar to business cards today, except that they only promote a certain product.

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Norman Rockwell was the first illustrator to create artwork that was printed onto the advertisements. Rockwell created 6 paintings for Coca-Cola, he illustrated “moments of relaxation and leisure, choosing to be inspired by the message of an idealized lifestyle over a simple product placement.” (4) Rockwell was known as one of Americas best artists, so working with Coca-Cola was an iconic match. His paintings would demonstrate how people would enjoy a Coke back in that time period, and the artwork has become classic.

In 1927 Coca-Cola decided to sponsor their very first radio broadcast. The name of the broadcast was, ‘The voice of the Coca-Cola girl,’ and it lasted for fourteen weeks. Coca-Cola girl Vivian was introduced to America, and throughout the weeks listeners learned everything about Vivian and Jim’s romance. Coca-Cola continued to use radio as one of their main advertising outlets for a few decades since it was so prominent. In 1951 Coca-Cola endorsed Mario Lanza to premiere in a broadcast named, The Mario Lanza Show. Lanza was a famous opera singer, and also an actor. His advertisements that Coca-Cola presented would focus on the love people had for Lanza and his music, so people would associate drinking a Coke while enjoying his music or performances.

‘Mean’ Joe Greene, a defensemen on the Pittsburg Steelers, was in Coca-Colas first super bowl commercial in 1979. Greene was known to be a scary guy, hence his nickname contained the word ‘mean,’ but this commercial ended up softening his unapproachable image. In the commercial Greene walks off the field mad and limping due to an injury, then a young boy offers him a Coke. Greene accepted the Coke, chugged it, and gave the kid his jersey. The famous line that made this commercial significant was, “Have a coke and smile.” Proving that a Coke could even change the attitude of ‘Mean’ Joe Greene. Coca-Cola presented Greene in such a different perspective than everyone was used to, that people actually started approaching him because they saw his nice side from the commercial.

Fast forward to 2014, Coca-Cola launched their “Share a Coke” campaign. Which consisted of Coca-Cola labels having different names on their bottles, this strategy had people searching for Cokes with their name on it. Other bottles read different adjectives, for example ‘Friend,’ ‘Dad,’ ‘A Champion,’ etc. This created a more personal feeling while purchasing and drinking a Coke. In 2016 Selena Gomez was the face of “Share a Coke and song.” Her song ‘Me and the Rhythm’ was used to promote in commercials, and her lyrics were also printed onto the Coke bottles. Coca-Cola also used Gomez’s social media platform to advertise to her 89.9 million followers. Selena posted pictures on Instagram drinking a Coke with her lyrics printed on the Coke bottle, and the photos received millions of likes.

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Over the years, ‘Share a Coke’ has become more than just purchasing a drink with your name on it, but started sharing experiences. Countless posts started popping up on social medias with the hash tag, #ShareACoke. All the posts consisted of moments where people were spending time together, and sharing memories. They used these ideas for the summer of 2018, and expanded on ‘Share a Coke’. For the summer they expanded with more beverages, package designs, and sharing opportunities. The packaging design changes where that the name labels doubled as stickers, so customers could wear it on their clothes, or even stick them onto other objects. Also when the consumer peeled off the sticker, it would reveal a Sip & Scan code, that if they scanned they had the chance to win different types of prizes. The prizes included tickets to gaming events or amusement parks, to share memories with others, and some of them was winning a free Coke.

These different ways of advertising works very well for Coca-Cola because they are able reach many different people, and because Coca-Cola is such an inclusive brand they have a huge market. Coca-Cola has succeeded in creating a community of Coca-Cola lovers that will stay loyal to their brand. Whether consumers tuned into the radio to listen to a Coca-Cola love story in the 1920s or buying a Coke with your name on it in present day, there was always something that appealed to everyone. Coca-Cola has come a long way from starting with plain trade cards to advertise, to now showcasing different famous personalities enjoying their products on different media outlets. They have always been able to keep up with what will draw each new generation into their products, while able to keep the older generations as customers too. This type of advertising works for Coca-Cola because of their broad customer base.

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Coca-Cola Advertising. (2019, Oct 04). Retrieved from