The Real Thing: Coke Advertising

I’ll confess. I’m deeply biased when it comes to my favorite carbonated beverage.

If it’s not a Coca-Cola, it’s not a cola.

I don’t know if I was born with this affection (some might call it an affliction), but here I am 58 years later still sipping Coke…albeit in more sugar-free varieties. My favorite is a Coke Zero with butter rum and vanilla syrup. One of the early Coke television commercials touted its ability to keep you slim. I kid you not. Take a look.

When Coke switched to “New Coke” in 1985 (and then quickly repented to “Classic Coke”), I saved a bottle of “old Coke” (with a silver cap) for my growing Coke bottle collection. I still have that bottle sitting on my shelf.

Since 1997, Coca-Cola have served more than a billion drinks a day. That’s a lot of Coke.

Coca-Cola learned how to mass market early and grew an international brand on the back of clever slogans, dynamic visuals and memorable jingles. The Sundblom Santa. “It’s the Real Thing” commercial. Polar bears. The iconic Coca-Cola logo. Here are the Coca-Cola slogans from over the years, starting with the one that launched on this date in 1886:

1886 – Drink Coca-Cola
1904 – Delicious and Refreshing
1905 – Coca-Cola Revives and Sustains
1906 – The Great National Temperance Beverage
1917 – Three Million a Day
1922 – Thirst Knows No Season
1923 – Enjoy Thirst
1924 – Refresh Yourself
1925 – Six Million a Day
1926 – It Had to Be Good to Get Where It Is
1927 – Pure as Sunlight
1927 – Around the Corner from Everywhere
1929 – The Pause that Refreshes
1932 – Ice Cold Sunshine
1938 – The Best Friend Thirst Ever Had
1939 – Thirst Asks Nothing More
1939 – Whoever You Are, Whatever You Do, Wherever You May Be, When You Think of Refreshment Think of Ice Cold Coca-Cola
1942 – The Only Thing Like Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola Itself
1948 – Where There’s Coke There’s Hospitality
1949 – Along the Highway to Anywhere
1952 – What You Want is a Coke
1956 – Coca-Cola… Makes Good Things Taste Better
1957 – Sign of Good Taste
1958 – The Cold, Crisp Taste of Coke
1959 – Be Really Refreshed
1963 – Things Go Better with Coke
1969 – It’s the Real Thing
1971 – I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke (part of the “It’s the Real Thing” campaign)
1975 – Look Up America
1976 – Coke Adds Life
1979 – Have a Coke and a Smile
1982 – Coke Is It!
1985 – We’ve Got a Taste for You (for both Coca-Cola & Coca-Cola classic)
1985 – America’s Real Choice (for both Coca-Cola & Coca-Cola classic)
1986 – Red, White & You (for Coca-Cola classic)
1986 – Catch the Wave (for Coca-Cola)
1987 – When Coca-Cola is a Part of Your Life, You Can’t Beat the Feeling
1988 – You Can’t Beat the Feeling
1989 – Official Soft Drink of Summer
1990 – You Can’t Beat the Real Thing
1993 – Always Coca-Cola
2000 – Coca-Cola. Enjoy
2001 – Life Tastes Good
2003 – Coca-Cola… Real
2005 – Make It Real
2006 – The Coke Side of Life
2009 – Open Happiness

One sociologist once quipped that you could teach the history of America simply through Coca-Cola advertising. I think he’s right, but then again I’m prejudiced. I’m a consumer. I’m a collector. I’m a Coke man.

And all this writing about Coca-Cola has made me thirsty for a taste of the “real thing.”

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