9 min

#017: Coke – they already had an empire, but‪…‬ The Empire Builders Podcast

    • Entrepreneurship

Coke.  Hold on a minute.  They are already an empire.  This is a lesson on how no matter how big you are, no matter how much you spend, and even if you are the best marketers on the planet; you cannot bend the consumer to your will.  If you have ever thought that you can use advertising to change consumer behaviour you need to listen to this podcast.



David Young:



Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners, the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple, is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well it's us, but we're highlighting ads, we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those.



[No Bull RV Ad]







David Young:



Steven Semple, today, we're going to talk about Coca-Cola.



Steven Semple:



It's interesting. And we're doing yet another department, we've been doing those lately.



David Young:



Yeah, that's not even really empire building. It's like how somebody that had an empire tried to kill it.



Steven Semple:



Yeah, basically, but there's a lesson to be learned here. Because often we hear clients that come to us, they sit there and say, I'd like the consumer to behave different, it would be better if they shop at these times or they behaved in this manner or they did this and the other thing. And we're always saying you can't use advertising to change the behavior of a customer. And I came across this around Coca-Cola and I found this fascinating because look, let's face it. Coca-Cola is arguably one of the most successful advertisers on the planet. One of the most successful brands, they have a huge budget, like they've been doing it forever.



Steven Semple:



And the company has been around since 1886, was founded by John Pemberton. And even when he founded Coca-Cola, he started with a big advertising budget. So by 1912, they were spending a million dollars a year in advertising, which was a huge budget at the time. That's $30 million in today's dollars. Then also think about how small the population was in comparison for that $30 million. So really it's probably more like 400, $500 million budget if you adjusted for inflation and population. So they've been great, done it for a long time, hugely successful, big budgets, but they have this one little problem. And this problem was they discovered that people were not asking for the product by name.



David Young:



They weren't standing up and saying, "I'd like a Coca-Cola, please."



Steven Semple:



No, they were standing up and saying, I'd like a Coke.



David Young:



Oh a Coke.



Steven Semple:



A Coke. And for the longest time, the company wasn't happy about it. They decided, consumer behavior must change. We must change consumer behavior. Consumers must use the full name. We are Coca-Cola, we have big advertising budget. We know what we're doing. So we are turning our marketing muscle to changing consumer behavior. We will bend the customer to our will, right? Because all we're asking you to say is Coca-Cola, damn it. Just instead of Coke, Coca, just add Coca, two syllables, easy, right? So here's what they did. In 1913, they started running an ad that said this, Coca-Cola, ask for it by its full name, then you will get the genuine. That was the advertising campaign. And they tried various things for almost 40 years. They weren't-



David Young:



To get people that quit saying Coke.



Steven Semple:



To get people to quit saying Coke. In 1942, they finally waved the white flag.



David Young:



Stay tuned, we're going to wrap up this story and tell you how to apply this lesson to your business right after this.



[EMPIRE BUILDERS AD]







Brought to you by the least full of shit marketers association of America. Yes, that's a low bar, but we clear it mightily.

Coke.  Hold on a minute.  They are already an empire.  This is a lesson on how no matter how big you are, no matter how much you spend, and even if you are the best marketers on the planet; you cannot bend the consumer to your will.  If you have ever thought that you can use advertising to change consumer behaviour you need to listen to this podcast.



David Young:



Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners, the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple, is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well it's us, but we're highlighting ads, we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those.



[No Bull RV Ad]







David Young:



Steven Semple, today, we're going to talk about Coca-Cola.



Steven Semple:



It's interesting. And we're doing yet another department, we've been doing those lately.



David Young:



Yeah, that's not even really empire building. It's like how somebody that had an empire tried to kill it.



Steven Semple:



Yeah, basically, but there's a lesson to be learned here. Because often we hear clients that come to us, they sit there and say, I'd like the consumer to behave different, it would be better if they shop at these times or they behaved in this manner or they did this and the other thing. And we're always saying you can't use advertising to change the behavior of a customer. And I came across this around Coca-Cola and I found this fascinating because look, let's face it. Coca-Cola is arguably one of the most successful advertisers on the planet. One of the most successful brands, they have a huge budget, like they've been doing it forever.



Steven Semple:



And the company has been around since 1886, was founded by John Pemberton. And even when he founded Coca-Cola, he started with a big advertising budget. So by 1912, they were spending a million dollars a year in advertising, which was a huge budget at the time. That's $30 million in today's dollars. Then also think about how small the population was in comparison for that $30 million. So really it's probably more like 400, $500 million budget if you adjusted for inflation and population. So they've been great, done it for a long time, hugely successful, big budgets, but they have this one little problem. And this problem was they discovered that people were not asking for the product by name.



David Young:



They weren't standing up and saying, "I'd like a Coca-Cola, please."



Steven Semple:



No, they were standing up and saying, I'd like a Coke.



David Young:



Oh a Coke.



Steven Semple:



A Coke. And for the longest time, the company wasn't happy about it. They decided, consumer behavior must change. We must change consumer behavior. Consumers must use the full name. We are Coca-Cola, we have big advertising budget. We know what we're doing. So we are turning our marketing muscle to changing consumer behavior. We will bend the customer to our will, right? Because all we're asking you to say is Coca-Cola, damn it. Just instead of Coke, Coca, just add Coca, two syllables, easy, right? So here's what they did. In 1913, they started running an ad that said this, Coca-Cola, ask for it by its full name, then you will get the genuine. That was the advertising campaign. And they tried various things for almost 40 years. They weren't-



David Young:



To get people that quit saying Coke.



Steven Semple:



To get people to quit saying Coke. In 1942, they finally waved the white flag.



David Young:



Stay tuned, we're going to wrap up this story and tell you how to apply this lesson to your business right after this.



[EMPIRE BUILDERS AD]







Brought to you by the least full of shit marketers association of America. Yes, that's a low bar, but we clear it mightily.

9 min