Naperville Business Lawyer on the Limited Return of New Coke

New Coke, Naperville business law attorneyWhenever anyone talks about major mistakes made in the business world, New Coke is almost always part of the discussion. For those who might not be old enough to remember, the New Coke fiasco was a culturally defining event of the so-called “cola wars” of the 1980s, as Coca-Cola and Pepsi battled for dominance of the soft drink industry.

As a business law attorney, I was intrigued to hear that New Coke is slated to make a comeback this summer, but in a much more limited release than the last time. According to Coca-Cola officials, the limited-time product is intended to help promote the third season of the Netflix series Stranger Things—a sci-fi/horror show that is set in the mid-1980s and loaded with nostalgic references.

A Big Plan Gone Wrong

In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company announced that it would be changing the formula of its flagship product. “New Coke,” as it was known, was outperforming both Coca-Cola—it was not called Coke Classic yet—and Pepsi in blind taste tests, the company reported. Rather than roll out New Coke as a separate product to sell alongside Coca-Cola, the Atlanta-based beverage maker stopped production of the 99-year-old Coca-Cola and pushed forward with New Coke. The alleged concern was that splitting the loyalty of Coke drinkers would allow Pepsi to claim the title of America’s most popular soft drink.

There were several problems with the launch of New Coke, however. First, the blind taste tests reportedly failed to account for those who drank larger quantities of soda. New Coke was sweeter than Coca-Cola, but the increased sweetness was too much for many consumers once the large-scale changeover occurred.

The bigger issue, according to many industry and marketing experts, was that the Coca-Cola Company failed to account for the connection that many Coke drinkers had to the brand itself. This connection manifested in feelings of resentment and bitterness toward the company that would dare make such a change in a product that had been part of the fabric of Americana for nearly a century.

Within a few months, the company backtracked and the old version of the soft drink returned to store shelves, now labeled as Coca-Cola Classic. New Coke continued for several years, eventually being rebranded as Coke II before being discontinued in 1992.

A New Track for New Coke

As the third season of Stranger Things prepares for release, several tie-in marketing campaigns are in the works, including New Coke and the Upside Down Whopper offered at Burger King. Coca-Cola officials say that only 500,000 cans of New Coke will be produced, and distribution will be limited. New Coke will be given as a gift with online purchases of Coke and Coke Zero Sugar in Stranger Things collectable glass bottles and with gift or ticket purchases at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. Customers can also find New Coke in Stranger Things-themed vending machines in U.S. cities during the summer.

Call a Naperville Business Lawyer Today

If you have an idea for rejuvenating your company, it is important to consider all of the possible ramifications of implementing your idea. Contact an experienced DuPage County business law attorney for guidance. Call the Gierach Law Firm at 630-756-1160 today.


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