In July of 1985, the Coca-Cola Company rectified one of the worst decisions in the history of corporate America - They changed the look of Coke.
They reintroduced their original product, which had been enjoyed for a century, after it had been removed in favor of New Coke three months earlier. The American public’s reaction was similar to that of losing a friend, and The Coca-Cola Company received mega backlash. The original formula was relaunched as Coca-Cola Classic, leading to a huge flux in sales.
According to blind taste tests, more people preferred New Coke to Coke Classic and Pepsi. Consumers, experts determined, were more upset by the change than the flavor. Coca-Cola received three times more phone calls on a daily basis after the switch to New Coke. Angry consumers screamed at operators day in and day out, and desperate fans hoarded gallons of Classic Coke.
There are some theories about this move by Coca-Cola: One is that Coca-Cola intentionally changed the drink so they could get attention, then switched it back to increase brand loyalty and sales. A second theory is that Coke made the change so they could alter the original formula from real sugar to high-fructose corn syrup, with the idea that when it was reintroduced people wouldn’t notice the slight difference in taste. Another theory is that Coke used the change as a cover to remove the last traces of cocaine from the formula.
The surge in sales after the fact increased brand loyalty. But the scheme nevertheless went down as one of the most terrible marketing ploys of all time. It will always be debatable whether the whole fiasco was beneficial to Coca-Cola or detrimental, but in the end - Coke is still here, in our hearts and in the fridge.