The Secret Secrets of Coca-Cola’s Hidden Formula Revealed

More than 120 years after pharmacist John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola, people from all over the world are still as much in love with this most famous of soft drinks as our great-grandparents were. Hold up a Coke and you proclaim all that’s best about the American way of life: Coca-Cola is a happy girl on a summer day, a vintage neon sign outside your hometown bar, first dates and shy kisses, the worldwide symbol of friendship…

Coca-Cola is also one of the most succesful companies and world’s most popular brand. Nothing can be so much a part of popular culture and everyday life, without sparking curious minds. Since the early days of the brand, people are especially fascinated by the Coca-Cola Company’s top-secret recipe for Coca-Cola. The true source of Coke’s unique flavor lies not in the coca/cola combination but in a special mix of oils and flavorings, including the mysterious ingredient known as “Merchandise 7X”, which no outsider has yet succeeded in identifying.

Asa Candler’s son, Charles Howard Candler, summed up the Coca-Cola mystique in these words: “One of the proudest moments of my life came when my father initiated me into the mysteries of the secret flavoring formula, inducting me into the “Holy of Holies”. No written formulae were shown. Containers of ingredients, from which the labels had been removed, were identified only by sight, smell, and remembering where each was put on the shelf. To be safe, my father stood by me several times while I compounded these distinctive flavors with particular reference to the order in which they should be measured out and mixed and I thereupon experienced the thrill of making up with his guidance a batch of Merchandise 7X.”

Coca-Cola’s formula is without a doubt one of the most closely-held trade secrets in modern business. Coca-Cola Argentina just released the animated commercial “Hidden Formula”, a funny take on Coke’s extremely valuable secret. Written, art directed & produced by Santo Buenos Aires for Coca-Cola Argentina, the TV & cinema spot reveals all about the secret secrets of Coca-Cola hidden formula. Enjoy!

Credits: Agency: Santo, Buenos Aires / General Creative Directors: Sebastián Wilhelm – Pablo Minces – Maximiliano Anselmo / Art Director: Maximiliano Anselmo / Director: David Daniels, Ray Di Carlo / Music: Swing Music / Copywriter: Pablo Minces / Agency Producer: Ezequiel Ortiz Production Company: Bent Image Lab, Portland / The Coca-Cola Company Project Lead: Marina Palma

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Coca-Cola’s Secret Formula for Happiness

A shiny red can that reads “Coca-Cola” and a whole list of ingredients: carbonated water, sugar, caramel, phosphoric acid, caffeine and natural flavorings. Coca-Cola is all about the magic of good taste & flavor – and apparently something highly secret. The natural flavorings are a unique blend of vegetable extracts and spices from around the world. Coca-Cola has never told what the 7 secret ingredients are, and this “Merchandise 7X” has remained the world’s most famous trade secret since Coca-Cola’s invention in 1886.

When John Stith Pemberton sold the first glass of Coca-Cola in his pharmacy in 1886, he was entering a new market for soda fountain tonics that promised health benefits along with refreshment. In 1869, Pemberton already experimented extensively with extracts of the coca leaf and kola nut, initially marketing a moderately successful health drink called “French Wine Coca.” Fifteen years later, one of Pemberton’s partners, Frank M. Robinson, invented the name Coca-Cola, derived from its central ingredients. Robinson also registered the product’s famous script logo. A marketing phenomenon was born.

From that day on, there has always been a mystique about the “secret formula” of Coca-Cola. Folklore even said that the original beverage contained cocaine, at least until the “Pure Food and Drugs Act” was voted in 1906. The official position of the Coca-Cola Company, however, is that the drink contained extracts of the coca leaf, but never the drug. Over the years, the Coke’s attorneys have fought in court to protect Coca-Cola’s secret formula. It’s been said that the ingredient list is kept in a security vault in a bank in Atlanta, Georgia and only a few employees know the full recipe, and those employees are not allowed to fly on the same plane and cannot be left alone with strangers while they are together. Over the years, Coca-Cola’s secret formula has been the subject of books, speculation and marketing lore.

But the real “secret ingredients” reach far above vegetable extracts or spices. Coca-Cola’s true magic is all about love, perspective, universality, friendship, purpose, humor and optimism. It’s a way of living spontaneous & finding happiness. It’s the belief that together we can create a more positive reality, where global love and joy rule supreme.

The current global “The Coke Side of Life” advertising campaign invites people to live in full color and listen to their hearts. The “Coke Side” is the positive side of life and focusses on universal experiences. Coke is probably the most famous cultural icon that links people from all-over the world. At its core, the concept of sharing is the purest essence of Coca-Cola. Drinking a Coca-Cola brings people from different nationalities, cultures and walks of life together. “The Pause that Refreshes” is a universal language and global connector, happiness in a bottle.

Coca-Cola Remix Art: “Universal Love on the Coke Side of Life” by Yker Moreno / DJ Spinbalon.

Grïngo, the World Wild Web Bunch

What makes a website great? Information, interactivity, freebies, … A sense of humor can help too. But what makes a website really compelling is that it’s useful, relevant & engaging for the visitors.
When Coca-Cola Brazil was looking to bring their website to the next level they put all their trust in Grïngo, an award-winning multimedia agency based in São Paulo and true visionaries in the interactive field. Over the last year, Grïngo has been creating a huge buzz for Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light & Coca-Cola Zero with several extremely popular and anticipated projects. If you want to see flashes of genius & get some real cool web action, check out the links below. Expect the unexpected!

Coca-Cola Zero Celular

Karaokê Coca-Cola Zero

Coca-Cola Clothing Dance

Coca-Cola Light – Sabores do Mundo

Coca-Cola Pop Art Gallery: Micha Klein, Pioneer of the Digital Image Culture

Micha Klein graduated from the Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, in 1989 as the first artist to receive a BA in computer graphics. The same year, Klein started exhibiting his gigantic photographic panels in prestigious galleries around the world.

Klein was already known as a successful VJ and experienced a breakthrough on the international club scene before he made it as an artist. Pioneer of the VJ-scene, Micha Klein introduced his rhythmic editing of computer graphics and video images at the first Acid house parties in 1988. In the nineties, he introduced the VJ concept in Ibiza, where he held a residency in legendary club Pacha. The rest of the world would follow fast. Over the years, Klein has seen how things have technically evolved and how the VJ-scene has boomed: “The new equipment and software create new possibilities. We live in a multimedia age, so we can’t live on music alone anymore. Visuals will become an integral part of electronic culture, and in the future DJ’s will become Media Jockey’s” (note: with this 90’s quote, Micha proved to be a real visionary – anno 2008, the age of the Media Jockey has begun with tools as the Pioneer SVM 1000).

In 1998, the Groninger Museum honored him with a retrospective dedicated to 10 years of his graphic production and videos. In 2003, Klein was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the international VJ scene during the AVIT UK summit.

Klein’s artworks are a significant crossover between art, multimedia, video art, VJing, marketing and advertising. They attract attention for their digital approach, surrealistic shapes & objects and bright colors and tell stories of a world that revisits pop art and culture. Klein doesn’t portray reality; he likes to create his own reality.
With his computer manipulated images and psychedelic computer palette, Klein explores the media based culture of our time. He mixes music, club culture, fashion, beauty and mass media to create a wondrous universe somewhere between dream and reality.

The people and landscapes in his artworks are just too beautiful & perfect. They appear unreal, even unearthly. In his series ‘Artificial Beauty’ (1998), Klein generated a new fictitious generation of beautiful young people, taking over the top the all too perfect beings and settings we encounter in advertisements.
By doing so, Klein also shows that today’s photography has no more to do with reality than other types of images. Even the most stunning models are given a Photoshop make-over. The end result is highly artificial, and comments on the aspects of society that Klein finds fascinating yet problematic such as artificial beauty and plastic surgery.

The aesthetics of advertising and elements of everyday and popular culture have always been an integrated element Klein’s art, and he brings everything that is usable over from this world. In true pop art tradition, Micha Klein is a big but critical fan of the techniques and concepts of advertising. Just like Damien Hirst, Klein believes that art must compete with commercial and spectacular expressions: “My work must be as seductive as advertising and entertainment. If not, it loses its visibility in a culture saturated by media, constantly bombarding us with commercial messages. Since these messages have become part of the mainstream culture, it is vital that artists especially can infiltrate this culture with their subversive ideas.”

Over the last years, Micha Klein has worked in clubs around the world and collaborated with superstar DJ Tiësto on visuals for his live-sets and created background projections for Eminem’s concert tour, based on his notorious character Pillman. Klein also did all the artworks for the Dutch dance festival Mysteryland, designed the animations for Jacky Chan’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ movie and did commercial work for companies and brands as Swatch, Philips, Endemol, KPN, Mustang Jeans, Heineken, Hugo Boss and Samsung.

For his first Coca-Cola commercial, Micha Klein managed to put in a girl in a ‘Make Love, Not War’ T-shirt (just before the 2nd Gulf war), a boy wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt the war and girls licking each others faces. The video with music by Monte La Rue, introducing Coca-Cola’s new visual identity by Desgrippes Gobé, was sold to 25 Coca-Cola markets, a lot in Central and South America.

Klein’s commercial jobs and his works of art have a number of parallels in form & content: “It’s fun to stretch the image of a company in directions they never would imagine, to sort of pile your own layer of meaning on top of theirs, to inject some of my own ideas”.
Klein always tries to inject some of his own ideas in his commercial work. “I try to talk to the client and tell them they should transform their strategy to become a ‘good company’, to be closer to their consumers and do community projects. Give back to the people… I think in the future companies will be judged on that”.
By doing commercial assignments, Klein can finance his own art, and is not dependent on government subsidies, which gives him more freedom.

The music & club culture is still a key component in Klein’s work; at times he prefers the unceremonious gathering at clubs to the seriousness of galleries or museums.
For the Coca-Cola commercial “Bubble Dream Girl”, Klein could combine his passion for dance floors and advertising. The clip was shot in Malaga on 35mm, with a 50 people crew and 80 extras. Graphics & special effects were added in post production and his friend Tiësto did the soundtrack.

Last year (2007), ‘Speeding on the Virtual Highway’, a documentary about Micha Klein’s life & work was shown at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Director Corinne van Egeraat follows Klein as he works on his his new art series. This unique time document shows us how fast digital developments go and how quickly the times they are a-changin’, especially in the case of Klein’s creative way of living.

Coca-Cola = A Soda Pop, a Strong Idea, Part of Global Economies & Cultures, a Trusted Friend, a Personal Brand

Dan Schawbel posted this very interesting interview with Jerry Wilson, senior vice president at The Coca-Cola Company on his Personal Branding blog.
As an executive for the N°1 brand in the world, Wilson shares his vision about brand development and personal branding.

“Coca-Cola personifies authenticity, life’s simple pleasures and optimism. We learned many years ago, during the New Coke launch, that our brand Coca-Cola is actually “owned” by our consumers all around the world, not the corporation”. Jerry Wilson

Wilson joined The Coca-Cola Company in 1988. His background includes general management, brand marketing, strategic planning, customer management and people development.
Recently, Jerry wrote a book called “Managing Brand You: 7 Steps to Creating Your Most Successful Self.”

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