If you weren’t around in the early ’80s, then you might have sometimes wondered why Coca-Cola’s flagship beverage is labeled “Classic.”
Coca-Cola was facing something of a company crisis at the time, as Pepsi was beginning to gain ground in the market. Thus, to fend off its competition, Double C decided to try reinventing itself. And while it was successful in testing, it was a commercial failure. How dare they change such an American institution as Coke?!
“New Coke,” as the new product was known, was a more Pepsi-styled cola, and wasn’t completely unpopular, but the public wanted the Coke they knew and trusted back, and so the Coca-Cola Company brought back their old formula alongside the new, labeling the original as “Classic” Coke. The move reinvigorated the brand, enough so that some suspected that the entire “New Coke” (or Coke II, as it was later known) operation was a deliberate move to reintroduce Coke to the populace. But as Coca-Cola President Don Keough once said in reaction to the allegations, he’s “not that dumb, and not that smart.”
And so it’s been for about the past 24 years… that is, until now.
With New Coke long having since been phased out of the market, with the odd exception of territories like Samoa, Coca-Cola has at long last opted to drop the “Classic” from the product’s name in order to achieve a greater degree of global brand unity.
“It is a relic of the past and doesn’t sound very modern,” according to an unnamed source in the story. “How many people are going around saying, ‘May I please have a Coke Classic?’”
Of course, the company has made sure to note that history is not repeating itself, and they are not making the same mistake twice. “We’ve taken very deliberate steps to ensure that people know the Coke Classic they know and love remains the same,” said spokesman Scott Williamson. One example is the phrase “Coke Classic original formula,” which will remain printed in some form on the bottles.
For those interested in trying New Coke for themselves, you can find out how to get some here. But for now, Coke is it.