I recently found this page of Coca-Cola advertising slogans down the years. Coke is regularly held up to be a leading light in advertising trends, so I thought we should take a look at some of their successes and failures...
1886: Drink Coca-Cola
This is how advertising should be. "Smoke tabs; Eat chips; Drink beer". They just tell you what to do. People were easily led in those days.
1900: For headache and exhaustion, drink Coca-Cola
I'd rather not be headachey and tired, thanks very much.
1904: Coca-Cola is a delightful, palatable, healthful beverage
Not so much an advertising slogan as a hastily prepared defence against FDA charges.
1905: Drink a bottle of carbonated Coca-Cola
Oh, it's all gone wrong here. They've remembered the direct simplicity of the first slogan, but then they've overcomplicated it. No rhythm; it's not snappy. And if you have the word "carbonated" in your strap-line you've gone seriously wrong.
1905: The favorite drink for ladies when thirsty, weary, and despondent
This is one of my favourites. Yes, it cures thirstiness, of course. It's a drink, isn't it?! I think most drinks would cure thirstiness, except perhaps brine. Weariness - well, it cures that too due to its fizzy sparkle, sugar, cocaine and other ingerdients. But despondency? And it's despondent women who are targeted in particular.
1908: Sparkling - harmless as water, and crisp as frost
1908: The satisfactory beverage
Oh dear. The advertising copywriter was having a bad day when he came up with this one. His boss must have been livid. He's been asked to come up with a line to sell Coca-Cola to potential purchasers. What could he have come up with? "The fantastic beverage"? "The stupendous beverage". "The superb beverage". But no. "Satisfactory". Bllimey - why didn't he just say "mundane", "ordinary" or "tolerable" instead - it would amount to the same thing.
1909: Whenever you see an arrow think of Coca-Cola
Errr... What? I'm not quite sure if this is aimed at Native Americans or just archers in general. Either way, it would be most off-putting when drawing back the bowstring.
1914: Nicknames encourage substitutions
Now this is just getting silly.
1925: Stop at the red sign and refresh yourself
A bit impractical this one. It could lead to people trying to buy drinks from their local post office or fire station.
1934: Ice-cold Coca-Cola is everywhere else - it ought to be in your family refrigerator
Woah! The fridge door is open and all the Coca-Cola has escaped. Quickly - round it up and get it back in there...
1934: When it's hard to get started, Start with a Coca-Cola
OK let's analyze this. It's hard to get started. So start with a Coca-Cola. But it's hard to get started, so how do you drink the Coke? Is this one of those Zen riddles designed to make you think about how the world works?
1942: Wherever you are, whatever you do, wherever you may be, when you think refreshment, think ice-cold Coca-Cola
Too long. You wouldn't remember it all. It's the total opposite of 'snappy'. And it reminds me of that song, 'Together'.
1960: Relax with Coke 1960: Revive with Coke
So in 1960 they really couldn't decide if Coke was relaxing or stimulating. Apparently both at the same time. Which really means that it mus be neither and any effect it has on you must simply be psychosomatic and influenced by advertising.
1966: Coke...after Coke...after Coke
No. Stop. No more Coke. What is this? Some sort of torture. I'm going to burst!
1971: I'd like to buy the world a Coke
The world. One coke. 4 billion people (or however many it was 36 years ago). Well, that's very cheap of you. Unless it's a very, very big bottle.
1976: Coke adds life
Is it an urban myth that this slogan was translated into Mandarin for use in China, but it came out as "Coke brings your relatives back from the dead"? I'm sure I read it at the time, so it must be true.