During those years, Coca-Cola was already the king. But seeing how Pepsi managed to get ahold of some market shares here and there, the notorious soda firm decided to react in the boldest way possible.
How ? By launching a new product ? No. By changing to current one. This was indeed an epic fail as a poll showed that barely 13% of drinkers liked the new recipe.
The New Coke was apparently too sweet compared to the previous one, and that led the consumers to being angry, not just upset. As a result, a plethora of campaigns led by passionate were launched to bring the old product back.
Pepsi, as always, saw this as an opportunity to twist the knife with an ad featuring a girl asking :
“Somebody out there tell me why Coke did it? Why did Coke change?”
Roger Enrico, PepsiCo’s CEO back in 1985 ,even added :
“These two products, Pepsi and Coke, have been going at it eyeball to eyeball, and in my view the other guy just blinked”
At this point, Coca-Cola had no other choice but to bring the good’ol original drink back, along with a commercial featuring Donald Keough, the longtime president of the company :
“”We’re bringing it back, the original taste of Coca-Cola returns as Coca-Cola Classic and soon America will have a real choice: the new taste of Coke or the original taste of Coca-Cola Classic”
In spite of positive feedback during nationwide taste tests, the New Coke’s 1985 launch was ended within weeks. To get back to what worked, Coke gave its original soft drink formula the name Coca-Cola Classic.
The Lesson: Even though a sample size of customers may tell you one thing, you may get a different result when you do a full product launch. Maybe people just couldn’t bring themselves to accept New Coke after decades of the original Coke formula.