It's been 35 years since the launch of New Coke and we're still talking about it. What has been labeled one of the greatest product failures in corporate history, has actually been grossly mislabeled. It's actually the greatest story of a corporate pivot that I've ever heard. Within 12 days of launch, the company shifted gears and within 77 days they were able to introduce coke classic and create a significant boost to sales. The sales boost was so high that some people at the time even speculated that the new coke failure was done on purpose to draw attention to coke classic. This is an incredible story that rewards not taking long established tales at face value and getting curious about what really happened.
6 things to know about today's guest Sergio Zyman:
- He was named one of the Top Three marketing pitchmen of the 20th century by Time magazine.
- He created New Coke, as well as diet coke, cherry coke, and coke classic.
- He was influential in the positioning and development of the strategy that resulted in the election of former Mexican President Vicente Fox.
- He left coke in 1988 as a result of new leadership, and was persuaded to come back in 1993 to hold the first Chief Marketing Officer position ever created in any company.
- Sergio re-conceptualized the company's marketing strategy and boosted worldwide annual sales from nine to 15 billion cases--the most explosive growth in the company's history.
- He is the author of 4 books including the international bestseller, The End of Marketing As We Know It.
- Sergio and I discuss:How the story of New Coke is actually an incredible success story and the tale of the best corporate pivot of all time
- Why innovation is a lazy move for most companies
- How companies develop blindspots,
- And we debate whether marketing is a penalty you pay for having a product that doesn't solve a problem.
Thanks for listening and be sure to find me online to tell me what you thought of the episode!