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Coca-Cola had humble beginnings.
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Created by pharmacist Dr. John Styth Pemberton in his backyard on May 8, 1886, the concoction of caramel-colored syrup was tested as a soda fountain drink sold for five cents a glass at the largest drug store in Atlanta, Jacob’s Pharmacy.
His bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, suggested the name Coca-Cola and created the unique cursive logo that has been the trademark ever since.
Pemberton planned to add a shot of cold, carbonated water to the syrup mixture. By May 29, 1886 the first Coca-Cola ad appeared in the Atlanta Journal on the patent medicine page.
Dr. Pemberton, however, became ill soon after this, threatening the continuation of the business.
Sales plummeted throughout the rest of that year, but Robinson’s faith in Coca-Cola’s potential kept the business going. Robinson concluded that the people simply didn’t know what they were missing because it hadn’t been advertised.
He was right!
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By June of 1887 the Coca-Cola trademark had been patented through the U. S. Patent Office and the product was gaining wider distribution. In 1888, Asa G. Candler, an Atlanta businessman and druggist, purchased the rights to the product and later formed the corporation “The Coca-Cola Company.” Candler firmly believed in the importance of advertising.
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He distributed thousands of complimentary tickets for free glasses of Coca-Cola. He also pushed promoting the beverage on outdoor posters, calendars, soda fountain urns, and even wall murals (a precursor to the nationwide use of billboards in 1925).
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His philosophy was to stimulate the desire for Coca-Cola in as many ways and as much as possible, and then have it readily available everywhere.
Coca-Cola Company’s initial public offering (IPO) — Coca-Cola went public in 1919 — September 5, 1919 to be precise. Their stock was traded on the NYSE under the symbol (COKE) when the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929.
Today, Coca-Cola trades under the stock ticker symbol (KO) and its Coca-Cola Bottling trades under (COKE).
Coca-Cola’s stock closed at $128.375 (down -8.625) on October 29, 1929.
If you owned just 1 share of its stock when it went public, adjusted for stock splits, you would currently have 4,608 shares which would be worth $289,152.00 as of March 18, 2011.
Unfortunately, the good fortune of America came to a screeching halt upon the stock market crash of 1929.
The Great Depression ensued and people of all classes suffered the disastrous economic blow that would last more than ten years. Before the crash occurred in 1929 the famous slogan “The Pause that Refreshes” made its debut in The Saturday Evening Post. The company launched this campaign under the commonly accepted assumption that men and women work better if given a few breaks in their work day. Coca-Cola’s per capita consumption doubled that year. But the reality of the depression threatened to decrease sales.
Coca Cola Stock Price on October 29 1929
It controlled every aspect of American life.
However, the pleasant fantasy land of Coca-Cola advertisements remained untouched. Coca-Cola continued to present happy scenes of “everyday” American life.
An ad in the August 3, 1935 issue of the Saturday Evening Post showed a pleasant man probably in his thirties having a Coca-Cola on his way to work to help him “start the morning feeling fit.” His immaculate dress suit and gleaming smile deny any existence of a national depression.
He holds the morning paper with confidence, as if it contains only good news. He lacks any worries or cares at all. Quite an unrealistic depiction of America at the time, but this scene represented the “real” America to the people.
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As a population they yearned for a return to this way of life, the way things used to be. Coca-Cola advertisements provided an escape from the realities of the depression into an idealized reality of America.
People bought it. It assured them that there would be a return to normalcy.
About Coca Cola
Coca-Cola (often shortened to Coke) is a carbonated soft drink that was first introduced in 1886.
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Since then Coca-Cola has grown to become one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The Coca-Cola company has a long line of flavored beverages, some of the most popular being: Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Coca-Cola Cherry and Coca-Cola Vanilla.
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John Styth Pemberton, Frank Robinson, IPO, KO, October 29 1929, Saturday Evening Post, Stock Split, The Coca-Cola Company