The Coca Cola Company allows production of "Coca Cola Classic"
By John Thavis Coca Cola News Service
ATLANTA (CNS) -- In a long-awaited overture to disaffected soda traditionalists, the president of the Coca Cola Company allowed limited production of "Coca Cola Classic," the original formula soft drink which was recently replaced by New Coke.
The president said the Classic formula should be made available in to consumers who desire it. He said that while New Coke, introduced a few months ago, will remain the flagship product of the brand, Classic Coke should be considered "the extraordinary form of the Coca Cola product."
This reintroduction implies no failure of the New Coke production and marketing plan, but simply "two variations on the one flagship Coca Cola product." The president's directive came July 7 in a four-page letter to bottlers titled "Introducing Coca Cola Classic." The old formula will begin appearing in bottles and cans--not in fountains--Sept. 14. An accompanying personal letter from the president dismissed fears that the decisions would foment divisions among Coke drinkers or be seen as a retreat from the New Coke campaign.
The president said New Coke would certainly remain the company's predominant product. Drinking Coca Cola Classic presupposes a certain degree of sophistication and traditional preferences and "neither of these is found very often," he said. But the president expressed sympathy with consumers who are attached to the old Coke formula and uncomfortable with New Coke.
In the period since the introduction of New Coke, he said, excessive, Pepsi-like sweetness often led to "unfinished bottles and unsatisfactory mixes with rum and bourbon which were hard to bear.""I am speaking from experience, since I, too, lived through that period with all its hopes and confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary changes in the formula caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the old formula," he said.
The president noted that many older consumers have a long connection with the Classic formula. But in recent years, he said, it has been clearly demonstrated that young people are also attracted by the old formula.
By widening its availability, the president said, he hoped to make the new and old Coca Cola formulas "mutually enriching."
The old formula has been hoarded and bottled by small, out-of-the-way bottlers since shortly after the introduction of the new formula, but customers had to make special trips--often hundreds of miles and beg bottlers for it, who did not always consent.
...[T]he new policy did not explicitly state that those buying Coca Cola Classic were also expected to buy New Coke. The company said that crossover purchasers would be presumed, however.
He emphasized that although the new formula was designed to replace the old formula, the old formula was "never formally abandoned." Its restoration as an extraordinary product thus does not undermine the company's decisions with respect to New Coke, he said.
"There is no contradiction between the two formulas. In the history of our company there is growth and progress, but no rupture," he said."What earlier generations held as a good product remains such, and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful," he said.