If I say ‘carbonated soft drink’, what is the first beverage that comes to mind? If you answered ‘Coca-Cola’ (and the chances are very good that will be the case), you have our birthday star, Asa Griggs Candler (30 Dec 1851 -12 Mar 1929) to thank.
Candler was an American marketer and manufacturer, who took the Coca-Cola soft drink invented in 1886 by pharmacist John “Doc” Pemberton, and turned it into the biggest carbonated beverage in the world. When Pemberton died, Candler bought his secret formula, and proceeded to invest obscene amounts of money ($50k per year – a crazy investment at the time) into the advertising of his product. His goal was to move Coca-Cola from a local beverage, sold from a soda fountain, to a bottled, national drink.
His efforts were hugely successful, and his beverage became a national hit, but the success brought with it numerous copy-cats – producers who sold similar looking beverages, with similar names (only different enough to avoid patent infringement cases). His solution to this was another stroke of marketing genius – patenting a uniquely shaped bottle. The shape of the Coke bottle became an integral part of its marketing campaigns, successfully differentiating it from other, similar cola beverages.
Candler was president of the Coca-Cola company for almost 30 years (1887-1916) and under his leadership Coke cemented it’s cult status among carbonated soft drinks. Relentless and intense marketing and advertising remained the backbone of Coca-Cola’s success, even after Candler’s death, and to this day no other soft drink has been able to come close to Coca-Cola’s level of market dominance.