The curious case of New Coke

One of the most interesting conspiracy theories related to a commercial product is surely the one related to New Coke .

The mystery began in 1985, when The Coca-Cola Company decided to risk a lot on a commercial level, putting on the market a totally new drink, which would soon replace the famous Coca-Cola. The new product should have given new impetus to the brand in an increasingly competitive market threatened by fierce competitors: for this reason the company decided to make the first real change in the formulation of its flagship product for 99 years, thus launching the New Coke.

The launch of New Coke

The new recipe was decided on the basis of tests carried out on a sample of about 200,000 subjects; this type of operation always involves a percentage of failure but that time the result was totally unexpected, not only due to the failure of the launch operation of the new "New Coke" product but above all because customers loyal to the classic Coca-Cola do not they just ignored the new product ... they protested loudly that their favorite drink was "saved"!

Upon hearing the news of the change in the formulation of the classic Coca-Cola, many consumers rushed to stock up on their favorite drink for years to come, and according to the Coca-Cola Company itself, many phoned the company to protest and apparently there were people who fell into depression over the launch of New Coke. Even protest groups were formed and many demonstrated with the slogan "We want the real thing": in short, consumers did not accept the change from Coca-Cola to New Coke.

The result of all this was obviously that because of New Coke the public attention was focused on Coca-Cola as never before.

New Coke vs Coca-Cola classic

The return of the classic Coca-Cola

About three months after the launch of New Coke, the return of the old formulation was promoted, under the name of "Coca-Cola classic". The protests ceased and finally the most loyal consumers were able to go back to drinking their favorite drink. In reality, the new product was proposed for a few more years, addressing it to a younger audience; it was later renamed "Coke II" but was eventually abandoned for good.

Was New Coke knowingly created with the intent of getting a fiasco?

There is a conspiracy theory that has New Coke as its subject and that essentially supports this: The Coca-Cola Company deliberately created this product to not appeal to consumers, in order to rekindle attention on their brand.

In reality, according to conspiracy theorists, this scheme would have allowed the company to obtain important results:

  • make consumers fall in love again with their product, with the threat of eliminating it from the market;
  • create a great media hype around the brand, thanks to the protests of the public;
  • win against the main competitor (Pepsi), who had been putting the company in difficulty for years;

According to some rumors, the company also switched from the use of cane sugar to that of High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS); some consumers in fact claimed that the "Coca-Cola classic" was sweeter.

New Coke: just a commercial fiasco?

Naturally The Coca-Cola Company rejects this reconstruction and instead calmly admits that The curious case of New Coke was merely a commercial fiasco.

Whatever the truth, this story certainly solidified Coke's success for years to come.


"Catch the wave."
Slogan for New Coke (1986)


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Cover image by Jetijonez

Article image 1 by Ben Franske

Article image 2 by Сергей Мельников

article by: Paolo

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