Down the Ballot

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Something Sweet and Bad for you from 1985

The first adventure in 1985 takes us to not a great revolution or amazing feat of human ingenuity, but
of a simple creation made for convenience and easy profit. Yes. Cherry Coke. Every soda shop, cafe, restaurant and even homemakers had been making their own unofficial cherry flavored Coca-Cola for decades before 1985. All it required was either cherry syrup or actual cherries. In 1985 that changed forever. Coca-Cola, one of the largest soda manufactures in the world released two new drinks. The classic coke was given a formula makeover and a snazzy ad campaign featuring Bill Cosby. Cherry Coke was unleashed at the same time. New Coke failed to win over consumers and loyal coke-a-holics, while you can still find Cherry Coke on store shelves all over the world today.

Of all the days they had to choose to make the biggest blunder of their company's history, it just had to be on my birthday. Even Bill Cosby couldn't hawk New Coke fast enough to make it popular. It is hard to gauge what Coca-Cola would like you to forget more now: New Coke or Bill Cosby. While New Coke barely lasted three months, Cherry Coke caught on with consumers. And why wouldn't it? People had been drinking it for years. Most of us, when we think long and hard about it wonder: 'WHY DIDN'T THEY DO THIS DECADES AGO??'

They marketed Cherry Coke as 'outrageous' and 'wild' to appeal to young people. One of the first commercials was based partly on Back to the Future.





You might recognize a young Victoria Jackson in the ad. The driver, goes back in time to the 50s and takes a sip of Cherry Coke, and then likes it so much he brings it forward in time to the 80s and then to the year 2000.

Another ad, is more stereotypical of what we like to remember 80s commercials as; lots of neon, catchy theme song, people dancing for no reason etc.



While we all probably drink a little more of this stuff than we should, I do associate it with some fond memories growing up and visiting a small rural community in Polk County named Buell. The Buell county park is dedicated to both my 3rd and 4th great-grandfathers on my moms side of the family. They both died in the 1870s. There use to be a small convenience store right up the road from the park off Hwy 22. We would go up there on the 4th of July for a family party and an older cousin would usually accompany us up to the store to buy a glass bottle of coke. The park is still there, but the store burned to the ground sometime in the mid-90s.

There will be more goodies from 1985 to come, this one just struck me as an interesting contrast. Two products so similar, released the same year and yet the results were dramatically different. One lasted 3 months and the other has endured 30 years with even more flavor combinations with cherry created since. More proof for companies that you shouldn't mess with what works. Think of all the time and money they could have saved if they had just spent the year preparing to market Cherry Coke. Go out and enjoy the cherry flavored drink of your choice (just don't enjoy too much).

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