May 1, 2023
During the 1970’s and the 1980’s, Coke found itself losing more and more of its market share to Pepsi. Pepsi had launched a successful marketing campaign known as the “Pepsi Challenge” and it was giving the New York based company the momentum it needed.
You can still find some of these humorous old commercials on YouTube. The “Challenge” was for a consumer to put on a blindfold and try both Pepsi and Coke. Then they would tell the host which one they thought tasted better. Pepsi overwhelmingly came out on top. The same results were found in Coke’s own focus groups and internal testing.
On April 23, 1985, Coke made a bold move. They discontinued the original formula of Coke that had made them the best-selling cola in the world for ninety-nine years and introduced a new formula that was supposedly “sweeter, rounder, yet bolder.” Coke was confident this decision would once again propel them to be the most beloved soda pop in the world. Coke president Donald Keough bragged, “I’ve never been as confident about a decision as I am about the one we’re announcing today.”
Unfortunately, the press and public disagreed. Over the coming weeks Coke’s stock crashed, while just the opposite, Pepsi’s stock price climbed. As Pepsi was taking victory laps, Coke’s headquarters began receiving 5,000 angry phone calls a day. That number eventually grew to 8,000 calls a day. The company had to hire extra operators just to field all of the complaints. Protests were organized where people were pouring out their Cokes in storm drains and sewers.
Seventy-nine days after the change, Coke brought back the original recipe. In no time at all, it went back to the front of the Cola pack and passed up Pepsi in sales. When asked about the huge blunder, Keough said, “The simple fact is that all the time and money and skill poured into consumer research on the new Coke could not measure or reveal the deep and abiding emotional attachment to original Coke felt by so many people.”
Great leaders understand that if they want to be legendary, if they want to leave a legacy that lasts, they can be open to change methods, but MUST remain true to the mission or the message God has given them. Coke made a big mistake. Instead of changing marketing or messaging, they changed the very thing that made them Coke. As a result, they lost the customer base they already had.
Ed Cole has a great quote, “In matters of principle stand as firm as a rock. In matters of taste learn to bend like a reed in the wind.” Many leaders waste time and energy fighting with teams and consultants over things that don’t really matter. They micro-manage and get bogged down in details, while forgetting the most important things. The things that make them who they are.
Let me encourage you—hold fast to the core values, character traits, and mission God has given you. Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” describes the best leaders in business, “Level 5 Leaders” as having an “indomitable will.” In another of his books, “Beyond Entrepreneurship,” he explains it further. He says this “indomitable will” refers to the strength to stay true to who you are regardless of the circumstances. Level 5 leaders are secure in their identity and are intentional about protecting the things that make them unique. They won’t let anything or anyone change “the original” God made them to be!
You Were Born an Original, Don’t Die a Copy! By John Mason
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COTR Marketplace Ministries is a ministry for those in the marketplace and those interested in starting a business. Lifelong learners, entrepreneurs, and business owners meet to grow in their leadership and skills. This is a great place to network, build relationships and exchange ideas!
JJoin us on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 5pm in the main campus lobby. We will have guest speaker, Jody Mayberry, podcast co-host with former Executive Vice President for Walt Disney World Resorts. His years of helping others to build and create compelling content for podcasts continues to open many doors in marketing and communication strategy.
We have added a unique avenue to share your business through displaying your product(s) or service(s). For $60 you can reserve a table where you will be able to tell others about the services you provide and sell those services and/or products. We will open this 45 minutes before and 30 minutes after the Marketplace dinner to display your business.
Dinner and childcare are included in the price of your ticket. Purchase your tickets online for just $12 or $15 at the door.