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  • Acumen Learning

New Coke: Good or Bad Idea

After Training Resources


CONSIDER THIS… ​ In 1985 Coca-Cola did the unthinkable - they changed their formula to challenge Pepsi's surge in the marketplace . It didn't go over too well. Thousands-upon-thousands of furious customers called Coca-Cola demanding that they bring back their old Coke. Letters were sent to the CEO, Roberto Goizueta, addressing him as, "Dear Mr. Dodo…" To celebrate, Pepsi gave their employees the day off - they figured they had won the cola wars. And to this day, Coke's formula change is regarded as one of the worst business decisions of all time. But was it? ​ Coca-Cola's executives moved fast. Within 79 days they announced the return of original Coca-Cola. So not only did Coca-Cola take a risk with New Coke, they took, quite possibly, a greater risk… admitting that they got it wrong. It worked! Since 1985 Coca-Cola has been the #1 cola in the US and around the world (today Pepsi's not even close).


"If you take risks, you may still fail; if you do not take risks, you will surely fail. The greatest risk of all is to do nothing."

Roberto Goizueta, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company: 1980-1997


Acumen in Action™

Watch the 1985 New Coke video as a team and then discuss the following:

  1. What did Coca-Cola get right, what did they get wrong?