Coca Cola A Tale Of Global Dominance Commerce Essay


Coming up for a topic for this assignment started off as a struggle until an awning with the Coca-Cola logo caught my eye. For some reason that awning made me remember my trip to South America in 2006. I pondered on why an American company would make me remember a South America as opposed to localized landmarks or businesses. I came to the realization that Coca-Cola is the epitome of American influence over the world and globalization. There is not a topic more deserving for this assignment than Coca-Cola's history.

"In May, 1886, Coca-Cola was invented by Doctor John Pemberton a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia. John Pemberton concocted the Coca Cola formula in a three legged brass kettle in his backyard. The name was a suggestion given by John Pemberton's book keeper Frank Robinson." [1] According to The Globalist, Robert Goizueta, who was once the CEO of the Coca-Cola Company once said "A billion hours ago, human life appeared on earth. A billion minutes ago, Christianity emerged. A billion seconds ago, the Beatles changed music. A billion Coca-Colas ago was yesterday morning." [2] The Coca-Cola Company has become a global behemoth selling its products in every country around the world. Accenting to this status has made the Coca-Cola Company the poster child for Globalization.

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"Dr. Pemberton never realized the potential of the beverage he created. He gradually sold portions of his business to various partners and, just prior to his death in 1888, sold his remaining interest in Coca-Cola to Asa G. Candler." [3] "Over the course of three years, 1888-1891, Pemberton sold the Company to Atlanta businessman Asa Griggs Candler for a total of about $2300." [4] Asa Candler transformed Coca-Cola from an invention to a business. In 1892, The Coca-Cola Company was formed and in 1895 Candler announced to shareholders in an annual report "'Coca-Cola is now drunk in every state and territory in the United States.'" [5] 

The growth can be attributed to Candler's brilliant and innovative marketing techniques. "He gave away coupons for complimentary first tastes of Coca-Cola, and outfitted distributing pharmacists with clocks, urns, calendars and apothecary scales bearing the Coca-Cola brand. People saw Coca-Cola everywhere, and the aggressive promotion worked." [6] The soda's popularity led to bottling. In 1894, Joseph Biedenharn, a Mississippi businessman, became the first to bottle Coca-Cola.

Biedenharn sent 12 of his bottles to Candler who responded without enthusiasm. Candler did not realize that the success of Coca-Cola would be its portability and in 1899 sold exclusive rights for bottling and selling Coca-Cola for the sum of one dollar. Through the 1900s, Coca-Cola established itself in Cuba, Panama, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam. [7] 

The earliest attempt of globalization by the Coca-Cola Company was in 1900, "when Charles Howard Candler, eldest son of Asa Candler, took a jug of syrup with him on vacation to England. A modest order for five gallons of syrup was mailed back to Atlanta." [8] But between 1900 and 1920 global growth did not take precedence until the leadership of Robert Woodruff. "Woodruff was a marketing genius who saw opportunities for expansion everywhere. He captivated foreign markets with innovative campaigns: Coca-Cola traveled with the U.S. team to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, the logo was emblazoned on racing dog sleds in Canada and the walls of bullfighting arenas in Spain. Woodruff pushed development and distribution of the six-pack, the open top cooler, and all innovations that made it easier for people to drink Coca-Cola." [9] 

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By the start of World War II Coke was being enjoyed in over 44 countries. [10] The rationing of sugar during World-War II prevented the company from operating at full capacity, but World-War II helped the company in cementing its name around the globe. Woodruff in 1941 wanted "to see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company." [11] 

[The effort to supply the armed forces with Coke launched when an urgent cablegram arrived from General Dwight Eisenhower's Allied Headquarters in North Africa. This cablegram dated June 29, 1943, requested shipment of materials and equipment for 10 bottling plants. "Prefaced by the directive that the shipments were not to replace other military cargo, the cablegram also requested shipment of 3 million filled bottles of Coca-Cola, along with supplies for producing the same quantity twice monthly.

Within six months, a Company engineer had flown to Algiers and opened the first plant, the forerunner of 64 bottling plants shipped abroad during World War II. The plants were set up as close as possible to combat areas in Europe and the Pacific. More than 5 billion bottles of Coke were consumed by military service personnel during the war, in addition to countless servings through dispensers and mobile, self-contained units in battle areas."

But the presence of Coca-Cola did more than just lift the morale of the troops. In many areas, it gave local people their first taste of Coca-Cola - a taste they obviously enjoyed. And when peace returned, the Coca-Cola system was poised for unprecedented worldwide growth. From the mid-1940s until 1960, the number of countries with bottling operations nearly doubled. As the world emerged from a time of conflict, Coca-Cola emerged as a worldwide symbol of friendship and refreshment.] [12] 

Today, Coca-Cola earns most of its revenue outside of the United States. Foreign consumption in 2009 accounted for 78% of Coca-Cola's total company unit case volume. [13] However as a multinational corporation The Coca-Cola Company has found criticism. Coca-Cola has been accused of environmental destruction in third-world countries, exploitative labor practices, hiring paramilitary units to murder trade union leaders, and monopolistic business practices.

Environmental destruction in the form of depletion of the local ground water table by the company poses a serious threat to many communities. According to an article by Nityanand Jayaraman in 2002, the Hindustan Coca Cola factory would draw 1.5 million liters/day from the common groundwater resource in Plachimada, a small village in Kerala, India. [14] Coca-Cola ran the wells dry in that village displacing those that resided there. In March 2004, local officials shut down the 16 million dollar Coke bottling plant. [15] According to The Coca-Cola Company in 2004 for every liter of Coca-Cola produced 3.91liters of water is used. [16] In 2007, Coca-Cola reduced its usage to 3.66 liters of water for every liter of Coke. [17] 

Another issue Coca-Cola faces is the accusation of exploitive labor practices