The exceptional Brother, Brother, Brother music podcast did a soundtracks episode.
Not to be missed – give it a listen:
The exceptional Brother, Brother, Brother music podcast did a soundtracks episode.
Not to be missed – give it a listen:
In my humble opinion, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” (1982) could be one of the most intellectually provocative rock ‘n’ roll films I’ve ever seen. The album as a soundtrack to a film was deep in meaning and introduced the world Bob Geldof, of the Boomtown Rats, who plays a young boy, Pink, whose father died in the WW II. The film is similar to Tommy, who is channeling the British reconstruction postwar imagination. The Wall’s Composer/Director Roger Waters (a founding Pink Floyd band member) following in Townsends logic of some type of rock opera or rock animated film, is where the story of Pink and his search for A connection, some emotion or recognition.
The Wall is the story of a boy who becomes a famous rock ‘n’ roll star who then finds himself depressed, his girlfriend cheating on him and the only way out is becoming the leader of Third Reich type neo-Nazi organization.
Pink finds himself as the leader of the children, who use music for power and that’s Roger Water’s story of The Wall. It’s all a provocative fantasy in Pink and Water’s head. Again with great rock ‘n’ roll soundtracks comes the mixture of teen angst, raw sexuality sexual expression. In The Wall, teens are bullied by British strict professors that don’t allow them to have any creative freedom or any artistic freedom because their mother-like wives pressure those same educators.
The kids have to fight to have their freedom of expression and part of the musical expression is expressing themselves sexually. That sexual context is mostly brought forth through animation and a nod to 1970’s Monty Python like Basque women who are pollinated by roving flowers which could be the young men of the 1980s generation who are looking for love/mother because they didn’t get any love from their mother. Again we see Waters expressing what him and the band grapple with and want to articulate onscreen. Their music is choreographed to animation, live-action and futuristic expression of a world driven by hammers, barbed wire and broken glass under their feet with intention towards changing society’s rules and norms. The Wall is mesmerizing as it is mysterious and it allows audiences to make up their own mind on how to use the music and lyrics in their lives.
There are some sneaking comparisons to 24 Hour Party People (2002, like the neo-Nazi movement in the UK that flares us every time the Labor party makes strides or the labor unions strike to try improve their economic situation. They obscure Joy Division’s fame and create a poor image of the young adults wanting artistic expression. But opposite of The Wall who looks back, 24 Hour Party People looked forward at how society had to move on from the post war industrial society that was impacted by the early 1989 financial crash in the UK and the Eastern European move towards openness. 24 Hour Party People is the story about Tony Wilson, who created the Manchester tech-rock music scene and wanted to be a rock imprassario no matter what it took. With his influence Manchester went to “Madchester”, it was the early 1980s to early 1990s, which was a very hedonistic time in British music because of the impact of the recession on English manufacturing.
The recession impacted cities like Manchester and rural UK cites, that began to lose manufacturing business. This gave young people angst combined with a music show that was produced by Grenada TV in Manchester and Hosted by Wilson that drove musicians to try to develop their careers in the punk genre. Artist like Joy Divison, who went on to become New Order, A Certain Ration, The Durutti Column and the Happy Mondays were connected to society by the amount of fear and the punk movement, so their music had meaning.
The malaise of not having jobs engaged their fans and we’re looking for an escape, which came through ecstasy and marijuana. That drug pull created a decadent club scene. Joy Division, The Happy Mondays spawned bands like The Farm, EMF and 808 State who expressed feeling of anxious and oppression against society, that they were being left out left behind. 24 Hour Party People music represented rock ‘n’ roll music as the escapism of the rave party lifestyle. The film placed little values on relationships between, husband & wives, artists & managers, even bands and their fans.
What was unique about 24 hour Party People, is while the music scenes, the music artists and the bands were all real people – it was a story of the life and times of a journalist who largely builds his career off the music scene he instills. He is played by Steve Coogan, a very successful actor in England and all historical people a played by actors, even a few cameos by the real participants where in the film. While more straightforward, Pink Floyd’s The Wall has Geldof inhabit Water’s musical personality and with the help of Bob Hoskins in a cameo and other actors they convey The Wall’s attitude of depression. But similar to A Hard Days Night, and Purple Rain, music as art and the ironic comedic style in a film help portray a story that revolves around a real music scene.
The 80’s and 90s had an explosion of rock and roll due to the advance of technology. With the Walkman, MTV and CDs it allowed for artists to expand their impact on the community faster than albums and radio did.
But nothing advanced the creation of an artist with more impact that the film – Purple Rain (1984) was the modern generation of rock and soul about the innovative stylings of Price and the Revolution. The Commitments (1991) was the celebration of the rock and souls revolution by black artists in the late 1960s that impacted the culture of Ireland 30 years later.
Prince more than used rock and roll to express himself, he used rock and roll to create himself. When looking at Purple Rain, one of the themes is that love is expressed through music and that emotion can be suppressed by music. It’s a double-edged sword of love. The father cares so much about the mother but is so conflicted because of his musical failure. Prince is conflicted with his friends because his infatuation for Apollonia is so intense. He plays it all out on stage hoping to change her feelings for him.
Love is a many splendored thing sometimes it is a splintered tool. And anyone who has had a splinter does not remove it can cause infection, and fester. Festering is his parent’s relationship. Yet, Prince sees his future, and understands that he can’t just live in his own little world. He has to allow women his world with you. Lisa, Apollonia and his mother impact how he sees love and he sees passion doesn’t have to be violent like in his home.
Another fascinating aspect of Purple Rain is how a subset of rock that existed in Minneapolis. Morris Day & The Time, Prince & The Revolution and Apollonia 6 were showcased at venues that were leading sort of this cultural revolution where technology, techno music, keyboards and synthesizers are tools for rock ‘n’ roll not the replacement of the guitar and the drums. By mixing the two – rock and techno it creates a cultural revolution like Prince and The Revolution. Second, it is that this cultural revolution of concert attendees with face painting, skinny mirrored glasses, earrings , laces – all were really the alternative lifestyle coming out it’s black-and-white history to a world of color where music students express that cultural change in song.
The Commitments was film that equally loved the music stylings of rock and soul. It was a film the brought a new meaning to the working class rock image of Ireland where everyone was doing what they could just to make a buck. And The Commitments was a band willing to risk its personality to become a success. But in the strive for celebrity and adoration, the rock standards of sex and ego stands in the way of their pursuits.
The band comes together as the brainchild of the movies lead, Jimmy, the manager. In his hope for fame, he tries valientley to mix a unique group on want to be, established and utterly confused musicians. He builds what can be and looks by ¾ of the way through the film, going to be, a successful group that has its finger on bring back the classic. Yet Joey The Lips Fagan putting his lips on all three Committmentettes, the back up signers, is the straw that breaks the camel back in the band trusting their growth as musicians. Here the love expressed and fame wanted is what drives the artist to compete for the attention. That competition undoes the band in the film.
The film reinforces the fact that rock and roll can create celebrity. In June of 1990, Director Alan Parker travelled to Dublin and placed an advertisement in the magazine Hot Press, requesting young artists to audition for roles in the film. Parker wanted actors who could play a musical instrument and resembled the characters from the novel. Similar to Purple Rain and its array of bands, The Commitments had its array artists put on display. They put their emotion on display in more ways than one.
The soundtrack still drives the films interest. A key song for the film Treat Her Right Written by Gene Kurtz and Roy Head Performed by Robert Arkins, with Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle, Bronagh Gallagher and Andrew Strong. Artists were having success to the point where the Special features on DVD include, a music video for the song “Treat Her Right”. Many of the actors/artists went on to pursue various acting and musical careers.
To this day, most Americans who were influenced by Prince’s arrival, their first connection to him was though Purple Rain. The film and album was considered a masterpiece and sold 1.5 Million in its debut week in 1984.While only a modest success with North American audiences, The Commitments has since been regarded as a cult film, and one of the best Irish films ever made. The Commitments was present for a total of 76 weeks on the Billboard 200, and peaked at number 8.
Both these films created a mood and aura during 1980 -90’s where anything is possible it your take a chance, put the in the effort and let the movie going audience share you with society.
Interesting to note that Riff-Raff in Rocky Horror Picture Show and Riff Randell in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School could both be an homage to Riff, the tough talking side-kick to neighborhood leader Tony in West Side Story, the 1961 Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins masterpiece. It too is story when music helps one find love during strife. Riff-Raff and Riff Randell are two sides of the same coin. Youth of today, flip that coin and choose.
As a punk as heart who loves counter culture, I want to reflect a little bit about Rocky Horror Picture show (1975) because, for over 40 years it has been a cultural phenomenon. What started out as an off Broadway kitschy, play in the late 70s that talked about risqué topics like transvestites, transsexuals and homosexuality gave it all license to be exposed. Then mixed that with the 70s cultural presence of UFOs that had the mainstream audiences attention. But went further adding the creating some type of homage to the great science fiction and horror pictures of the 40’s and 50s like Frankenstein, King Kong and Rear Window to create a fantasy world caught between real life and the movies. Thanks to Producer Lou Adler, a well known record producer, Rocky Horror (as it was referred to)
became known as a provocative work of rock theatrics music, intense choreography, innovative costumes, film retrospective lighting and an acerbic comedy lounge that all tied together to represent the decadent American seventies.
When we first see Susan Sarandon’s – Janet and Brian Bostwick’s – Brad at the wedding scene, look closely to see Tim Curry as the minister and other characters playing out the American Gothic in the background.
The fun graffiti on the car is much more overly sexual than one would expect. But it’s with the repeated viewings that the attendees of the wedding are realized as the same guests in Dr. Frank N Furters castle. This creating a dream like state of the characters and gets the audience questioning: is this reality or fantasy? All the while, this film has been perplexing movie goers. Most revel in the original music and the bizarre ritual of film attendees to act out and talk back to the screen; throw toast, use noisemakers and many other carnival like actions, to enhance the experience. Thirty-five years that has been going on!
When you take a look at the film Rocky Horror itself, it is very low cost “indie production” shot in England all done on a studio back lot to minimize costs. Creative costs were controlled – hired the playwright to be the film’s scriptwriter, as well as the composer and the choreographer. It’s because they could – all due to Richard O’Brien.
He did a tremendous job in all those positions. But went one step farther as the second lead in the film. He visually articulated the sort of creepy image/imagination of what could happen to conventional early 1960’s young couple when they take a wrong turn. His performance in character as Riff-Raff, added to Magenta and Columbia, all crafted the obtuse dimension and design of the film.
This is where Rocky Horror begins to buck every convention that existed in the film business – horror, young love, mysteries, science fiction, suspense and spy stories. It pays homage to classic films like Frankenstein, Hong Kong, Rear Window and even Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock, – Rock and Roll High schoooool! Was an anthem of my youth’s culture. Graduating a suburban New Jersey high school in 1982 during a time of Reagan era politics and anti-establishment thinking, it made the band The Ramones a poster child for self-expression through rock music. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979) was a bit of an homage to A Hard Days Night where there the band is real and the settings around them are scripted comedy displaying the popularity of the band. While Rocky Horror can be compared with Rock ‘n’ Roll High School displaying the angst of youth, it’s in the execution of the display that is tremendously contrasting.
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School takes a page from The Beatles film playlist where it makes the band the center focus of a film, creates comedic and nonsensical youth based actions and wraps them around live performances. Again, a low cost “indie production” but done in a way that shows the band on equal footing with the youth who rebel against the school.
Directors Allan Arkush, Joe Dante, Jerry Zucker (pre-Airplane!, the movie) were able to take the energy of the anti-establishment mindset that grew in the late 60s and early 70s and channel it into a story about youth trying to find their own way their own path; young girls looking for their own identity. But they are doing it through rock ‘n’ roll as the school administration, portrayed in Nazi like manner, is declaring that rock music will imperil society.
The Ramones and punk music allowed youth to use rock ‘n’ roll as a vehicle for their emotions, their attitudes, their political expression – thus the band became sort of a cultural icon quickly. For 40 years they have been looked up to as making anti-authority cool, and that rock & roll is independence. In the film, the artists sing, act and are publically revered and vilified. The film allows seedy back stage antics of the rock and roll world to be exposed.
They show that music is power and that sex is something everybody wants – even the nerdiest types. Again, the pent up frustration of youth and high school culture is played out in bathroom executive offices, mean administrators labs and the classic scenic overlook or a tricked out van as locales for finding some ‘action’.
Another interesting aspect of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School is the way it welcomed into mainstream the punk generation. Coming alive in the early 1970s punk was a avant-garde music follow up to Elvis Presley hips not being show on Ed Sullivan and Jim Morrison saying “girl we couldn’t get much higher” direct camera over Sullivan’s CBS network sensors disapproval. Music has always allowed youth to express themselves in new forms.
The punk generation was partially kicked off by the Ramones. They motivated bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash. There was sort of a similar back-and-forth challenge of musical endeavors like the Beach Boys and Beatles had in the mid 1960’s. This mix of music and cultural angst equally influenced 1970-80’s artists and young adults that resulted in Live Aid; Farm Aid; Red, Hot + Blue and the Amnesty International tour.
Both films make the performance focus of the artist essential to their stories moral. Question authority; sexual expression is freedom; and live, laugh, love. Moreover, Rocky Horror is unique in its musicality and presentation of how far people will go for love.
The rock and roll, radio, concert and film industries are parried and exposed a bit in both films yet the world’s evil – tyrants and extraterrestrials are exposed through rock and roll. Music creates fame, love and attention. Sex is the reason for the season. Inside jokes are the directors irreverent wink of eye to viewers, making known that even the conventions of film and music should not be taken too seriously. And that Rock ‘n’ Roll is king!
American Graffiti was a coming of age film produced in the 1970’s giving a nostalgic view of the easy early 1960’s. When cars were boss, chicks were found crusin’ and life was a gas. Set to a 70’s score of Surfer Rock and Doo Wop this film painted a picture of America in the calm before the storm. Shot oddly close to Altamont Racetrack, which would later be a deadly icon of turbulent 60’s, the film traces the lives of young privileged youth on their last night of summer before they have to move forward into adulthood.
The themes in George Lucas’s first major film conjure up for me an innocence that has gone meandering in search of feeling something or transitioning into something. The Lucas as Writer – Director crafted characters reflect a time when Americas are unsure of themselves because that generation has never had to make tough decision before.
They push themselves into causing havoc based on the law enforcement pestering they have received the last few years. They see cars as a status symbol and sex symbol. Drag racing is the culmination of those feelings into a power – articulated through a 454 four barrel loaded into a little deuce coop. With the headers unplugged.
The story pokes fun at lust while only slightly seriously talking about love. They courtship of youth is manifested and supported by radio DJ’s who controlled the airways of the cars. The test of love, patience, friendship and manhood are done through pranks. The button down madras shirts and the above the calf skirts show that sexuality is still a kid’s game.
The evils of alcohol are comically played up while the adults seem oblivious. The gangs of faux toughies mock the 1950’s style where the type of jackets on their backs is more important than having each other’s backs. And all the while they sit by waiting to see the revolution be televised. Not knowing that Kent State, Yippies, deaths of John, Martin & Bobby, Woodstock, Vietnam and Nixon will have them all chanting – the whole world is watching, the whole world is watching.
Tommy is a rock opera, where all the script is sung lyrics did not just come to age, they launched out of the womb and into our faces. The irreverent and aggressive nature of British have and have not’s society, captured the 1970’s perspective of the decadent late 60’s with perfection. Director Ken Russell’s first major film created a feeling of music as the mind-altering substance that could set people free of the rules of society, which bound them to be a proper Englishman and women.
Performed as rock opera, writer, composer and The Who lead guitarist Pete Townsend was able to articulate the innocence of British youth, profiled in the lead character, being pummeled by drugs, sex, TV, fame and fortune making them grow up faster because they had to. Society was racing ahead in the baby boom of a warm coastal southern England. Tommy pulled no punches when articulating that rock and roll music was power. Concerts were fuses to mayhem and roadies took pride in bashing those, which did not follow the rules or had an infatuation with the star.
The provocative wardrobe of musicians, side kicks, celebrity parents and back stage floozies were visualized in stripped down madness and titillating leather, spandex and leopard print. When societies fascination with Pinball as a drug was explored and exploited, it made the game a landscape even for all competitors – where the deaf, dumb and blind could succeed. The game, as a script point, was inspired by a mutual love of the game by the composer and an influential rock critic. So even the creation of Tommy displayed the decadent using of people to get what they want. For The Who it was fame and fortune and artistic recognition.
The decadent late 60’s era displayed how drugs and alcohol begin the brake down the sanctity of marriage. Where the loyalty and oaths of commitment were brushed aside for the gratuitous sexual activity that became rampant in the early 1070’s. Where the deviance of peep shows, homosexuality and bondage began to brake down the cultural barriers of normalcy.
The dichotomy of the 60’s generation broadened greatly just within 1965 to 1969, in the time a student could graduate from high school or college. Money was paramount in Tommy where even the messiah like lead character was over commercialized but the honored scholarship in American Graffiti was almost ignored. Fame was exploited through live telethons in one film but secretly hidden in out of way radio station in the other. The sexual revolution was televised with full frontal in Tommy but in American Graffiti it was fumbled with in the back seat. Champagne and limos outdid the hard liquor and hot rods. The gangs in Tommy were brutes and killers for fun and sport, compared the gangs of American Graffiti were in gangs just for the jackets.
American Graffiti was one of the first films to eschew a traditional film score and successfully rely instead on synchronizing a series of popular hit songs with individual scenes. Its soundtrack mirrored the themes, feelings, attitudes, hopes and dreams of society. Tommy crafted a mind-expanding experience of music and art thanks to The Who’s innovative approach. Combining major music stars to augment the showcasing of Roger Daltrey begat a cultural commentary in chords and measures. The Rock Opera genre became a vehicle for bands to express their passion, fears, rage and lust. Rock and roll became an instigator of and a reflection for the youth of the 60’s. As Danny and Juniors put it:
“Rock ‘n roll is here to stay,
It will never die
It was meant to be that way,
Though I don’t know why
I don’t care what people say,
Rock ‘n roll is here to stay.”
When watching Jailhouse Rock and A Hard Day’s Night, I got the impression that more than the state of music changed when these films came out. What I felt changed was the way that the youth of the society in America and England began to have power. They were not taken seriously as a cultural and economical force that drove these two nations to grow faster than they were already growing in a Post WW II world. The youth are the record customer courted and the ticket buyer feared. They are the fans that letters make or break careers.
With Elvis, he helped articulate the growing middle/upper middle class in America of the 1950’s Baby Boom. He was caught between hillbilly country music and jazz that was funky but very lyrically challenged. We see a young man search for control via a red convertible, a career by owing his 51% of his record company and eventually notoriety. But that poisons him into becoming an elitist snob brought down to earth but his best friend and true love. This mirrors Americas 1950’s high to its 1960’s low.
The cultural insights that you receive from watching Jailhouse Rock are an immense reflection of America. With his performance focused as tent poles for a legitimate story, Jailhouse Rock becomes one of the seminal films of how music is brought into motion pictures. The script played out on screen is Elvis’s story – obscurity, groundbreaking music, adoring fans, and movie stardom. Actors are his friends, foes and female companions. All done to sections of concert like performances.
The Beatles articulate the working class in their music by personifying the youth culture caught between the Mods and the Rockers of 1960’s Britain. There society is still slowly rebuilding from WW II. Hard Days Night is a film that mirrors their life, four young men with granddad’s living with their families, the elite having control over their space, chasing girls and in search of time and space for a good cup of tea. They want to play music, have fun, meet girls and look past the cares of a nation pushing socialist policies to lift it self up from a war torn past.
Their songs are focused on as performances but not very tied to specific scenes in the film. The film is vehicle to showcase the Beatles talents in a fun way. They are a comical troupe of mischief-makers. But there is one big difference between the films. The Beatles plays them selves. They interact with society but the cast is all actors in what can be called the first mockumentary.
The films honestly articulate the 1950’s and 1960’s culture by kicking back at the burgeoning sexual revolution. The female is equally put on a pedestal and considered an acquisition. Elvis defends a woman from an abusive husband/boyfriend so violently he goes to jail for it. But he spends the rest of the film treating his record partner, the girl he truly loves, like an after thought until almost too late. He treats his costar with such disdain that his ignoring her turns into aggressive passion. The wardrobe has a flaunty sexuality for the ladies and the lexicon of men discussing them makes them sound like pasties – “delicious” and “scrumptious”.
The Beatles show women as a toy to be played with and controlled. They chase girls by sneaking out to nightclubs to find them. They pretend to be elite to persuade them to come along. They fane interest in their make-up careers, to make the ladies follow them back to their dressing rooms. The female wardrobe is very form fitting and short shirtish to titillate while lexicon refers to them as thing on display – “talent” and “birds”.
A Hard Days Night mocks TV business and uptight directors similar to way that Jailhouse Rock mocks film executives and flacks. Yet they both use the media as a device to help tell their story while having a comic foil or predatory villain. The oxymoron here is both products of the media business (film) uses the media business (TV/movies) as a tool drive the power, popularity and polarization of their young talent who want to just play music, they way they want to do it. Both Col. Tom Parker and George Martin made sure that happened. They sheltered their artists from the fray, kept them out of trouble and drove them to the top. Parkers and Martin’s participation in and promotion of Elvis and Beatles film projects helped their artists create something groundbreaking. All while helping them use the medium of film as a vehicle to just sell records.
Proud that my English 3080 class at Lyndon State College in the Spring of 2015 was able to execute this PSA and Press Release.
Lyndonville, VT – Many veterans returning from war have scars that cannot be seen with the naked eye. PTSD is a major consequence of war, and often times goes untreated. In the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont there is a special kind of therapy for these veterans that doesn’t involve a weekly visit to the therapists, Equine therapy.
Over the course of their Spring 2015 semester students in Lyndon State College’s Strategic Writing and Advanced Video Production class have teamed up to write and produce a PSA to bring awareness to equine therapy. This PSA contracted by Rhythm of the Rein, a local stable specializing in this type of therapy.
Not only did this allow students to fulfil their course requirements, it also gave them an insight into what it was like working with these veterans and therapists. In the teaming up of these two classes students learned to work together to create something that may help more than just their grades. They are creating something that may help hundreds of veterans of all ages. Contact Rhythm of the Rein firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help too.
Check it out at http://rhythmoftherein.org/photos-videos/
Sometimes a product launch doesn’t go the way that a company planned. That happened to Coca- Cola, maybe it was in the news. Throughout the term I have been using Coke as a brand to focus on for the Short Paper assignments because of their powerful global marketing and consistently innovative product presence. When looking for a brand that made mistakes noted in the Brand Strategy Insider blog post, I had to go no farther than The Coca-Cola Company. Using the announcement of New Coke in 1985, the immediate backlash and then three months later, the return of the Classic Coke (With New Coke being discontinued in1992) one of the most notorious marketing mistakes in the United States turned into a lesson that created a greater brand. Yet, sometimes when a firm plans to come out with a new brand, it is important to be flexible and pay attention to customers. When the public rejected New Coke, the original formula was reintroduced and began a long ride to take a commanding market share over Pepsi to the point that the company’s share price was at a level well above what it was when the CEO who launched New Coke had taken over 16 years earlier and its position as market leader even more firmly established than ever (Staff, 2015). While it all turned out well in the end, how did it go wrong in 1985? What mistakes were made and why?
Coca-Cola is a valued brand, probably the most recognized brand in the globe. For over 120 years Coke has been existence creating, bottling, marketing and selling refreshment. With in those 123 years of business, it is understandable that a company could have some missteps. They have created an impactful product line and developed many innovative distribution mechanisms. They created a persona that links with Americana. They have unique and noteworthy spokespeople, memorable ad campaigns and keen marketing executives keying in all those things affect the brand attitude and the brand assets. It perseveres because the product remembers to act like the leading soft drinks in the world 123 years later. But that longevity is even more powerful based on an anomaly that occurred in a new product launch, one that affected the brand strategy of Coca-Cola forever. That anomaly occurred in 1986 when Coca-Cola decided to create New Coke to take on Pepsi. Their new formula New Coke was being offered as they watched their original formula become Coca-Cola Classic, a secondary product like Diet Coke or Cherry Coke (Conversations Staff, 2012).
What Coca-Cola did not understand was its customer base, the news media and society’s attachment to the original formula. The press hammered Mr. Robert Guizot, then chairman-CEO, to explain the difference and what happened to the old Coke, which 39% of consumers still favor. When Mr. Goizueta admitted it would do away with the old formula, consumers revolted. Dazed by the backlash, management on July 11, 1985, just 79 days later, agreed to bring back the original formula, renaming it Coca-Cola Classic (Klaassen, 2010). With such tremendous resistance that it almost damaged the company’s integrity, management smartly acted so fast, so quickly to quell the fears and return Classic Coke that they were able to survive. Alas, not only survive but by the end of that year 1985, Coca-Cola Classic was substantially outselling both New Coke and Pepsi. Six months after the initial mistake, Coke’s sales had increased at more than twice the rate of Pepsi’s. So what went wrong the first place?
What Went Wrong
Coca-Cola for a long time had such quality products that they were able to expand and be successful globally. By being innovative with distribution and marketing by developing fountain drinks, the soda vending machine and the development of a sports marketing with the NFL and FIFA they saw success. While they did not tempt fate with their logo, not changing it for almost 125 years, Coca-Cola was driving to compete with Pepsi. They figured out that they needed do something to get an edge and created a new product to try to expand sales. With testing new flavors they create one that they felt competed with Pepsi – enter New Coke. Coke committed Mistake #25: Not really understanding the consumer, his needs, and motivations (Daye, 2010).
The sweeter New Coke was touted a better version of Coke targeted to young people. And Classic Coke would be delegated to older folks but this was met with tremendous backlash. Consumers immediately had issues – sending hundreds of thousand of letters, phone calls, public protests like booing ads on stadium Jumbotrons and most importantly a threat from southern state bottlers to boycott the new product (Conversations Staff, 2012). Coke obviously did not do market research well enough to understand the power that the original Coca-Cola Classic played in the lives of consumers. Here they committed Mistake # 11: Launching sub-brands that inadvertently reposition the parent brand in a negative light (Daye, 2010).
The Results Taste Just Fine
Coca-Cola learned the power of their brand, then and now. They were able to overcome Mistake #24 they made which was defining their target consumer too broadly (Daye, 2010). They won’t do it again. They refocused on those who want sweet caffeinated refreshment that makes everyone smile. By using the Coke logo, known in any language, and approaching marketing at the core level of offering “healthy refreshment”, their marketers were able to penetrate emerging markets. Classic Coke’s re-introduction was not only a success in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s but set it on course to be the global leader in soft drinks. Recent international success for Coke has been due to a growing middle class customer base in India, Russia and China. Forbes Magazine says the brand’s volume gains in 2013 were specifically impressive in emerging markets with huge consumer bases, such as India (up 30%), Russia (up 15%) and China (up 6%) (Trefis Team, 2013). With 1.262 billion people in India alone, 30% of that emerging market is a sign the iconic brand can sell anytime and anywhere.
Coca-Cola was able to learn from their mistakes. Not only did the learn quickly to revert from New Coke to back to Classic Coke, but saw that the strength of their brand foundation was strong. The brand loyalty of Coca-Cola could withstand the great misstep of 1996. It saw that its brand loyalty that could be further developed. Coca-Cola expanded, developed and smartly test-marketed products smaller in smaller test batches and out of view of their core audience. An example was launching and testing Coke Zero in the UK. They avoided the Mistake #35: Frequently changing your brands positioning and message (Daye, 2010) as they took the time to roll the product out in a country with close enough similarities to the United State that when the Coke Zero brand was proven a success, they launched it globally (Staff, 2015). Coca-Cola is one of the top brands in the world and the top for soft drinks. But the most important result of making a mistake was learning from their mistakes, which lead Coca-Cola to greater success.
Daye, D. (October, 2010). “41 Causes Of Brand Failure”. Branding Strategy Insider.
Klaassen, A. (April 23, 2010). New Coke: One of Marketing’s Biggest Blunders Turns 25.
Ad Age. Retrieved from: http://adage.com/article/adages/coke-marketing-s- biggest-blunders-turns-25/143470/
Conversations Staff. (Nov 14, 2012). The Real Story of New Coke. History. Coca- Cola.com. http://www.coca-colacompany.com/history/the-real-story-of-new-coke
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