Coca-Cola is removing the word “Classic” from their packaging for the Coca-Cola Classic soft drink. The idea behind this is that Coca-Cola Classic is not so “Classic” anymore. You may or may not remember the Coke versus Pepsi taste wars in the 1980s, but Coca-Cola launched a new formula for the Coca-Cola beverage in response to the taste wars when people said Pepsi tasted better. This launch set off enormous amounts of public protest and Coca-Cola ultimately re-launched the original formula as Coca-Cola Classic, while slowly phasing out New Coke.
Some people say that Coca-Cola and “Classic” are interchangeable terms and taking out Classic will effectively remove a part of Coca-Cola’s history and also weaken the beverage giant’s brand. Others say that removing the “Classic” will wipe clean the embarrassment of the failed product launch.
Those that are old enough to remember the taste wars don’t go around asking for Coca-Cola Classic when they want to buy a can of Coke. They know the soft drink simply as Coca-Cola and whether the “Classic” label is attached or not, the taste remains the same and people still buy it. Will anyone stop buying Coke if they remove “Classic” from the name?
Furthermore, those that don’t remember the taste wars only know Coca-Cola Classic as Coca-Cola. There is no memory of the New Coke fiasco in our relationship with the brand, and therefore the term “Classic” is irrelevant.
Something else to consider may be the soft drink’s positioning. Pepsi appears to be cornering the younger demographics through their communication as a hip, young, and edgy beverage. Coca-Cola, on the other hand, appears to be advertising nostalgia and an enjoyable lifestyle to the consumers. Nostalgia can only take the brand so far, and those that are nostalgic are getting older. For the rest of us, the younger consumers, what is there to be nostalgic about? Therefore, Coca-Cola needs to create some more memories with the younger consumers in order to renew those nostalgic feelings later on in their lives. Maybe Coca-Cola will be called Coca-Cola now, and then in about another 20 years they will rename it as Coca-Cola Classic again. Just for old time’s sake.