The New Coke story is one of my favorite in marketing history. It is, in fact, one of the biggest marketing flops in history, right up there with the Ford Edsel and the Chevy Nova being sold in Mexico; but there is a twist. Some have called the move INGENIUS.
At the time of the New Coke, the Coca Cola company was quickly losing its market share to Pepsi... the whole "Pepsi Challenge" really did prove that Pepsi has a better taste than Coke (and it does, I dare you to do a blind taste test). So, Coke comes out with "new" coke and people are outraged and infuriated. How could a giant, multibillion dollar, fortune 100 company like Coca Cola not have known the reaction that the new Coke would have generated?
So what happened? They bring back the old Coke, as Coca Cola Classic and sales went through the roof. Coke blasted ahead of Pepsi in the cola wars and haven't looked back; Pepsi has sat in second place ever since.
Market flop... or brilliance? The debate rages on......