Coca-Cola Museum – the temple of branding

The Coca-Cola Museum is one big smile.

The Coca-Cola Museum is one big smile.

Last month I had the pleasure of spending a morning inside The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.  It was a pleasant walk from the Ellis Hotel (which I highly recommend) to the museum located in Centennial Olympic Park.

Your guide orients you to the Coca-Cola Museum experience and then let’s you loose on a self-guided tour.  In the Hub, the lobby gathering space, the Coke Polar Bear came to life, to the delighted screams of Atlanta’s field tripping middle schoolers.

The woman is a Coke scientist from Houston.

The woman is a Houston-based scientist featured in Coca-Cola Connections.

The Brand
Coca-Cola was “born” in Atlanta in 1886 by Dr. John Pemberton.  The signature script of the Coke brand was developed by Pemberton’s bookkeeper Frank Robinson.
The signature script has endured for more than 123 years.

The signature script has endured for more than 123 years.

Coke became a national brand when Asa Candler bought the formula from Pemberton.  Strong advertising campaigns underscored the key message of Coca-Cola – a refreshing beverage to be enjoyed with family and friends.
Bottling plant inside the museum.  You receive a Classic Coke at the end of your visit.

Bottling plant inside the museum. You receive a Classic Coke at the end of your visit.

Coke Advertising

The museum showcases the Happiness Theater Factory, which was an intelligent and imaginative advertising campaign for the product.  But for me Coke advertising scored big with the 1971 advertising hit, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” which I can sing to you from memory.  Throughout the decades different slogans have appeared including “You can’t beat the feeling” and “The Real Thing” to today’s current campaign, “Open Happiness.”  But they don’t top the spirit of that commercial filmed on a hilltop in Italy in 1971.

Other highlights of the museum include the Secret Formula 4-D Theater with fantastic effects made more enjoyable by the screaming students; and the Coke inspired artwork of Steve Penley

Penley's Coke Bottle painting

Penley's Coke Bottle painting

The shape of the Coca-Cola bottle is an American icon.  Other artists have been inspired by its uniqueness including folk artist Reverend Howard Finster.
Coca-Cola bottle by Howard Finster

Coca-Cola bottle by Howard Finster

This Penley had more of an Impressionist feel

This Penley had more of an Impressionist feel

At the end of the tour you hit the Taste it! area which allows you to sample many of the 400 distinct brands Coca-Cola sells around the globe.  To me, some of the beverages had a clean, almost “not there” taste and others were overwhelming sweet.  The most delicious choice to me was Bibo from South Africa.

The soda dispensors in the Taste It! area

The soda dispensers in the Taste It! area

The World of Coca-Cola was an absolutley pleasant way to learn more about a beverage I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid.  For me ? Make mine a Diet Coke with Lime please.

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