Coca-Cola’s New Coke: A Classic Brand Fail – & How APM Could Have Helped

Subject: Business
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1120
Topics: Coca Cola, Management


Agile Project Management (APM) comprises four aspects, which are need to be focused, which involves opportunities created and development that it can bring, principles, and values that drive effective management. The other two factors are specific practices, which are to be incorporated for proper implementation and enhancement of those practices along with the principles. In addition, proper project management also comprises collaboratively working with the suppliers and stakeholders apart from the project team. Moreover, project management practices should include risk analysis and contract compliance, which may be agile (Highsmith, 2009). Therefore, there is a chance of project failure, which could have been mitigated with the implementation of agile practices. With respect to its importance, the study aims to draw an understanding relating an IT project failure in the case of New Coke. Thus, the study involves a brief overview of the case along with the failure points of New Coke. Thereafter, the appropriate usage of the ‘agile project management methodology’ has been described, which could have mitigated the failure of the project. 


Overview of the Case Study

Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest soft drink or beverage company, which has been serving customers with variety of products all across the globe. It is one of the most recognised brands in the world and is valued at US$21 billion, thereby, becoming the most popular providers of both beverages, as well as, sparkling drinks. Furthermore, it has been ranked the ‘world’s most valued brand’ of 2016 amounting $ 73.1 billion (The Coca-Cola Company, 2017). Irrespective of all these success, the company has faced devastating failure with its New Coke inhibition. In the year 1985, it decided to take the biggest risk of changing its famous soft drink formula, thereby, changing the taste of the drink. This change was made after 99 years, which made a devastating effect on sales and brand image of the company. The key purpose behind taking this step was to re-energize the brand, especially in the US market, thereby, making changes, even in the dynamics of the entire soft-drink industry. Even with the failure of inhibiting of new coke, it came to know the value of its famous product in the market, which made them continue with their original product along with the new ones in the future (The Coca-Cola Company, 2012). 

However, this marketing strategy was considered as the greatest blunder in history or may be termed as an unlikely move in the corporate sector. In either of the ways, this is considered as one of the most significant strategy for the company. Since then, the company received numerous phone calls and letters resulting into negative publicity after which the company focused on producing classic version of the soft drink (Time Inc, 2016). Thus, it can be noted that the company learned that marketing is not only about the product, but also the importance of proper testing and decision-making. Therefore, this can be regarded as the key brand assets.

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Identification of Failure Points

In this case study, the identified failure point was relating primarily to the brand failure, considering the introduction of New Coke. Another failure was regarding the decision-making of the marketing department of the company. The biggest failure point was the approach, which the company implemented, when it faced serious competition from Pepsi. Taking this rivalry into account, it can be noted from the case study that Coca-Cola had legal issues with Pepsi as well. It legally battled with Pepsi-Cola for using the word ‘cola’. Pepsi, in the primary stage was not able to cope up with the value that Coca-Cola had created over the years. However, with the passage of time, it had emerged as a drink for the youths, thereby, increasing its shares more than Coca-Cola. Hence, it can also be noted that this marketing strategy was implemented due to fierce competition that it was facing. This made the company to change its original formula of the soft drink, as Pepsi had a sweeter taste (Haig, 2005; Haoues, 2015). 

Therefore, it was the key turning point of the company, thereby justifying that this cause led to the failure of the company. This is because the company introduced various other products since then such as Diet Coke but did not succeed much as its original product did. Thus, it led decreasing the market share of the company by 24%. Another failure point highlighted in the case study was the inaccurate taste tests that were taken before introducing ‘New Coke’ in the market, which generated overwhelming results. Subsequently, it made the company introduce the new product i.e. New Coke rather than producing the original one. In addition, another aspect that can be inferred is that the company underestimated their first brand for regaining the market share in the verge of fierce competition (Haig, 2005; Haoues, 2015). Moreover, it failed to understand the emotional attachment that the customers had with the original formula of the company (IBS Center for Management Research, 2017). 

Using Agile Project Management Methodology

Having an understanding of the case study of ‘New Coke: A Classic Brand Failure’, it can be suggested that instead of taking taste tests and changing its formula, Coca-Cola should have opted for agile project management method. This methodology uses scrum, which is a collaborative way of managing projects, especially considering the software. This framework allows quick and easy process of change, which is advantageous for facilitating faster feedback, proper identification of the problem, and prioritization, which ensures customer satisfaction. Furthermore, the companies can see immediate benefits, encourages commitment among the employees, time management, and proper team objective to be set with the implementation of this methodology (Forbes Technology Council, 2016). In addition, this agile approach can provide an oversight on the details of the innovative projects. Therefore, it is highly advantageous for the projects, which have high changing requirements (Davis, 2012). This will result in attaining high level agility through hiring skilled employees, encouraging team work, embracing change, and implementing good practices along with processes (O’Reilly, B., 2017). Hence, with the use of this approach, the negative impact of the step taken by the company may not have taken the step, which resulted in devastating effect. This is because the decision, taken would have been based on the feedback with the support of data analysis and oversights obtained by proper agile project management methodology.


Having a detailed understanding of the failure points of Coca-Cola, it would be highly beneficial to opt for agile approach. This can be inferred, as marketing feedbacks could been generated quicker. In addition, it could inhibit innovative projects and effectively incorporate necessary changes, which could provide the company a competitive edge against its rivals, primarily Pepsi at that particular point of time. 

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  1. Davis, B., 2012. Agile Practices for Waterfall Projects: Shifting Processes for Competitive Advantage. J. Ross Publishing.
  2. Forbes Technology Council, 2016. The Benefits of Using Agile Software Development. Tech. [Online] Available at: [Accessed January 11, 2018].
  3. Haig, M., 2005. Brand Failures: The Truth about the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time. Kogan Page Publishers.
  4. Haoues, R., 2015. 30 Years Ago Today, Coca-Cola Made its Worst Mistake. CBS News. [Online] Available at: [Accessed January 11, 2018]. 
  5. Highsmith, J., 2009. Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products. Pearson Education.
  6. IBS Center for Management Research, 2017. The Launch of New Coke. IBS Center for Management Research. [Online] Available at: [Accessed January 11, 2018].
  7. O’Reilly, B., 2017. The Drivers of Agility. Project Management Institute, pp. 1-13.
  8. The Coca-Cola Company, 2012. The Real Story of New Coke. History. [Online] Available at: [Accessed January 10, 2018].
  9. The Coca-Cola Company, 2017. Coca-Cola at a Glance: Infographic. Our Company. [Online] Available at: [Accessed January 10, 2018].
  10. Time Inc, 2016. Down the Sink: New Coke. Top 10 Bad Beverage Ideas. [Online] Available at:,28804,1913612_1913610_1913608,00.html [Accessed January 10, 2018].
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