Case Study – Coca Cola

Monica M. Simpson

Case Study – Coca Cola Twitter Message Response

COMM 642 – Crisis Management and Strategies

July 18, 2013


Coca Cola



Background:  Coca-Cola Company was created in 1886 by an Atlanta pharmacist by the name of James Pemberton.  (Coca-Cola History, Online) In the first year the drink was sold to the public only 9 classes per day were purchased.  In 1923, Robert Woodruff a “marketing genius” took the lead reins of the company.  He spent more than 60 years leading Coca-Cola to grand successes.  Through his time with the company, Coca-Cola was introduced to the Olympics, widely used as an encouraging message for military during World War II and then marketed throughout the world.  The drink was destined to become a household name.  In the 1980’s, Coca-Cola expanded its variety to include Sprite and other flavors of drinks.  They flourished with public relations campaigns that showed Coca-Cola as a brand that cared about its consumers, and the world around them.  In 1985 the company, under the leadership of Roberto C. Goizueta, embarked on a marketing fiasco with the change to “New Coke” formula, which had a different formula and a different taste.   This was the first time the formula had been changed in 99 years.  Goizueta wanted to give the customers a bold new Coke.  However the public rejected it and the original formula was returned to the shelves.  This strategy is seen by many as one of the largest marketing blunders ever.   Coca-Cola in the present does a large quantity of marketing online. 


Problem:  In the fall of 2008, the software used by Coca-Cola to track discussions about their product, found a twitter post which complained about the Coke Rewards program.  (Wall Street Journal, Online)  Adam Brown, who would later become the company’s first head of social media, noticed that this specific person had over 10,000 followers who would see the negative post.




  • The company has been in business for well over 100 years.
  • Coca-Cola has a long history of good standings with their consumers.
  • Coca-Cola has created an overall image of caring for their consumers.


  • At the time the “Tweet” was discovered, Coca-Cola had not yet began using social media.
  • There was no plan in place for how to handle a social media crisis.


  • There was a new opportunity to interact with consumers and show that Coca-Cola cared about its customers.
  • There would be the opportunity to reach a much larger and broader base of consumers through the use of social media.
  • Coca-Cola could gain better customer approval and recognition.



  • There is always a danger with social media sites that customer feedback could be negative. 
  • Social media requires constant monitoring to control negative effects and to respond properly to questions.


Strategies:  For the initial incident, Brown posted an apology to the customer’s Twitter profile.  He also offered to assure the customer that he would indeed get his rewards.  The consumer proceeded to change his profile picture to an image of himself holding a Coke bottle. Rising from this incident, Brown became the head of Social Media in March of 2009.  In December of 2008 the company created a Facebook page and a Twitter profile was created in March of 2009.    By August of 2009 the company was prepared to let participants of social media sites post without having to gain approval from the public relations department.  (Wall Street Journal, Online)  In December of 2009 the company released their “Online Social Media Principals”, which can be found on the company website.

Consequences (Results):  Even though there had been the possibility of negative effects on the Coca-Cola brand due to social media, the company was able to utilize the situation to create a positive experience for the customer.  Because of this event, the company became aware that there was a necessity for utilizing new technologies available, including social media.  They were then able to embrace the changes in marketing and public relations tactics.  As of today, Coca-Cola has over 69 million likes on Facebook, over 5 million users on YouTube and over 98 thousand followers on Twitter.  They also utilize Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram. (Coca-Cola Company, Online)

Comments:  Through the quick thinking of valued employees, the company was able to quickly negate a possible issue with customer relations.  By spurring a social media campaign they were able to continue their tradition of loyalty to their customers.  Throughout the long history of the Coca-Cola Company they were able to maintain a demeanor of support for their customers.  With campaigns that ranged from supporting the military through wars to providing a caring atmosphere and appreciation of customer support throughout the years.  Adam Brown made the decision to continue that legacy with the customer base. This event was able to keep the Coca-Cola Company in a positive light and give the consumers the feeling that the company truly cared what their thoughts were.  From the event, an entirely new era was created for the public relations and marketing efforts of the company.  What this case shows is the necessity of companies to be able to move forward with new technological advances and trends.  Without being able to adapt to the current atmosphere of public relations and marketing, a company could fall behind.




Needleman, Sarah E. (2009, August 3). For Companies, a Tweet in Time Can Avert PR Mess. retrieved 2013, July 16, from Wall Street Journal Online Web Site:


Our Company – The Coca-Cola Company. (n.d) retrieved 2013, July 16, from Coca Cola Company Web Site:

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One Response to Case Study – Coca Cola

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