BRAND OF THE CENTURY: COCA-COLA
Coca-Cola has won the top prize because of the longevity of the brand,
its differentiation, its global positioning and because of its
extraordinary marketing achievement.
Coca-Cola syrup (named after two of its original ingredients, coca
leaves and kola nuts) was invented in 1886 by Dr John Styth Pemberton
and sold in local chemists, mixed with carbonated water. Within a couple
of years, he sold his invention to an Atlanta businessman, Asa Candler,
who began marketing the product in earnest. He ensured the trademark
appeared on a wide range of merchandise. At the first evidence of
competition, Coke set itself up as the genuine article and of superior
quality to any rivals.
In 1899, Candler sold the bottling rights in the US for the royal sum of
dollars 1. However, it wasn’t until this century that Coke’s marketing
really took off, when its president, Robert Woodruff, defined
Coca-Cola’s mission as ’to be within arm’s reach of desire’ around the
world. Distribution has always been a key part of its strategy,
illustrated best when the US entered the Second World War. Woodruff
immediately announced that Coca-Cola would go wherever American GIs
went, at a cost of five cents a bottle.
By the end of the war, five billion bottles had been consumed. This
strategy was more than an exercise in building troop morale; it ensured
Coke attained global reach.
Advertising has always been at the crux of Coke’s strategy, and in 1911
its budget was more than dollars 1m. A milestone came in 1971, with the
’Hill Top’ ad, which was simultaneously broadcast worldwide.
Post-Vietnam, with America’s image in dire straits, Coke’s response was
to produce an ad declaring world peace. ’Hill Top’ showed young people
from 30 countries, each in their national costume, singing about ’buying
the world a home and furnishing it with love’. The tagline? ’I’d like to
buy the world a Coke’.
The ultimate Coca-Cola icon, the contoured bottle, was the result of a
competition held in 1913 to ’find a bottle anyone could recognise, even
in the dark; a bottle unique in the world’. The winning design was
created by the CJ Root Glass Company.
But it hasn’t all been a smooth ride for Coke. In 1985, there was public
outcry when it changed its formula, forcing it to reintroduce the
original product as Coca-Cola Classic.
More recently it was criticised for its handling of the contamination
scare in Belgium, when it failed to react quickly enough.
Its last set of results posted in the US showed an 11% decline in sales
for the third quarter of 1999. Its full-year results for 1998 saw
pre-tax profit fall by 14% to dollars 5.2bn, making it the first-ever
earnings drop reported by the soft drinks giant. Global sales remain
relatively constant at dollars 18.8bn.
However, Coke has bounced back before and its current position is
remarkable.Worldwide, Coke has two of the three top-selling soft drinks:
Coca-cola and Diet Coke. Its closet rival, Pepsi, is the second
best-selling soft drink in the world.
Coke sells half of all soft drinks consumed in the world, is distributed
to more than 200 countries, has the best recognised commercial trademark
in the world today and is the biggest brand in the world.
Disney was the runner-up, with many wanting it recognised because it is
not only good at marketing, but also because it has ’made a
In 1923, brothers Walt and Roy Disney founded a film studio in Hollywood
to create short cartoons. The first Mickey Mouse cartoon came out in
1928 and its first full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the
Seven Dwarves, followed in 1937; Disneyland was opened in 1955.
By 1980, Walt’s son-in-law, Ron Miller, was president, and he founded
Touchstone Pictures. The Bass family bought a controlling interest in
the company in 1984 and chief executive Michael Eisner took over. Disney
expanded rapidly, with the launch of the Disney Channel, retail stores
and more theme parks.
In 1992, Disneyland Paris was opened. Despite fears of a culture clash
with the French, by the mid-90s, it was the country’s biggest tourist
attraction. By 1998, Disney’s operations covered consumer products,
movie studios, record labels, a cruise line and internet operations.
AD ICON OF THE CENTURY: MARLBORO
The Marlboro Man was the clear winner of the ad icon of the century, but
because of the nature of the product, it wasn’t without some debate.
But no matter which side you take in the ethical argument over tobacco
advertising, Marlboro cigarettes created an enduring image with its
smoking cowboy. The rugged, macho, free-spirited character has gone a
long way toward ensuring Marlboro is the best selling cigarette
The character was created in 1954 by Leo Burnett himself, on a farm near
Chicago. Before the cowboy’s introduction, the brand was called
Marlborough and was launched in 1924, targeted at women with the
strapline ’Mild as May’. The cigarettes had pink filters to hide
The relaunch involved the new spelling of the brand, flip-top boxes, new
filters and a major shift to make men the primary consumers. In 1955,
the product began to be exported and in the next three decades, Marlboro
Man became the brand’s global icon.
The success of the cowboy meant that by the early-1960s, the concept was
expanded to include Marlboro Country, providing the advertising with
Philip Morris’ brand is now in 180 markets, has a 38% market share in
the US, is the top-selling cigarette in the world, and the tenth-most
valuable brand overall.
A close second for the ad icon of the century is the Michelin Man.
Otherwise know as Bibendum, it has succeeded in making the tyre firm one
of the most immediately recognisable brands in the world.
The idea for the icon came to Edouard Michelin at an exhibition in Lyon
in 1889, when he saw a pile of tyres which looked almost lifelike. With
the help of an artist called O’Galop, the Michelin Man was created.
He has been adapted and slightly modified over the years to better
reflect the product so that now he is made up of fewer, thicker
The consistent image and marketing took Michelin from being a well-known
French operator to a multi-national player. It is now the leading tyre
manufacturer in the world, with sales operations in 170 countries.
MARKETERS OF THE CENTURY: HENRY FORD/FORREST MARS
Henry Ford was the man who told the world it could have any colour car
it liked, so long as it was black, and in so doing created the model for
mass production business and marketing.
An engineer by profession, Ford was born in Michigan in 1863 and arrived
in Detroit, the city he was to help make synonymous with the motor
industry, at the age of 16.
He built his first automobile, the Quadricycle, in 1896, and drove it
through the streets of Detroit. In 1899, he began to concentrate on the
business of manufacturing cars full time, and in the early part of the
20th century, his Model A car started being produced from his
But it was in 1908 that Ford began manufacturing the car that was to
break the mould - the Model T - and embarked upon an expansion programme
that would form the blueprint for mass production of cars.
That included the introduction of the first moving assembly line in
1913, and the setting up of huge factories and storage space as tens of
thousands of cars rolled off the production line.
Ford was not a classic marketer, and his advertising message was
ultimately as basic as his proposition - ’to keep it cheap, we keep it
But by the time of his death in 1947 at the age of 83, his approach to
business and the customer had literally changed the business world.
He was the architect of the modern motor industry and the catalyst of a
new way of thinking about harnessing the power of mass production to
meet the needs of a more prosperous and aspirational mass consumer
But if Henry Ford marked out the beginning of mass production, it was
the confectionery king, Forrest Mars, who can claim the title of FMCG
marketer of the century. Mars, a tyrannical genius, died this year at
the age of 95, and the many obituaries bore testimony to his
ruthlessness, eccentricity and paranoia.
Almost no photographs exist of the man, and Mars the company, was not
prepared to provide one for this piece. Like its founder, the company
does not like speaking to the press, preferring to let its brands and
business do the talking.
The privately owned dollars 15bn business today employs 28,000 people,
and has brands such as Mars, Milky Way and M&Ms established all over the
Forrest Mars, together with his father, also a confectioner, created a
successful company making and marketing Milky Way in the US in the
1920s. Forrest claimed he had invented the product, by telling his
father he should put a chocolate milk shake in a bar.
But typically Forrest’s ambitions outstripped his father’s and they fell
out. Forrest left for England with the European rights to the Milky Way
brand in Europe. He realised that the English tooth was sweeter than
that of the US and reformulated and renamed the Milky Way to become the
The first Mars bar was devised in a small room in Slough, where Mars had
set up his UK operation in August 1933. From there, he went on to build
a global company, eventually moving into the pet food business, before
returning to the US to take over his father’s old business.
Mars’ belief in his brands was evangelical. He once fell to his knees in
front of stunned executives and proclaimed ’I pray for Milky Way. I pray
for Snickers’. He supported that faith with an iron discipline and a
multi-million dollar marketing budget.
Mars, like Procter & Gamble has always been a difficult, demanding, but
hugely rewarding client to work for. Mars handed his company over to his
sons in 1973, and it remains family-owned. But some are questioning
whether it will remain that way now Forrest has died.
Of course, there are others who could lay claim to the title of marketer
of the century, Apple’s Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Rupert
Murdoch and even Richard Branson, have all, in their different ways,
changed the way we think about marketing this century.
But what is certain is that between them, Ford and Mars pioneered paths
other marketers have followed over the past century. They were both
innovators, entrepreneurs and, long before it became a fashionable
phrase, believed in living their brands.
BRITISH BRAND OF THE CENTURY: BBC
The BBC, not least because of its phenomenal branding and its ability to
develop and expand, came out on top in this category.
The BBC has established itself as one of the most trusted brands
regionally, nationally and globally in a sector that typically engenders
little but scepticism. Its network of correspondents are seen as
unbiased, intelligent reporters covering all world news, and it has set
programming standards across children’s shows, education, drama and
John Reith, the BBC’s first director general, set the standard by saying
it must ’educate, entertain and inform’. The British Broadcasting
Company was established in October 1922 and by 1927 it had been awarded
a Royal Charter to provide public broadcasting services in the UK.
The precursor to the BBC World Service was launched in 1932, then called
the Empire Service. World Service now broadcasts to more than 140
million listeners in 44 different languages. BBC2 was launched in 1964.
In the late-1960s, colour transmissions began and around the same time,
the BBC launched Radio One and its local radio services.
As the media environment changed, it introduced BBC Online and its
digital activity began in November 1997 with round the clock news
service for cable: BBC News 24.
Recent viewing highlights have included a 17.5 million audience for
England’s match against Germany in the Euro 96 finals, and 19.3 million
tuning in for coverage of Princess Diana’s funeral.
Meanwhile, with the Teletubbies the BBC proved its intuitive skills in
children’s broadcasting as well as its commercial savvy.
The BBC narrowly beat Marks & Spencer in this category and there’s
little doubt M&S’ recent downfall contributed to it missing the top
M&S co-founder Michael Marks started selling haberdashery in Leeds in
1884. He went on to set up a stall at Leeds market by borrowing pounds 5
from a local wholesaler. His first slogan was ’Don’t ask the price -
it’s a penny’. Tom Spencer joined him in 1894 to found Marks &
Its position has always been to offer high quality products at good
value and it set a benchmark for customer service with its policy of no
quibble returns. M&S always shied away from traditional advertising
until it struck its recent problems; in January 1999 it introduced a
marketing department and upped its ad budget to pounds 20m.
Honorary mentions went to Cadbury and The Beatles.
CAMPAIGN OF THE CENTURY: KIT KAT/BENSON & HEDGES
This was one of the most difficult of all the categories to agree on. In
the end, we opted for two approaches: one was the campaign that had most
longevity and impact on the public at large and the other was the one
that had most impact on the advertising community.
All are remarkably enduring campaigns whose longevity stands out in a
notoriously short-term industry.
Long-running campaigns invariably ensure their catchphrases enter
everyday language, with even the most anti-advertising consumer becoming
familiar with the slogan and brand. This strategy also means that, with
comparatively little advertising spend, brand positioning and presence
From this viewpoint, three campaigns were consistently mentioned: ’Have
a break, have a Kit-Kat’, ’A Mars a day ...’ and ’Beanz Meanz Heinz’.
All these campaigns are perfect examples of a slogan for a product that
maintains resonance for several generations of consumers.
The first Kit-Kat ad from J Walter Thompson to introduce the idea of a
break appeared in 1939, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that the ’Have a
break, have a Kit-Kat’ slogan was used. The first TV ad featuring the
line aired in 1957. Since then this has remained the crux of the brand’s
advertising, although the situations have been updated to be relevant to
each generation of chocolate eaters.
Apart from a brief dip in the 1960s, sales of the chocolate bar have
consistently grown. The Nestle Rowntree product is the best-selling
confectionery brand in the UK.
Arch-rival Mars has achieved similar consistency with its ’A Mars a day
helps you work, rest and play’ line. First introduced in 1959, Murray
Walker is thought to have been responsible for it when he was at ad
agency, Masius and Ferguson (now D’Arcy).
It was used for 37 years as a way of putting across its energy, food and
nourishment and the jingle was introduced in 1973. The slogan was
dropped at the end of 1996 by then marketing director Angus Porter,
although the company stressed it will continue to appear on the
packaging. In a nutrition-aware age, the slogan was sounding somewhat
’Beanz Meanz Heinz’ is the final campaign of this genre that merited a
mention. The slogan was created by Young & Rubicam’s then deputy
creative director, Mo Drake, in a pub, in the early 1960s. It was
finally dropped in 1997 because Heinz wanted to ensure its brand was
synonymous with more than just baked beans.
The 1960s jingle went ’A million housewives every day, pick up a can of
beans and say, Beanz Meanz Heinz’.
Benson & Hedges’ 1970s campaign was chosen because it was judged to be
the campaign that had the most influence on the way agencies and
marketers started to think about adverts. When it first appeared in 1977
it introduced the concept that advertising did not have to be overt and
products could be promoted much more subtly.
The ’pure gold’ campaign was created by CDP under the guidance of the
then creative director, John Salmon. The campaign ran until 1997 with
over 90 executions.
LOGO OF THE CENTURY: NIKE SWOOSH
Nike’s swoosh was designed in 1972 by a graduate student named Carolyn
Davidson who was paid dollars 35.
It has gone on to become the most powerful global marketing logo of the
The swoosh has succeeded in communicating Nike’s brand value and
philosophy to countries and cultures around the world without saying a
It is an astonishing achievement in a message- and media-saturated
environment to achieve such cut-through and consumer attachment.
The fact that Nike is a relatively new company, makes the potency of its
logo even more striking.
In the judging, it had to fend off competition from McDonald’s golden
arches, the Coca-Cola logo and bottle, as well as the Mercedes
But what sets the swoosh apart from the others is its recent age, and
the speed at which the logo has become a social and cultural
It has succeeded in the difficult act of presenting a branding tool as a
fashion statement, and a commercial endorsement that’s still accepted as
It has been shaved into heads and even tattooed on to flesh. The swoosh
was introduced in 1972, the same year that Phil Knight’s running-shoe
company, Blue Ribbon Sports, changed its name to Nike, after the Greek
goddess of victory.
The Nike swoosh became synonymous with the brand and its ’Just do it’
advertising campaign. It is regarded as shorthand for winning,
The company has now toned down its more aggressive and controversial
marketing campaigns, but the swoosh goes on.
Whether it’s Tiger Woods, Ronaldo, or any other sports celebrity
sporting the Nike cap, trainers or shirt, there’s no mistaking the
brand, because there in all its simple glory, is the Nike swoosh.
MARKETING COMPANY: P&G
Procter & Gamble is the marketing grandmaster of the business world.
It is regarded as the academy of excellence for an army of the world’s
top marketers, and as the blueprint for building a global business.
P&G products now follow more than five billion consumers ’from the
cradle to the grave’ in more than 140 countries.
The Cincinnati-based company employs 110,000 and is the world’s biggest
advertiser, with an annual spend of more than dollars 3bn (pounds
1.8bn). It is a company that provokes strong emotions from many
marketers and agencies. In the past, it has been accused of a bullying
style and lack of tolerance. Its HQ was dubbed the Kremlin, and the
culture was aggressive, secretive and unforgiving. The past few years
have seen signs of glasnost in P&G’s dealings with suppliers and
But love it or loathe it, P&G’s success has been built on brand
advertising and business innovations which have carved out marketing
milestones across more than a century. Founded by brothers-in-law
William Procter and James Gamble, in 1837 in Cincinnati, P&G has grown
to dominate FMCG marketing around the globe.
Procter was an Englishman and a soap-maker, Gamble an Irish
Both were Protestants and their religious convictions and work ethic
drove the company from its early years. Procter & Gamble considered
itself a family company, with the firm belief that if it treated its
workers as family members, it would be repaid with the kind of loyalty
and dedication children have for a beloved father. By 1859, 22 years
after the partnership was formed, P&G sales reached dollars 1m and it
employed 80 people. In 1882, P&G decided to advertise its soap bar Ivory
nationally for the first time in The Independent, a weekly paper. And so
began a relationship with advertising which was to impact on the
marketing industry for more than a century, and in which P&G would seek
out new marketing and media opportunities, and recognise the power of
The company’s paternalist practices continued under William Cooper
Procter, grandson of its founder, who decided in 1885 to give its
workers the day off on Saturday - with pay. In 1887 it was the first
company to introduce a profit-sharing plan for its workers.
But it is in its marketing that P&G trailblazed its way into this
By 1890, it was selling more than 30 different types of soap, and was
among the first advertisers to use full colour print ads in national
It spread its production base around the country to cope with this
national demand. Where factories grew, so too did research labs looking
for new products for development.
The modern marketing business was being created by P&G. Its list of
innovations chart the development of many modern marketing techniques.
It was the first company to sponsor radio shows, ’brought to you by
Procter & Gamble’; ’soap operas’; it was the first manufacturer to set
up a sales team to target retailers; in 1924 it set up a market research
department, almost unheard of among US businesses before then.
It was among the first businesses to start deploying staff as brand
Five minutes after television came on air in the US in 1939, viewers saw
a P&G ad for Ivory soap aired in the first televised major league
baseball game. As it developed its marketing approach to business, so it
launched a raft of new brands in different categories and sectors.
Toothpaste, washing powder, sponge-cake mixes, nappies. The past 20
years have seen P&G become a truly global company, launching and buying
brands around the world.
Today it still sets the pace. P&G is leading the way in new media with
targets of spending as much as 80% of its ad budget on new media by 2003
while changing the way it does business with its marketing
communications suppliers. This year it introduced performance-related
payment for ad agencies. P&G, can lay claim to the title of marketing
company of the century. It has led the way in marketing in the 20th
century, with others following in its footsteps.
All the signs are that it will continue to do so.
Brands of the Century were chosen by the following panel:
Jane Bainbride - Features editor, Marketing
Jeremy Bullmore - Non-executive director, WPP Group
Mike Detsiny - Director general, The Marketing Society
Conor Dignam - Editor of Marketing
Winston Fletcher - Chairman of Bozell UK Group
Laura Mazur - Marketing columnist
Dominic Mills - Editorial director, Haymarket Business Publishing
Tony Scouller - Director, Mulcaster PR
Ray Snoddy - Media editor, The Times
Amanda Walsh - Managing director, Walsh Trott Chick Smith
Bob Wootton - Director of media and advertising affairs ISBA
21ST CENTURY BRAND: ?
Lastminute.com, a company founded a year ago to offer the cash rich, but
time poor, a chance to snap up last-minute bargains on the web, is
expected to be valued at pounds 40m when it floats next year.
Orange, the telecoms business started just six years ago, is today
valued at pounds 19bn by its new owner, German company Mannesmann. The
price tag puts Orange’s value higher than the combined worth of Marks &
Spencer, British Airways and British Aerospace. At the same time new
start up web ventures are being valued at literally billions of
The City, while helping to whip up the frenzied rush for web shares, is
at the same time warning that the online bubble must eventually
The normal rules of valuing business no longer apply. Even those who are
market leaders are undergoing massive changes in how they develop their
businesses and markets. In this context it is impossible to predict
which company will blaze the trail in the next century. Who will be the
new Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble or Microsoft?
For some, it will be the established companies that will continue to
dominate. The Microsoft legal battle in the US could help the company,
breaking it down into smaller more concentrated areas of business. Sony
and IBM will continue to play key roles in innovation and technological
development. Then there is Wal-Mart, now in the UK, and a world force in
BSkyB’s dominance of pay-TV in the UK continues, backed by the wallet
and drive of Rupert Murdoch. It continues to operate a dual policy of
pushing the delivery platform of dishes and boxes, and content such as
Premier League football and imported US programmes.
Yahoo! and other internet brands are already tremendously powerful
gateways to the internet. Recently Management Today and business
consultancy Bain & Company conducted a survey to rate the UK’s top ’e25’
businesses. The factors they took into account were the strength of the
concept, innovation, execution, traffic, financing, and public
Top of the table was Last minute.com, founded in 1996 by Brent Hoberman
and Martha Lane Fox. The company scored the highest because it is
working, with 300,000 registered users and 4.4 million page impressions
There are other new brands, such as Egg, delivering online banking,
which many feel have the promise to become major marketing forces in the
But the truth is no one knows which ones will succeed, or whether we’ll
be talking with nostalgia about some of them, in two years’ time. In
such a time of uncertainty and opportunity, it is impossible to predict
the brand of the next century - or even next decade.
That is what makes marketing so exciting.