Since the birth of Coca-Cola in 1886, Coca-Cola has grown from small beginnings in Atlanta to becoming the World’s most valuable brand. The company has continued to gain momentum, capitalizing on the rapidly growing beverage industry and is now one of most well-known brands in the world. With its push for global reach, Coca-Cola now operates in over 200 countries (all but two countries) with over 84,000 suppliers. According to Business Insider, 94% of the worlds population recognizes Coca-cola’s red and white logo.

Currently, over 70% of Coca-Cola’s business income is generated from non-US sources, however, Coca-Cola has always remained true to its roots as an American product, closely linked with the comfort and leisure that has been related to the lifestyle of an American.

The executives at Coca-Cola share the core conviction that the drink would be universally welcomed and celebrated abroad. This conviction which ushered in a large-scale corporate restructuring and global expansion during the first part of the 20th century.

Global Expansion

Coca-Cola through 65 years(Source:

Coca-Cola was invented in an era of U.S. history marked by the advance and consolidation of corporations. The company was a leader in both branding and distribution during the last half of the 19th century. Pre-packaged and brand name items were in demand and were available to a growing population from a variety demographics. From the beginning, Coca-Cola worked hard to communicate and create a reputation of high quality.

Coca-Cola’s historical path to globalization included indirect and direct aid from the U.S. nation-state. They expanded their profits as a multinational corporation, and used their alignment with the military to expand their global infrastructure. Coca-Cola endeavored to reinvent its brand as a cosmopolitan, global product, but what made this especially challenging, was Coca-Cola’s domestic history, which included the company’s historical efforts to position itself as part of the American way of life. The challenge to this was the popularity of Norman Rockwell images of the soda fountain at the drug store and white, middle-class families gathered together on the porch of the white-picket fenced home and at the kitchen table. The company’s first advertisements were geared toward the United States market with images of white American consumers. This strategy remained the same until World War II, when Coca-Cola began to include images of foreign consumers in its magazine advertisements.

The story of Coca-Cola’s global expansion and the company’s celebration as the model of American corporate success in globalization during the 20th century has its roots in WWII. In 1940, General Dwight Eisenhower requested a shipment of 3 million filled bottles of Coca-Cola and equipment and materials for filling 20,000 bottles per day with the instruction to "ship without displacing military cargo." In order to fill the order, The Coca-Cola Company and the U.S. government sent a civilian employee to North Africa on a priority plane. This wartime opportunity led to wide-scale foreign expansion for The Coca-Cola Company.

The Coca-Cola employees that followed served as civilian military personnel and were assigned to army units and were dispatched with the troops to bottle the drink on site. Not only did big profit ensue from war-time sales, the company's greatest benefit came from introducing Coca-Cola to new countries with new buyers. Coca-Cola employees remained on location even post war. The company acquired success early on in Cuba and Panama then plants in Puerto Rico and the Philippines followed shortly after.

Coca-Cola executives continued to trust that the future of the company would thrive in overseas markets. And in 1948, after sugar rations were lifted, the total gross profit of the Coca-Cola Company grew to nearly $126 million dollars. That year they held the first international convention of Coca-Cola bottlers that included representatives from forty-two countries around the world.

The whole world wanted Coke, France gave in to their resistance of Coke then nations like Germany also shared in this love. Egyptian natives nick-named coca-cola the endearing name “Cacoola.” Local businesses in Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, and Africa signed bottling contracts with Coca-cola.

By the 1960s, Coca-Cola had a presence in over 110 countries and this earned not only Coca-cola but America a fond presence around the world.

While Coca-Cola was being exported to many of the world’s non-caucasian peoples, African Americans in the U.S. lived under laws across the South that denied them the right to drink or even buy Coca-Cola alongside white Americans. African Americans several occasions boycotted the drink because of unequal hiring practices at Coca-Cola plants. For over fifty years, Coca-Cola counted on African Americans as consumers but totally ignored them in their marketing strategies. However, following the war, in 1953, Coca-Cola began marketing its products to African- Americans.

Global Peace and Unity

Coca-Cola’s landmark “Hilltop” television commercial of 1971, which featured a chorus of young
people from around the world singing “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it
company . . . I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.”

Bill Backer, creative director on the Coca-Cola account for McCann-Erickson, has a vision for Coca-Cola that poured over into the creation of the commercial, “I began to see a bottle of Coca-Cola as more than a drink... [it was] a tiny bit of commonality between all peoples, a universally liked formula…I could see and hear a song that treated the whole world as if it were a person – a person the singer would like to help and get to know. “

His lyrics were appealing in a time where youth across the world were taking action in social movements for domestic and international inequalities. Peace and love became a desirable alternative to the violent images of protest and war that flooded the world. The folksong images appealed to the young culture that valued nature and peace. The ad communicated compassion and unity through the act of sharing a coke. Backer’s commercial was successful in reaching a wide-spread audience and making them feel united.

Lasting Impact 

Coca-Cola Vending Machines 
If you stacked up Coke's 2.8 million vending machines, they would take up 150.2 million cubic feet of space -- the size of 4 Empire State Buildings.

The Coca-Cola Company was successful in securing the highest international presence in the soft-drink industry during the 20th century. Given the current climate of globalization, new technologies have made international business a possibility through remote operations. Coca-Cola is a leader in promoting diversity in the workplace and now operates in all but two countries in the world and has continued to hold a sweet spot in the hearts of people all across the globe. So go grab a refreshing Coke today and be united with your friends both near and far.