We are happy to share the 30th episode of The Marketing Rescue Podcast with you!
In today’s episode, we talk about an extremely well-known brand that has a very interesting, historical story. Now, what was once a concoction of scraps in the Third Reich, and then a fizzy brightly colored soda in Italy, is now a drink shared internationally by all types of people.
We discuss the importance of social responsibility in both – traditional marketing and nostalgia branding. When is it valuable to use ‘good old times’ and when better to leave the past in the past?
Today’s topic – CocaCola in Europe and the invention of Fanta. Did you know that Fanta originated as a Coca-Cola substitute during the American trade embargo of Nazi Germany, which affected the availability of Coca-Cola ingredients, in 1940?
By 1933 Max Keith, a German-born man described as an “imposing leader” became the head of Coke’s subsidiary. After he took over, it went from selling 100,000 cases of Coca-Cola in 1933 to over 4 million in 1938.
From around 1936 to about 1940 the German economy was booming. During that time Keith paid extra attention to marketing Coca-Cola to the hardworking people of his country. To do this, he had to establish the reputation of Coca-Cola in Germany which meant adapting the brand so that it wasn’t seen as an American icon, but as a brand fit for German consumption. Before he took over the company in 1938, Keith saw an opportunity for the rebranding he had in mind. One of Keith’s first marketing triumphs for the company was supplying massive amounts of Coke to the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics.
Keith’s aggressive and effective marketing at the 1936 Olympics featured more than just the Coca-Cola logo. Like most brands in Germany at the time, their logo appeared beside waving banners emblazoned with swastikas. His efforts to rebrand Coca-Cola in Germany involved taking steps to identify Coke with Nazism, including sending sales teams to mass patriotic events.
In 1940, Keith’s chemists invented Fanta. With little to no soft-drink alternatives, Fanta exploded in popularity. Nevertheless, after the Allies entered Germany in 1945, the production of Fanta ceased. Keith then handed over the profits of his creation to Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta and when the German and Dutch Coca-Cola branches were reunited with their parent company Fanta production was discontinued entirely.
In 2015, Coca-Cola launched this ad celebrating Fanta’s 75th anniversary. The ad references the drinks Nazi History The company faced critical backlash for its apparent reference to World War II-era Germany as the “Good Old Times.” Specifically, the ad says, “This German icon turns 75 years old. And to celebrate this, we are bringing back the feeling of the Good Old Times with the new Fanta Classic.” In response to the backlash following the ad, Coca-Cola took the video down and issued a formal apology.
From Fanta’s origin, we learn what happens when necessity meets moral ambiguity. Max Keith needed a product to sell and did the next best thing to creating something out of thin air by creating one out of scraps. Keith is also an example of how the determination to keep a company afloat during a trying time can pay off in the long run.
From Fanta’s 75th Anniversary, we learn that companies have to be careful when using phrases like “The Good Old Times” in advertising in case the times they’re referencing refer to times of rampant sexism, racism, oppression, war, or genocide. When it comes to long-standing companies or companies with questionable origins, it might be better to leave the nostalgia behind.
We speak about:
[04:25] CocaCola’s history and historical legacy
[06:50] CocaCola reaches Germany
[11:30] Cola’s branding in Nazi Germany
[14:45] Invention of Fanta
[23:50] Historical lesson of ‘a brand promise’ and its relevance today
[26:00] Fanta as we know it
[29:40] Fanta’s ‘good old times’ ad in 2015
[31:30] What can be learned
Episode Script Writer: Grace Wall
Research Analyst: Gertruda Gilyte
Enjoy the show!