A Good Man – Chapter 23 – JohnA Passaro
The distance between insanity and genius
Lies only in success.
In the 1980’s Coca-Cola’s lead over Pepsi had been slowly and steadily slipping for quite some time.
In 1985 Coca-Cola decided to change the 99-year-old formula of Coke in hopes of recapturing its lost consumers.
This was a big event in the world at the time.
This new version of Coke was introduced with no shortage of hype and fanfare.
On April 23rd, 1985 Coca-Cola announced they would no longer be making any more of the original
formula version of Coca-Cola, they would only be making New Coke going forward.
With high anticipation, people awaited the arrival of this New Coke.
As would anyone who owned a beverage center, Bill stocked up on New Coke.
He bought pallets and pallets of it.
He tied up money for New Coke, money that should have gone elsewhere, feeling that the turnover in the inventory of New Coke would be quick and he would then be able to use that money and more for its intended purposes.
The highly anticipated day finally came.
New Coke arrived.
And people hated it.
That may be putting it too lightly.
People loathed the taste of New Coke.
Bill had a warehouse full of it.
One day a customer asked Bill what he thought of the taste of New Coke.
Bill replied, “I hate it.”
Bill gave his honest opinion regardless of what it would cost him financially.
For the person on the street who had no vested interest in New Coke’s success to say they hated the taste was one thing, but to hear it from a man who had a warehouse full of it was quite another.
The negative opinion of the taste of New Coke quickly created a panic run in the original formula version of Coke.
It was in low supply, and the company stated they were not going to make any more.
Original Coca-Cola was like gold.
Wholesalers were calling Bill, offering to buy all of his inventory of original Coke at prices much higher than those offered for sale to his customers.
He didn’t sell one case to any wholesaler.
He kept it all for his customers.
And he sold it at its original price.
Bill didn’t gouge any frenzied customer looking for the original Coke, he sold whatever he had, whenever he had it.
He could have just pretended he didn’t have any more cases, as passing time would have only made those cases more valuable.
Some might call him a bad businessman, as some of his partners in other stores were getting much higher prices for their cases. They decided to sell only half of what they had in inventory, and save the other half for when prices skyrocketed even more.
Looking back at this now, I would say Bill was a businessman for the people.
Doing what was right for his customers always came before doing what was profitable for himself.
And by doing so he became beloved.
People define being rich in a narrow way they count the money one has.
They never look to see how one acquired the money.
If the definition of being rich was to count one’s worth to their community, Bill was rich.
The outcry about the taste of New Coke was so bad that on July 11, 1985, Coca-Cola held a press conference to officially announce the return of original Coke, and to admit they had made a mistake.
The supply of the old version of Coke would be replenished.
The price of the original Coca-Cola immediately dropped all over the Island.
In Peconic Beverage, it stayed the same price as it had been for the last 77 days.
The original price.
Some people call New Coke the worst mistake in the history of marketing.
But there are a few who believe it was the greatest ploy in the history of marketing.
The data support the latter.
When Original Coke was reinstated, sales jumped 5%.
For years they were declining and Pepsi was catching up.
Now Coke was pulling away from Pepsi again.
By taking away their beloved Coke altogether, people realized how much they really loved it.
A brilliant marketing plan.
Life is the same way.
Sometimes life takes away something we have grown accustomed to and in its absence, we realize how much we really loved it.
There are life-changing events that happen that take away life as we once knew it, and by doing so make us realize just how much we loved the original version of life.
Even though at times we thought we didn’t.
Sometimes you don’t realize how much you love something until it is gone.
Those lucky enough to get their original version of their life back after a life-changing event, truly recognize life’s great plan.