Vintage Coca-Cola Ads
From the very beginning, the Coca-Cola Company has believed in the power of advertising. This belief has propelled Coke to one of the most recognizable brands in the World. Fun, exciting, colorful, entertaining, and memory making are a few of the words and phrases that can be used when describing Coca-Cola advertising. Here we present a collection of 42 vintage Coca-Cola ads from 1886 to the 1950s. Enjoy!
Coca-Cola was first sold to the public at a store called Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia on May 8, 1886. John Pemberton, Coca-Cola original founder, ran the first advertising campaign a little later that month, on May 29th to be exact, in the Atlanta Journal newspaper. The first ad promoted Coca-Cola as “Delicious! Refreshing! Exhilarating! Invigorating!”
May 29, 1886
Pemberton ran the above Coca-Cola ad on May 29, 1886 in the Atlanta Journal. Using the words “Delicious! Refreshing! Exhilarating! Invigorating!” to describe his soda, this was the first promotional ad ever ran for the soft drink giant.
This is believed to be the first “coupon” ever offered in the United States. This ticket for a free glass of Coca-Cola was distributed beginning in 1887. By 1913, more than 8.5 million of the promotional tickets had been redeemed.
The first known Coke promotional calendar was issued in 1891. Note the ad for Coca-Cola at top-right and the ad for De-Lec-Ta-Lave at top left. The item featured at left was a mouthwash product owned by Asa Candler, one of Coke’s early owners. After 1892, Candler realized that Coca-Cola deserved its own branding and no longer cross-promoted other products with the beverage.
It is believed that Coca-Cola distributed at least one calendar each year after 1891, but calendars from 1905 and 1906 have never been found. Early calendars touted the health benefits of Coke with statements like “Relieves Mental and Physical Exhaustion” and “Cures Headaches.” The 1908 calendar featured the slogan “Good to the Last Drop,” which was later trademarked by Maxwell House Coffee (and is still their slogan today).
Late 1890s / Early 1900s
The First Celebrities – The first celebrity to be featured in Coca-Cola advertising was famous music hall singer, Hilda Clark. Ms. Clark was featured on calendars, serving trays, metal advertising signs, posters, bookmarks, note pads and other advertising products from the late 1890s to 1904.
Beginning in 1905, Clark was replaced in Coca-Cola advertising by an even more recognizable personality of the time, Lillian Nordica. Lillian was one of the earliest American soprano singers to become successful in the European opera circle. During her 11 seasons at the Metropolitan Opera, she sang in nearly 200 performances in 19 different roles. Her likeness graced calendars, magazine advertisements, posters, sampling coupons, serving trays and other promotional items.
Above is the first ever magazine advertisement for Coca-Cola. The full-page ad featured Lillian Nordica and ran in Good Housekeeping and other leading magazines of the day. Attached to the bottom of the ad was a promotional coupon for one free glass of Coca-Cola. Nearly $43,000 worth of coupons were redeemed in 1905.
1907 vintage Coca-Cola advertisement from Good Housekeeping magazine.
1924 Coca-Cola advertisement for six pack of bottled Coke. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1920s before bottling began to overtake the fountain business in terms of the number of gallons that were served to consumers.
Coca-Cola first used Santa Claus in their advertising in a 1931 Saturday Evening Post magazine ad. The artwork was painted by Haddon Sundblom, who continued to paint a new Coke Santa every year up until 1964.
Vintage Coca-Cola Ads: Artist Norman Rockwell painted six different illustrations to be used in Coca-Cola ads from 1928 to 1935. This piece from 1935, “Out Fishin,” depicted a young boy fishing on a tree stump, drinking a Coke with his dog by his side.
SOURCES AND FURTHER READING:
https://www.coca-colacompany.com/annual-review/2011/pdf/TCCC_125Years_Booklet_Lo.pdf (PDF Download)