ECONOMICS: The Sun Never Sets On Cacoola

  • Share
  • Read Later

(See Cover)

In Brazil, some misguided people vow that it increases sexual prowess, others are under the delusion that it makes a man impotent. In Haiti, they say it is the only thing that will cause Damballah and his wife Ayida Oueddo, a pair of the chief deities of the voodoo pantheon, to put in an appearance at a voodoo session. Chinese bankers have taken to serving it instead of tea, and Italian aristocrats offer it to their guests instead of champagne. Graceful gondolas carry it along the narrow canals of Venice, and sturdy, resigned burros tote it into the dusty Mexican hills. Bright red signs proclaim its worth in the shadow of the Matterhorn and beneath the blank, unastonished eyes of the great Sphinx. The gentle burps which it evokes from the drinker are heard amid the bustle of Parisian sidewalk cafes and amid the tinkling of Siamese temple bells.

People almost everywhere are buying it as if it were the biggest glass of ambrosia in the world for a nickel. Actually, according to the official and modest definition of its makers, it is only "a soft drink . . . best described as delicious and refreshing." Its name, of course, is Coca-Cola.

The Essence of America. The late William Allen White once described Coke as the "sublimated essence of all America stands for." To find something as thoroughly native American hawked in half a hundred languages on all the world's crossroads from Arequipa to Zwolle is still strangely anomalous, somewhat like reading Dick Tracy in French or seeing a Japanese actor made up to look like Abraham Lincoln. But it is reassuring. It is also simpler, sharper evidence than the Marshall Plan or a Voice of America broadcast that the U.S. has gone out into the world to stay.

Coke's peaceful near-conquest of the world is one of the remarkable phenomena of the age. It has put itself (in the phrase of a Coca-Cola executive with a literary bent) "always within an arm's length of desire." And where there is no desire for it, Coke creates desire. Its advertising, which garnishes the world from the edge of the Arctic to the Cape of Good Hope, has created more new appetites and thirsts in more people than an army of dancing girls bearing jugs of wine. It has brought refrigeration to sweltering one-ox towns without plumbing, and it has transformed men one generation removed from jungle barter into American salesmen with an irresistibly sincere approach. It has successfully defied the concerted attacks of all Communist mouthpieces which denounce it as a drink vile, imperialistic and poisonous. Its makers suspect that it is the biggest thing since America provided oil to light the lamps of China and celluloid fables to feed the dreams of the world.

Coca-Cola is not what the non-American thinks of asa typical U.S. business, like steel or automobiles. It is not a product of the vast natural resources of the land, but of the American genius for business organization. It rests on such intangibles as market analysis, sales training, advertising and financial decentralization. Increasingly, through the past three decades, U.S. business progress has been a matter of such intangibles. It was time the world caught up with that fact, which Coca-Cola was demonstrating in an edifice of international business, built on a little water, sugar and flavoring.

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9