History of Coca-Cola 1982-1989:
The debut of Diet

The 1980s was the era of leg warmers, headbands and the fitness craze – and a time of much change and innovation at The Coca-Cola Company.

In 1981, Roberto C Goizueta became chairman of the board of directors and CEO, and set about a complete overhaul of the company with a strategy he called ‘intelligent risk taking’.

Among his bold moves was organising the numerous US bottling operations into a new public company, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. He also led the introduction of Diet Coke, the very first extension of the Coca-Cola trademark. Within two years, it had become the top low-calorie drink in the world.

One of Goizueta’s other initiatives in 1985 was the development of a new taste for Coca-Cola, the first change in formulation in 99 years. In taste tests people loved ‘New Coke’, but it soon became clear that the wider public had a deep emotional attachment to the original, and they pleaded for a return to the traditional formula. Critics called it the biggest marketing blunder ever. Coca-Cola listened, and the original product was returned to the market as Coca-Cola Classic. Before long, Coke began to increase its lead over the competition, a lead that continues to this day.

Up next: the 1990s and brand new drinks…

History of Coca Cola: 1886-1892
History of Coca Cola: 1893-1904
History of Coca Cola: 1905-1918
History of Coca Cola: 1919-1940
History of Coca Cola: 1941-1959
History of Coca Cola: 1960-1981
History of Coca Cola: 1982-1989
History of Coca Cola: 1990-1999
History of Coca Cola: 2000-Now