Sunday, March 3, 2013

Coke: The Real Thing

Remember when Coke used the slogan "It's the Real Thing"? Maybe not, unless you're as old as I am (in which case, I offer my condolences). That slogan was used in the sixties and seventies, although variations on the 'real' theme have come back periodically since.

It's not bad from a product positioning standpoint, building as it does on a positive attribute of the brand: Coke is, after all, the original cola, and the slogan implies that that fact makes parvenu brands like Pepsi and RC in some way unreal.

The problem is that it isn't true, at least in my opinion. Here's a picture of the real Real Thing, hanging out on my kitchen counter:

One of the things I love about the Philippines is that Coke is still made with sugar here. Not surprising, given that sugar is a major crop here, while corn -- not so much. In a future post I may rant a bit about the politics behind the use of HFCS instead of sugar in soft drinks in the US. For the moment, it is sufficient to say that consumers are getting screwed by agribusiness and congress.

Anyway, back to the point: Coke made with cane sugar. And even better ... in glass bottles! It may be purely psychological, but soft drinks taste much better to me in bottles, rather than cans or (yuk!) plastic. To complete things, the bottles are small, as I remember Coke as a kid -- these are 200ml (about 6.7 ounces). There also are larger bottles, 350ml I think (Pepsi is available in larger bottles, too). Besides the nostalgia factor, I like the small bottles because that's about all the Coke I want most of the time.

Another thing is that I can buy them from the local sari-sari store just outside the gate of my apartment compound -- a 30-second walk, at most. The cost is eight pesos (about twenty cents) per bottle. There's supposed to be a deposit, too, but the lady who runs the store has me on the honor system -- I buy two bottles for sixteen pesos and when I return the empties, I can get two more. It feels good to be trusted.

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