While I’m no expert, it feels like I’ve been talking about beverages for quite a while. As I looked back through the archives, it seems I first started talking about them in 2001/2002 on my personal blog — coinciding with Amy and I getting married and the launch of both the discussion forums, the original home for my beverage reviews.
And wouldn’t you know it, one of the early beverages discussed was the then-coming soon Vanilla Coke. This drink went on to big things, sparking quite a boost in drink sales for Coke, resulting in a diet version launched that same year and eventually Pepsi getting curious and launching Pepsi Vanilla.
By late 2003/early 2004, the brand was on the decline and needed new life. The packaging was redesigned and given a “V” identity. Eventually, all good things came to an end as Coke announced it would be phasing out Vanilla Coke in 2005 — albeit with the odd notation that they might bring it back… “I don’t know if we have ever taken out a flavor and brought it back to the market, but the landscape continues to change and we want to be as flexible as possible to adapt to the changing landscape,” said Scott Williamson, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola.
Coke’s replacement for Vanilla Coke? Coca-Cola Black Cherry Vanilla, a drink that frankly was not very good. Plus, the marketing suffered from Coke’s new identity program, which insisted that the phrase “Coca-Cola” came first in a product name, thus you didn’t know what to call it… Coke Black Cherry Vanilla, Black Cherry Vanilla Coke, Coca-Cola Black Cherry Vanilla? It’s like Disney’s California Adventure or the Disney-MGM Studios… folks need short names to associate with the brands, thus the customer-created “DCA” and “MGM” phrases.
Eventually, Coca-Cola Black Cherry Vanilla was discontinued and Coke announced that Vanilla Coke was coming back in 2007. And back it is… under a different name.
Introducing (once again)… Coca-Cola Vanilla!
Of course, people are still going to call this Vanilla Coke. Once you’ve created a brand name that was so established, it makes no sense to try to release the same product under a new name. But alas, some Coke marketing exec probably pulled out some goofy PowerPoint slides and pushed this name through. Moron!
I’ve had the new Coca-Cola Vanilla and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the same formula as the drink formerly-known-as Vanilla Coke. So get out there and enjoy an old favorite once again, because you don’t see soft drink flavors make a return that often!