Critical evaluation of coca cola’s corporate communication strategy

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Communication is the medium through which companies’ both large and small access the vital resources they need to operate (van Riel 1995). Without effective and integrated communication systems an organization will be unable to develop an appropriate structure for its corporate communication strategy. Given that its corporate communication entails selectively communicating the organization’s views and objectives to its stakeholders (whom it relies on for the success of its business), it can therefore be described as a key management strategy.

This report will critically assess Coca Cola’s Corporate Communication strategy through the evaluation of communication frameworks and models. It will look at the internal structure of Coca-Cola’s organization and how the company utilises corporate communication strategies to both epitomize their corporate identity to stakeholders and improve their reputation. It also looks at the corporate ethics and culture of the company and the impact of Corporate Communication management on the organisation

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1.1 Background Information

The Coca-Cola Company:

Coca-Cola was invented on May 8, 1886, in Atlanta, Georgia by Dr. John Stith Pemberton. It was first offered as a fountain beverage by mixing Coca-Cola syrup with carbonated water. Coca-Cola was then patented in 1887, when another Atlanta pharmacist and businessman, Asa Candler bought the formula for Coca Cola from inventor John Pemberton for $2,300. It was registered as a trademark in 1893 and by 1895 it was being sold in every state and territory in the United States.

By the late 1890s, Coca Cola was one of America’s most popular fountain drinks, largely due to Candler’s aggressive marketing of the product. With Asa Candler, now at the helm, the Coca Cola Company increased syrup sales by over 4000% between 1890 and 1900. In 1899, The Coca-Cola Company began franchised bottling operations in the United States.

Today the Coca-Cola Company operates in more than 200 countries and markets nearly 500 brands and 3,000 beverage products. The company employs over 92,400 associates worldwide and has a consumer serving (per day) of nearly 1.6 billion, with a net operating revenue of over $31.9billion (as of December 31, 2008). Throughout the world today, no other product is as immediately recognizable by its brand as Coca-Cola. (, 2009)


‘Corporate’ refers to complete, entire or total entities of the organization, while ‘communication’ means to impart, share or make common. Therefore, ‘corporate communication’ can be defined as a total communication of the organization or integrating different messages of organizations under one banner (Christensen et al. 2007).

Van Riel and C. Fombrun (2006, p.25), cite Jackson’s (1987) definition of corporate communication as ‘the total communication activity generated by a company to achieve its planned objectives’. That total communication represents all the different forms of communication that is occurring within the organization,

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