Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

“Marketing is 100% science, not art.” – Check out what you can learn from this marketer’s long and colorful career! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

April 4, 2022

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more. 

A Note from Miles Everson:

Happy Monday, everyone! 

We hope you had a restful weekend with your loved ones. 

Let’s start the work week with inspiration from the world’s “Marketing Marvels.” Every Monday, we feature these people and highlight their work, insights, and experiences. 

Today, we’ll talk about someone who became famous in the marketing industry after turning his biggest blunder into a cash cow. 

Continue reading to know more about today’s Marvel and gain useful business and marketing insights from this person’s experiences. 

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Marketing Marvels 

Sergio Zyman, Coca-Cola’s former Chief Marketing Officer and a former Pepsi Marketer, has painted for himself a long and colorful career. 

He is well-known for his tenure at Coca-Cola, and how he was responsible for some of the beverage company’s hits and misses. 

In case you’re not aware, Zyman was responsible for successfully introducing Diet Coke to the market. Because of that, he thought his idea of the “New Coke” would receive an equal amount of favor―if not more… 

The Launch of the “New Coke” 

When he was Coca-Cola’s Chief Marketing Officer, Zyman argued that the best strategy to compete against Pepsi was to replace the 98-year old Coke recipe with a “better tasting” one. 

He called it the “New Coke.” 

Photo from The Coca-Cola Company

Unfortunately, the outcome didn’t go as he imagined it would. 


People were NOT happy with the new product! Moreover, the marketing campaign became the “biggest blunder in 1995.” 

So… how did Zyman deal with this? 

11 days after the “New Coke” was introduced, he and his team started working on bringing the old Coke back in its place and named it the Classic Coke

The return of the Classic Coke was a success. The Coca-Cola Company recovered pretty well after the “New Coke” debacle. 

When asked to comment about that controversy, Zyman said: 

“… the totality of the action ended up being positive.” 

Positive?! How could he say that when the new product caused some losses for the firm? 

Well, what he meant by that was the fiasco and the return of the Classic Coke made the company stronger

According to Tom Pirko, President of Bevmark Drinks Consultancy in New York, the “New Coke” blunder was a painful lesson that became a wake-up call “to do things differently and take risks in a way it had not done before.” 

Meanwhile, Roberto Goizueta, the late Chairman and Chief Executive of Coca-Cola, commented: 

“Judge the results. We get paid to produce results. We don’t get paid to be right.” 

That’s how Zyman’s missteps paved the way for better results for the Coke drink and the company in general. 

Lessons from Coke’s Most Memorable Marketer 

According to Zyman, successful marketing should be measured by whether or not it “sells stuff.” He says company executives should take back the strategic reins from advertising agencies. 

Simply said, he wants business executives―NOT external agencies―to define their marketing strategy then identify how to give it a voice! 

Let’s apply this principle in the context of the “New Coke”… 

Zyman’s marketing blunder was an example of how a large corporation fell asleep at the marketing switch. Sure, the company had research data to support claims that consumers would embrace the “New Coke.” However, that data wasn’t founded on the right questions. 

Instead of asking consumers if they liked the taste of the “New Coke,” Zyman said he and his team should have asked how customers would respond if the company replaced the Classic Coke. That would have resulted in a different scenario. 

Despite that, he didn’t regret experiencing the huge blunder. Why? 

The Coca-Cola Company’s marketing tactics leveled up! It was also then that Zyman’s team came up with 35 attributes to convince consumers to buy Coke. 

Rather than concentrate solely on taste or price, his Coke ads highlighted various qualities such as: 

  • Refreshing
  • Sociable
  • Trendy
  • Reliable
  • Cool

… and all sorts of other things. 

Because of that, the beverage company came back stronger than before. 

“The End of Marketing as We Know It” 

As an experienced marketer, Zyman has seen changes in the business world over the years. He said that over time, marketing has degenerated into something too abstract. That’s why people should stop thinking about marketing as simply advertising and start thinking about this field as something that includes brand positioning, competitive sets of skills, sources of revenue, and brand relevance. 

His main point? 

Marketing is 100% science―not art. He said, 

“There’s nothing artistic about marketing. There is art in the execution of a tactic, to be able to connect to the consumer in an imaginative way, but marketing in itself is a science. It’s like accounting. It’s understanding your competition, it’s about understanding who you’re going to grow business from. It’s understanding trends, it’s research, it’s science. It’s thinking it through and reinventing it all the time. The only way to do it is you do it with facts. It’s not a gut-based discipline―it’s a science; it’s a fact-based discipline.” 

We hope you got a lot of useful insights from Zyman’s long and colorful marketing career! 

Remember: Destination thinking and strategy are important elements in marketing. 

It’s all right if you don’t get things right the first time and make a few mistakes along the way. Similar to Zyman’s response to the “New Coke” fiasco, what matters is how you bounce back from your missteps and contribute to building a stronger and better company. 

“The biggest lesson is that preference is perishable. You could be blowing and going today and you’re in trouble tomorrow, and you can’t assume―you can’t believe in preference in perpetuity. You have to believe that preference is perishable, and therefore you have to rekindle the name and the desire of consumers to use and buy your brand. It’s my biggest lesson.”
 – Sergio Zyman, Coca-Cola’s former Chief Marketing Officer 

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.) 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some brand or company’s marketing strategy. 

… only for the audience to later find out that its product was a flop, or worse, that the brand or company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole. 

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the roles of marketing and communication are always paramount to that success. 

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies, marketers, and communicators. 

However, the difference between our articles and the numerous ones out there is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group) in keeping with a person’s leadership skills in the area of marketing and/or communication.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful. 

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing 
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities 
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