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The Coca-Cola Bottle is 100 years young
2015-03-09
By Eddie Zhang

IT’S a bottle that people can recognize even when they feel it in the dark. It’s just so unique that it could be identified when shattered on the ground.

No one can even guess where the Coca-Cola business might be today if it were not for the distinct package that distinguishes the product of Coca-Cola bottlers around the world.

The Coca-Cola bottle is 100 years young this year. To mark this milestone, The Coca-Cola Company is celebrating with a year-long campaign that includes new advertising, a music anthem and a series of art exhibits featuring works from some of the world’s leading contemporary artists including Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Peter Blake.

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“Since its creation in 1915, the Coca-Cola bottle has achieved iconic status as a symbol of refreshment and uplift and it remains an important asset for our business today,” said Marcos de Quinto, Chief Marketing Officer, The Coca-Cola Company. “The campaign, which will be executed in over 130 countries, is our invitation to consumers around the world to share in the specialness of an ice-cold Coca-Cola.”

In early 1900s, The Coca-Cola Company decided to offer Coca-Cola in a bottle, in addition to the traditional soda fountain, capitalizing on its popularity and making it available to everyone. However, due to the popularity of the Coca-Cola bottle — which featured a simple, easily replicable design — competitors began imitating the bottle.

In 1915, The Coca-Cola Bottling Company challenged glass companies across the US to develop a new bottle. Inspired by the shape and lines of the cocoa bean, the Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana developed a bottle concept. A committee of bottlers and Coca-Cola executives selected the design and, in 1916, the Coca-Cola bottle was born.

To protect the secrecy of the bottle, the patent submissions were made without the signature embossed Coca-Cola script lettering. The Coca-Cola Company officials called for the new bottle to be colored “Georgia Green,” in homage to the home state of The Coca-Cola Company.

Distinctive contour

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With its unmistakable curves and a distinctive contour, the bottle has become a global icon, inspiring a century’s worth of signature moments in film, social history, design and the fine arts.

Throughout history, the Coca-Cola bottle has been dubbed the “hobbleskirt bottle,” named for the popular fashion trend during the 1920s, and the “Mae West” bottle — after the actress’s famous curves. The first reference to the bottle as a “contour” occurred in a 1925 French Magazine, La Monde, which described the Coca-Cola bottle with a distinctive contour shape. To the general public, the shape is just “the Coke bottle.”

The first popular artist to incorporate the Coca-Cola bottle in a painting was Salvatore Dali, who included the bottle in his 1943 work, Poetry in America. Making art out of daily life, Andy Warhol featured the Coca-Cola bottle in his modern paintings. Warhol’s “Green
Coca-Cola Bottles” series is currently part of a collection at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Artists such as Howard Finster, Tom Wesselmann, Ulrich Walter and Carlos Vergar have also featured the Coca-Cola bottle in their masterpieces.

In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a picture of Santa Claus drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola, joining the brand with the holiday icon for the first time. In 1950, Coca-Cola in a bottle was the first commercial product to appear on the cover of Time Magazine.

Interestingly, in different regions of the world, eyeglasses with very thick lenses in the frame are called “Coke bottle glasses.” Blues players have also been known to use necks from Coca-Cola bottles to play slide guitar, coining the term “bottleneck slide.”

So far, more than 300 billion Coca-Cola bottles have been sold since its creation in 1915.

Among the highlights of the Coke Bottle 100 campaign, the High Museum of Art, in collaboration with The Coca-Cola Company, will present The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100, a four-part exhibit that will salute the Coca-Cola bottle and its special place in the worlds of art, design and commerce over the past 100 years.

For the first time ever, two original Andy Warhol Coke Bottle paintings will be displayed alongside more than 100 original bottle-inspired artworks and photographs.

In addition, a traveling art exhibition, The Coca-Cola Bottle Art Tour: Inspiring Pop Culture for 100 Years, will visit more than 15 countries and travel 62,000 miles around the world in 2015.

Other interactive activities will include the launch of 14 new television and digital films, Out of Home and print campaign featuring iconic celebrities, New Music Anthem from emerging artist, Francesco Yates, Kiss The Past Hello — A book published by Assouline and featuring classic and contemporary images of the bottle as well as Story of the Coca-Cola Bottle App — Interactive journey for consumers through the Coca-Cola archives in Atlanta.


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