Coca-Cola Advertising History: Print Ads Through the Years

You don’t need a marketing degree to appreciate the brilliance behind Coca-Cola’s advertising history. This article offers a captivating timeline that showcases Coca-Cola’s most unforgettable ads, tracing the brand’s journey from its 19th-century beginnings to its current digital campaigns.

History of Coca-Cola in Ads

Ah, Coca-Cola! A name that reverberates around the globe and one that’s instantly synonymous with refreshment. It’s not just about the fizz, the taste, or the iconic bottle – these are just the surface elements of a far-reaching legacy. Behind the effervescence and the cultural ubiquity lies a story of advertising genius, a chronicle of a brand that knew how to talk to its audience in a language they understood. This is a tale not just of a beverage, but of the way that beverage has been sold to us, delighting our taste buds while tapping into our deepest desires and aspirations.

Our bubbly journey through this multi-faceted history will take us from the late 19th century, a time of tonics and snake-oil salesmen, all the way to our hyper-connected digital present. Along the way, we’ll see how Coca-Cola’s ads have not merely mirrored the public sentiment of their respective eras but have often helped to shape and define them. Whether serving as a lens through which to view societal shifts or acting as a harbinger of cultural change, Coca-Cola and its advertising campaigns offer us a fascinating look into the ever-changing cultural heartbeat that binds us all. So sit back, crack open a cold one if you’d like, and let’s embark on this fizzy odyssey through time.

The Birth of an Icon (1886-1900s)

Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John S. Pemberton had little idea that his fizzy invention would become a worldwide sensation. In those humble beginnings, Coca-Cola was promoted as a “brain tonic” and a “temperance drink.” Not only was it believed to cure headaches, but it was also advertised as a way to promote mental clarity. Newspaper ads heralded its medicinal benefits, while posters displayed elegant ladies sipping Coca-Cola. In short, it was a drink fit for the educated and sophisticated.

vintage Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1886-1900s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

old Coca Cola Advertising Posters

vintage Coca Cola Advertising Posters

retro Coca Cola Advertising Posters

The Standardization Era (1900s-1920s)

As we move into the 20th century, the Coca-Cola brand began to crystallize its image. The company standardized its now-famous script and introduced the curvaceous contour bottle. Advertising slogans like “The Pause That Refreshes” made their debut, signifying a crucial shift. Coca-Cola wasn’t just a medicinal elixir anymore – it was the drink of choice for leisure and relaxation. Colorful billboards and magazine spreads complemented this message, enticing a whole generation to take a break with a bottle of Coke.

retro Coca Cola Advertising Posters

vintage Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1900s-1920s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

old Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1900s-1920s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

retro Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1900s-1920s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1900s-1920s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

retro Coca Cola Advertising Posters

The Popularization Phase (1920s-1930s)

The Roaring Twenties brought an explosion of American culture, and Coca-Cola was in lockstep with the era’s optimism. The company sponsored music events and sporting contests, making Coca-Cola synonymous with fun and excitement. Even during the Great Depression, Coca-Cola offered a semblance of happiness for just five cents, further solidifying its place in the American psyche.

vintage Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1920s-1930s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

retro Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1920s-1930s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

vintage Coca Cola Advertising Posters

retro Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1920s-1930s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1920s-1930s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

Rise of Mass Media (1930s-1950s)

Radio and television offered new landscapes for advertisers, and Coca-Cola was eager to capitalize. Picture families gathered around the radio, spellbound by shows like “The Lone Ranger,” interrupted by catchy Coca-Cola jingles. As television sets found their way into homes, Coca-Cola’s advertising adapted again. The company produced some of the first-ever TV commercials, employing Hollywood glamour and catchy tunes to invite people into the comforting world of Coca-Cola.

1930s-1950s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1930s-1950s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1930s-1950s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1930s-1950s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1930s-1950s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1930s-1950s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1930s-1950s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

Cultural Movements & Coca-Cola (1960s-1980s)

This period was marked by societal change, from the civil rights movement to the counterculture of the late ’60s and ’70s. Coca-Cola adjusted its lens to capture these shifts. Ads like “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” became anthems for peace and unity. In the ’80s, Coca-Cola tapped into a more youthful, rebellious vibe with campaigns like “Coke Is It,” integrating itself seamlessly into the music and pop culture of the era.

1960s-1980s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1960s-1980s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1960s-1980s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1960s-1980s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1960s-1980s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1960s-1980s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1960s-1980s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1960s-1980s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

Globalization and Modern Marketing (1990s-2000s)

The world became a global village, and Coca-Cola was its drink. Campaigns like “Always Coca-Cola” spoke to a universal audience, emphasizing shared experiences and joyous moments. The company also embraced multiculturalism, showcasing people from diverse backgrounds enjoying Coke together in their ads. Innovations like polar bear mascots and animated commercials added a whimsical touch to Coca-Cola’s ever-expanding global image.

1990s-2000s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1990s-2000s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1990s-2000s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1990s-2000s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

1990s-2000s Coca Cola Advertising Posters

The Digital Age (2010s-Present)

In this connected era, Coca-Cola has made the transition from traditional media to digital platforms effortlessly. Social media campaigns, like “Share a Coke,” allowed people to personalize bottles with their names, making each Coke experience uniquely their own. Interactive online games and user-generated content have engaged younger audiences, while hashtags like #CocaColaLife have trended across platforms. The company is also keenly aware of the importance of sustainability and has launched eco-friendly campaigns to align with the values of today’s socially conscious consumers.

modern Coca Cola Advertising Posters

modern Coca Cola Advertising Posters

modern Coca Cola Advertising Posters

modern Coca Cola Advertising Posters

modern Coca Cola Advertising Posters

modern Coca Cola Advertising Posters

70 comments
  1. I have an original magazine ad for Coca-Cola. Circa 1944. Have a “Coke”= How are things goin’ ? . . . or being friendly in Newfoundland. Does anyone have an idea what it’s worth?

  2. Where could I get a copy of a early 1960’s to late 1950’s Coke Poster? My Cousin was on one of the Poster’s and I would love to have a copy.
    Thank you

  3. America’s Real Choice,” while by 1986, two slogans were used to differentiate the brands, with “Red, White You” for Coca-Cola classic and “Catch the Wave” for Coca-Cola.

  4. Could anyone direct me to archives for the Coca Cola adverts. Preferably with bilboards in South Africa. My dad was on one in the 70s and I think it would be awesome to see.

  5. Thanks for your informative post. Hope you will post this type of article very soon!!!

  6. Awesome and informative blog. I enjoyed 50 Ads coca-cola. This is truly a great idea about coca-cola history for me.i am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up…thank you.

  7. Its all about learning how a Brand can go so far from its root. Such an wonderful career Coca Cola has.

  8. Coca cola is amazing company with interesting history. Anyway, thanks for sharing these historical photos!

  9. coca cola has been #1 in all times,i love coca cola since i was 14 im 57 now

  10. Awesome pics! How about the song…”i’d like to teach the world….” Great post!

  11. I visited the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta was superb, saw a lot of these pictures there… well worth a visit!

  12. I HAVE A FULL PAGE ADD WITH TWO ADDS FOR COCA COLA, THE TOP ADD SAYS WHEREVER YOU GO NORTH, SOUTH,EAST, OR WEST….ALSO SAYS SEND FOR OUR INTERESTING BOOKLET “THE TRUTH ABOUT COCA COLA” N “WHENEVER YOU SEE AN ARROW THINK OF COCA COLA” AND THE BOTTOM HALVE IS A GOOD HOUSE KEEPING MAGAZINE ADD THAT IS DATED JULY 1911 TITLED “THE INSIDIOUS DRUG HABIT IN THE HOME” DR. RICHARD C. CABOT. I ALSO HAVE A MAGAZINE ADD WITH TWO WOMAN SANDING UP ONE IS DATED 1889 N THE OTHER IS DATED 1915 sAYING “FOR 26 YEARS AMERICA’S BEAUTY N BRAINS HAVE FOUND DELIGHT IN COCA COLA”

  13. I think Coca cola is one of the most famous soft drink all over the world and it is one of the my best soft drink.

  14. Hey. Where did you find those pictures? Me and some friends have to do a presentation about Coca-Cola and we need some documents. We would like an analysis of those ads, do you know wher could we find it? And if you know something else about Coca, please tell us! 🙂

  15. Coke has always done a very effective job of advertising. They know how to pull on your sentimental strings.

  16. I have an original poster on card board, which was normally displayed at shops selling coke, with a lady with dark hair, in a circle, holding a bottle of coke. The wording So Refreshing is at the top of the poster and in the bottom is Drink Coca Cola. Do you know from which year – my quess is prior to 1960

  17. This is simply Great. I find this series of Coke fascinating. THERE’S ONLY ONE COKE The Best ever THANK YOU

  18. It seems like coca-cola company had always perfect marketers and developers. Coca-cola advertise and ads are looking great in 1889 also.

  19. I like that 1909 poster of coca cola. Didn’t also realize like skin moles that coca cola have gone this far. Its already a century. =0 I hope coca cola will continue their service for more years. I like coca cola!

  20. why is everyone thanking them for sharing. its really not that great, you guys are weird.

  21. Didn’t realize that coca cola started manufacturing for a century already.

  22. I agree with slam mounir coca cola ads in 70’s its good and now is getting cooler ads.

  23. Was wondering when the first ‘Holiday’s are coming’ coca colca truck advert was first shown. Can’t find this info anywhere and need it for school. Please help!

  24. great old ones, but it’s missing some of new ones like coke side of life

  25. Looks like your question thing at the end of the post worked. Also not having to sign in is nice too. Good job.

  26. I made a report about Coca Cola and this article gave me an image of how it is being developed through.
    Get your Coke anywhere for 5 cents, right 🙂

  27. I am sorry to inform you of this, but you have some things wrong.. The first picture is NOT in 1889. That is of Lillian Norton Nordica who did not work for Coca-Cola until 1903. She was their second famous model. This is from a Coca-Cola advertisement about 1905. Then down the page a bit you have it listed at 1900 which is not correct either. That is Hilda Clark the first model Coca Cola used on their advertisement tins. This painting is likely about 1895. She quit when she married a millionaire in 1903. So you might want to change those around. Hilda did indeed start working for C-C in 1889 but that is not when, according to most, say this painting was done The one with the green outfit and the hat with the white fluffy feathers on it..The first picture was taken in 1903 of Lillian Norton Nordica but was not used as a tin until 1905.I have the original photo this was taken from too. You may or may not know this but those are very famous Coca Cola ladies that you would want to get correct in order to make your site more trust worthy. Lillian died ultimately as a result of a shipwreck in 1914. It took her awhile but she never recovered from it.

    1. “…Lillian died ultimately as a result of a shipwreck in 1914. It took her awhile but she never recovered from it….”

      How does someone recover from dying?

    2. I bet she did not recover from it “It took her awhile but she never recovered from it”. Thanks for the information wondering how valid your info is.

  28. Hey… enjoyed the adds so much !! However, I have a framed coke add… the one advertised here as one from the 1900. Is it worth something now !!! Thanks so much.

  29. Looks like your question thing at the end of the post worked. Also not having to sign in is nice too. Good job. Nice list. Thanks.

  30. Great work. A lot of effort and a valuable record. Congratulations and very well done.

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