Taking On Coke's Classic Curvy Glassware
The profile of a Coke bottle and the classic distinctly-shaped Coke glass are (seemingly) eternal icons of American nostalgia. Many retro pop-culture icons are tied to a specific time period; the Elvis mic, a disco ball, Rubik's cube... but the Coke glass represents a sort of American uber-nostalgia. Coke has spent millions protecting and propagating their iconography for decades, and small wonder. Few brands traffic in universally recognizable and perpetual nostalgia. Anyone who sees a Coke glass is transported to their first childhood sips of Coke, whenever that may have been.
Other beverages have tried taking a sip from Coke's marketing efforts, down to creating their own distinctive curvy glassware. Remember any of these?
In the 60s, 7 Up wasn't doing too well against cola drinks. Anything non-cola was unhip, uncool - the kind of thing your parents drank because it was less gassy than Coke. The slogan was an innocuous "you like it, it likes you". 7 Up went to change the game when they took on the very concept of cola directly, and Coke specifically. 7 Up manufactured inverted Coke glasses, and emblazoned them with "the Uncola".
Remember those ads from the 70s starring Geoffrey Holder explaining the difference between the cola nut and the uncola nut? The campaign didn't produce the market upset that 7 Up hoped for, though it is significant as being one of the first soft drink ads to cast a person of color. I remember the uncola glass appearing in those commercials, but I never knew that it was an honest-to-goodness object in the real world. I've got one, and I'd love to use it (for drinking RC... I'm such a stinker!), but the shape makes it a bear to keep clean.
Just in case you think this style of marketing could never happen again, upside-down marketing returned in 2002 with 7-up introducing a drink called "dnL". Uh huh... if you look at the logo upside down, it looks like "7 Up". The market heaved a sigh of disinterest, with dnL lost among the already crowded shelf of cans of existing variants of 7 Up.
Tab also set out to be an uncola, but in the soft drink war, this is a case of friendly fire. Tab was a diet cola that hit the market in the early 60s created surprisingly by Coke themselves. Back then, they feared that a product called "Diet Coke" would dilute their main brand, so they introduced Tab as a whole new product. Tab was quite successful for decades (there was even Tab Root Beer, and Tab Orange), though no matter how much they marketed to men, the pink can was more likely clutched in the hands of a flight attendant or hairdresser.
In 1982 Coca-Cola introduced Diet Coke, which was a massive hit. The new Diet Coke reduced Tab to more of a specialty brand, mostly in countries outside of the US. I remember TV commercials that featured a glass of Tab animated to cinch in like a shapely waste, but again I had no idea that such glassware existed in the real world. makes sense that Coke might know some glassblowers who could take on the shapely challenge. To bring us down to earth again with a burp, the Tab glass is cool but it's too much trouble to keep clean.
I'm going to keep my eyes open for more drinking glasses that were basically a parody of the classic Coke glass, though as we've seen these sorts of glasses are way more trouble than they're worth in real life.
Let's close with a look at a simply awful 60s TV commercial for Tab. Later Tab would be marketed at the "beautiful people", but here we see Tab exhorting women to more desirable object to their husbands (all narrated by a creepy guy who clearly "likes to watch"). Forget Women's Lib, diet cola drinkers, be "a mindsticker".