'I'd like to buy the world a Coke' Ad Circa 1971
Roberto Goizueta was an unlikely choice as CEO for Coke. However, during his tenure, he stabilized a company that was declining in growth and profit and struggling to keep it’s market share from Pepsi Cola, the new kid on the block. At the time, the company was considered conservative in its spending, forecasting and growth potential.
Goizueta was born in Havana, Cuba, to the Heiress of a sugar fortune and an architect. He graduated from Yale in Chemical Engineering. Joining Coke’s technical subsidiary in Havana in 1954 went against the popular belief that he would return to his family’s sugar plantations. Goizueta’s key strengths were drive and integrity. Additionally, due to his years in the technical division, he was one of two people in the company who knew Coke’s secret formula. During his time as CEO, he would take company profits from $3 billion to over $150 billion.
Once in his position as CEO, Goizueta knew that he would need a strong team to put his ideas into action. His only request on starting the role of CEO was the ability to select his own team. Goizueta had a singular objective: to increase investor wealth. After analyzing corporate holdings, he focused the business directly on the soft drink market, removing company interests in other businesses (such as the shrimp business). He also understood the concerns consumers had with the sugar content in the drink and released Diet Coke within 12 months of being in the role of CEO. Other ventures (such as New Coke) were not as successful. However, ‘Coke Classic’ and ‘Cherry Coke’ were profitable. Coke Classic, in particular, drew on consumer nostalgia as a key source of its success. Other ideas such as bringing the bottling in-house was profitable, putting money into his investors’ hands year after year.
What we can learn from Roberto Guizueta:
1. Build a strong team around you
3. Nostalgia sells