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What Jeb Bush Could Have Learned from New Coke!

In 1985 the world was about to change, after almost 100 years with no change in formula, Coke-A-Cola was about to take on a new taste and pander to a new customer segment. After all, the summer of 1985 saw the cola category loosing market share in the soft drink market and worse yet, coke-a-cola was loosing share to chief rival Pepsi co. in the cola market.  In an attempt to regain share and cause a change in the trajectory of Coke in the soft drink and cola markets, the executives at Coke decided it was time to move away from the traditional brand, that had been in existence for 99 years.  Thus in April of 1985 NEW COKE was launched and began to show up on supermarket shelves around the country.  What happened next was a true lesson in the power of branding.  

Instead of being met with unbridled enthusiasm, NEW COKE was met with disdain and a yearning to have the "old" version back.  There were actual grass roots campaigns developed to call for the return of the "Original" coke. It did not take the executives at the company long to respond, as the original brand was back on supermarket shelves in 79 days.  

The learning here was that once customers tasted the New brand Coke, they realized the emotions and memories that they had developed to the original brand were not there anymore. Their experience with the new version was simply non-remarkable.  It wasn't JUST about the taste, but about what that taste stood for and delivered on.  The traditional "coke brand" brought a sense of comfort and nostalgia, not to mention the better taste.

Fast forward to 2015-16 and the race for the GOP nomination for president. Jeb Bush and his team pulled a "New Coke" move by trying to distance themselves from the traditional "Bush brand" by developing a campaign focused on a new type of Bush.  This Bush had executive experience going into the race.  He had a proven track record as Governor of Florida and more than anything else, he was a "NEW" brand of Bush, who was intellectual, steadfast and knew how to speak the English language.  The Bush team even left his last name off his campaign posters, which just read; JEB! Can do it!  His team was unlike the executives at Coke though, as once they realized that this new brand was not resonating, going back to the original was the only chance to regain momentum and put the monkey TRUMP back in his cage.  They waited too long to strut out Mama, or the Mummy, Bush.  Getting W out there earlier would have given Jeb a lift he never thought he would would have gotten with the "original" brand, and finally the reverence for H.W. would have been better to reflect on than Marco Rubio's make-up habits.  If Jeb had hired Sergio Zyman to be his campaign manager, "Old Coke" would have ruled the 2016 GOP race.


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