Company special: Coca-Cola celebrates iconic bottle's centenary year

Updated: 2015-03-04 07:55

By Liu Xiangrui(China Daily)

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As well as its classic taste and formula, Coca-Cola's distinctive packaging has undoubtedly played an important role in its success as a top-selling international soft drink.

The iconic Coca-Cola bottle was described by industrial designer Raymond Loewy as the "perfect liquid wrapper" and has become an influential symbol of design, art and culture.

Since the bottle was designed in 1915, more than 300 billion have been sold, according to the company's sales records.

To mark the centennial anniversary, the Coca-Cola Company is celebrating with a year-long campaign that includes a series of art exhibits featuring works from some of the world's leading contemporary artists including Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Peter Blake.

More than 100 original bottle inspired artworks and photographs will be shown at an exhibition called Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100.

The four-part exhibition honors the Coca-Cola bottle and its position in the worlds of art, design and commerce during the past 100 years.

Warhol's iconic black and white painting that features a Coca-Cola bottle will be part of the exhibition. The painting was sold for $35.4 million at a contemporary art auction at Sotheby's in New York in 2011.

Warhol created art from daily objects and also featured the bottles in his modern paintings. His green Coca-Cola bottles series from 1962 is part of a collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The exhibit, which is presented by the High Museum of Art in the United States in collaboration with the Coca-Cola Company, opened to the public on Feb 28 and will run until Oct 4. It will also include original bottle prototypes and sketches.

A traveling art exhibition, called The Coca-Cola Bottle Art Tour: Inspiring Pop Culture for 100 Years, will visit more than 15 countries around the world in 2015.

The exhibition promises to take audiences on a multisensory journey featuring a variety of themed artworks, historical artifacts and interactive experiences that show case the role of the Coca-Cola bottle in art and popular culture.

Artists including Howard Finster, Tom Wesselmann, Ulrich Walter and Carlos Vergara have featured Coca-Cola's iconic bottle in their work.

Steve Penley, an American artist who was designated as the official artist for the G8 summit in 2004, completed a series of oil paintings themed around the fizzy drink.

The Coca-Cola Company, in partnership with French publishing house Assouline, is releasing a limited-edition book highlighting the history of the Coca-Cola bottle, titled Kiss the Past Hello.

The company invited contemporary artists and designers from around the world to reinterpret the bottle in their own signature styles for works to include in the book, which is due to be released this month.

The Coca-Cola bottle is closely linked to cultural experiences shared across generations for the past 100 years.

This year's celebrations also include digital campaigns featuring iconic celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Ray Charles who were 'kissed by' the Coca-Cola bottle.

In one image, the King of Rock n' Roll Elvis Presley is shown enjoying a Coca-Cola between takes at RCA Victor's Studio 1 in New York City.

During the 1956 recording session Elvis and his band made music history recording the seminal tracks, Hound Dog and Don't be Cruel.

The Coca-Cola bottle has been in a multitude of popular movies, including recent films The Help, Saving Mr Banks and Dreamgirls, as well as television programs such as Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men.

The Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana, created the original bottle in 1915 after the brand set a design brief to create a bottle that could be identified in the dark or when broken on the ground.

The packaging has become one of the most recognized in the world. A 1949 study showed that less than 1 percent of Americans were unable to identify the Coca-Cola bottle by its shape alone.

"Since its creation, 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, the company's chief marketing officer.

The bottle's design has evolved through history in different regions. Different editions of the bottles have even become collectors items around the world.

In recent years, the Coca-Cola Company introduced an aluminum version of the bottle.

Leading design firms from five continents helped the company launch a marketing campaign that featured a series of designs for the aluminum bottle, called Magnificent 5.

In 2010 and 2011, world famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld designed four limited-edition aluminum Coca-Cola Light bottles.

The bottles, which featured Lagerfeld's distinctive silhouette with his suit, ponytail and signature, became popular fashion items.

Whether it be fashionable, collectable or practical, the iconic bottle continues to play a pivotal role in marketing Coca-Cola around the world.

(China Daily 03/04/2015 page22)