Some manufacturers have ideas that they think will go over well and then they just never really take off like they were expected to. Sometimes it’s because it was a poor design and other times, it just doesn’t catch on.
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OK Soda is one of those. This soda certainly had an interesting concept behind it. But for whatever reason, it was one that didn’t take. While you might be able to buy some vintage cans, you’re not going to find this soda on the shelves.
Let’s take a look and learn more about it!
OK Soda History
OK Soda was introduced by Coca-Cola. It definitely had a unique idea wand was meant to appeal to Generation X. Rather than the classic Coca Cola design, they took a much different approach. This was designed using a neo-noir approach. The cans basically posed a headshot of an individual and then a headline.
But there was a twist. They actually chose to use negative publicity headlines on the cans. However, the reason behind the negative headlines was to then provide encouragement. Hence the name OK soda. Their tagline for the soda was that “things are going to be OK.”
It was definitely unique.
Unfortunately, the soda actually never even made it out of the testing phase. It spent only about two years on the market and was discontinued before it really took off. The company felt as though it wasn’t going to take off based on their test markets ultimately.
OK Soda was a soft drink. It came out in 1993. Coca Cola hired back one of their previous employees, Sergio Zyman. He came in as the chief of marketing for the company. He was in charge of all marketing, including all sodas and brands. This came after he was heavily responsible for New Coke, which is another failed story from Coke’s brands.
Zyman did meet some success. He rebranded Classic Coca Cola as well as Diet Coke and those went over really well. He started out doing great. It was when they let him loose from supervision that his campaigns took an interesting turn. That’s when his idea for OK Soda was born.
Actually, he was set loose with the intention of being able to create new products and new designs that had something different and offbeat about them. Even a bit of aggressive marketing was allowed.
So they did some research and found that on an international level there were two words that were commonly known all over the world. One of those words was Coke. The other word was OK. Do you see where we’re going here? It only made sense to use the work OK for the next campaign, right? After all, Coke was already in use.
But perhaps where Zyman went wrong was when he targeted groups that statistically didn’t like advertising to begin with. He had high hopes for OK Soda and was sure it would capture the attention of those people, again specifically Generation X.
Of course, while Zyman came up with the design, there were certainly other parts of the team that stood behind it. It was shared in an interview with Time Magazine that this soda was the opposite of making substantial claims that didn’t deliver.
Hence, the company decided to move forward with testing. They tested in at least 20 major cities. Most of those were in the United States but they did also test in a small part of Canada. The tests went out from coast to coast, capturing places from Texas to Tennessee to Minnesota and plenty of other locations in between. It was a broad range of markets.
While the initial hope was that OK Soda would capture 4% of the entire beverage market, it never even passed 3%. While it was available on the shelves for about two years, it actually was canceled only about 7 months after initial distribution. They never even released it beyond the test markets.
Unique Marketing Style of OK Soda
What really stood out to people the most about this soda was the marketing. You don’t hear about the flavors or what it tastes like. We know it was a soda and some version of Coca Cola but that’s about it. Instead, you hear about the marketing and the can designs.
We can find details from old cans where the cans were labeled as “a unique fruity soda”. That’s about as much as we can gather from the taste market.
Since the marketing and design of the can was such a big part of this drink, we think it’s important to turn some attention in that direction.
In the early 70s, there were advertisements that used a bit of a pop psychology theme. The slogan at that time was “I’m ok, you’re ok.”. It was just a general marketing approach in the 70s but it worked at that time. When they created this spinoff, it was almost in an effort to make fun of that whole era.
But with OK soda they were trying to reach a different generation. Generation X had proven to be hard to impress. When it came to advertising, the normal things simply didn’t work and perhaps even got a lot of negativity from said generation. At that time, Generation X was a young generation so Coca Cola was just looking for a way to leave an impression with them.
In fact, they took this one step further and basically marketed OK Soda solely around the marketing plan. They demeaned their own soda flavor with the intent to focus on their designs. Perhaps that is one of the reasons it was unsuccessful.
The designs on the cans were created by cartoon artists. They took on a comic-style design. If you ever get a chance to see the cans, you might even find portrayals of Charles Manson on some of the cans. This was just one of the likenesses that the designers used in their illustrations.
Another unique thing about the design was this one had no bright colors. If you know Coca Cola, you know that bright red is their signature color and it’s found on every product. But with OK soda, they stuck to mostly black and gray with just a hint of red around the “OK” title and a hint of yellow on the flavor.
To top it all off, they imprinted every can with a 1-800 hotline that was just more poking fun at people.
Some cans included things like urban legends, some included coincidences, and more. They went all in on their unusual approach.
Ok Soda Flavors
We mentioned earlier that finding the flavor for OK Soda was challenging. The focus really wasn’t on the flavor. The cans did sport a description of a fruity soda. However, Coca-Cola was even said to talk down about the flavor in advertising campaigns for the soda.
When you find descriptions of flavor, this drink is described as being mostly citric, almost like Sprite. However, it was also said to be a tad bit spicy at the same time. It basically tastes like a mixture of random drinks all thrown together from what we can gather.
It was certainly unique in every single aspect.
OK Soda Logo
OK Soda Ingredients
- Carbonated water
- High fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose
- Citric acid
- Caramel color
- Potassium benzoate (to protect taste)
- phosphoric acid
- Natural flavors
- Potassium citrate
- Dipotassium phosphate
- Glycerol ester of wood rosin
- Brominated vegetable oil
- Red 40
OK Soda Nutrition
|Serving Size:||1 Can||% Daily Value *|
|Amount Per Serving|
- Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Pictures of OK Soda
Buying OK Soda
You can no longer buy OK Soda. These particular drinks were only in stores from 1993 to 1995. They never were produced past their testing phase because they never really impressed the market. The company decided the tests were not successful and discontinued the drink 7 months after testing began.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to find some vintage cans or even vintage merchandise from their prize cans out there. We would guess these would turn a pretty penny because of the limited availability and the short distribution phase of the drink.
OK Soda Commericals
Krysta Wood is a freelance writer that loves to bring a story to life. She is a candy fanatic that likes to try different types of candy and learn more about their histories.
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