11 Oct: Branson’s Cola Gamble

Virgin Cola, Sir Richard Branson’s ultimately flawed contender in the Cola Wars, was certainly taken seriously by the competition. On 11th October 1994, a pokerfaced Coca-Cola spokesperson told The Independent: “Consumers consistently demonstrate, when given a free choice, that they prefer our product.

”Despite an extensive publicity campaign – including a stunt in Times Square, a bottle shaped like Pamela Anderson, and product placement on ‘Friends’ – the beverage never took off internationally, but did have success in the UK and Bangladesh, before being discontinued in 2009.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider Coke’s ‘gangster’ tactics; sympathise with Branson’s children and their classmates; and question why the maverick billionaire just wasn’t able to disrupt the cola market as he’d hoped…

Further Reading:

• ‘How Richard Branson Took On Coca-Cola’ (Intrigue Academy, 2020): 

• ‘What Richard Branson learned when Coke put Virgin Cola out of business’ (CNBC, 2017): https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/07/what-richard-branson-learned-when-coke-put-virgin-cola-out-of-business.html

• ‘Sir Richard Branson’s setbacks: from Virgin Cola to Virgin Brides’ (The Guardian, 2014): https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/06/sir-richard-branson-failures-vigin-cola-brides