As you can tell by yesterday’s blog, one of the places we visited on vacation was the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. It is the mother ship, and over a million people per year pay money and spend a few hours to become part of a 100,000 square foot commercial. For many reasons, I loved it.
The World of Coca-Cola is a well-orchestrated branding machine. From the moment you are within sight lines of the museum, you can see a giant Coke bottle in a glass tower above the entrance way. The information desk is shielded from the sun by a giant “bottle cap.” While waiting in line, that distinctive sound of a bottle being opened and liquid being poured is piped in the background. The seats in the theatre are arranged in the trademarked “red ribbon swirl” formation instead of in straight lines. Even the elevator has the Coke ribbon in raised metal to line the interior.
Instead letting guests become bored while waiting, attendants counted the number of hits people in line made to keep an inflated football in the air, always trying to beat the day’s best. The Coke Bear “ate” Cubs hats and entertained those in line as well as the guest who was being photographed. Visitors could make their own Coke ads with special design computers, read stories others had written about their experiences with Coke or write their own memories. And then there was the free tasting of over 100 Coke products from around the world. By the time you left, through the store (of course), you had been subliminally indoctrinated by Coke for the last two hours and were willing to wait in a significant line so that you could take some of the magic home with you.
The Coke people have got it mastered in a tasteful (but certainly not subtle) way. Anyone who has anything to do with hosting visitors or telling their institution’s history would be well served to visit Atlanta. It’s the real thing.
Information Desk on grounds My Coke Story display and kiosks