Robert Woodruff, former chair of The Coca-Cola Company set out a vision in 1923 that Coca-Cola should always be ‘within an arm’s reach of desire’.
In the following decades, and even throughout the Second World War, Coke became ubiquitous across most of this little planet of ours. However, there were still places the brand couldn’t and didn’t reach.
And the walls came tumbling down
On November 9 1989, a new territory was added to the Coke world, as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Among the thousands of pictures taken in the following hours and days, there is one that shows two men heaving cartons of Coca-Cola bottles over the wall.
One of the men pictured was Paul-Gerhard Ritter. He was managing director of the Coca-Cola bottler in Lichterfelde.
It was a particularly poignant moment for Ritter. He had originally come from the East. He attended a school in the GDR until he was eight, moving with his family to West Berlin in 1957, four years before construction of the wall began.
Whether he just wanted to celebrate the momentous occasion, to take advantage of a wonderful PR opportunity or to combine the two is not known. But, he clearly realised that the Cold War was coming to an end and a new era was starting.
As soon as he heard that the wall was coming down, he ordered three trucks to be filled with Coca-Cola and driven to Kudamm where the East Berliners were now crossing the border.
Within two hours of their arrival, the three trucks were empty and many new arrivals duly refreshed.
In the first week after the fall of the Wall, two million people drank a toast to freedom with a Coke. By March 1990 Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke GmbH was set up as a separate company in East Germany.
SOURCE: Giles Lury
Author of How Coca-Cola Took Over The World