Борис Бурда
Author: Boris Burda
Journalist, writer, bard. Winner of the "Diamond Owl" intellectual game "What? Where? When?"
Liberal Arts
7 minutes for reading

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?
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Coca-Cola’s main competitor (Pepsi Cola, of course) has released a number of witty advertisements with one common idea: the Coca-Cola drinker is unsuccessful and dull, but as soon as he drinks Pepsi Cola, miracles begin…

How to neutralize this ad?

The answer is a little later.




It all began after the end of the American Civil War: the South lost it, and Confederate Army officer John Pemberton, in order not to starve to death, went to work as pharmacists. His medicines for liver diseases and coughs gained some popularity, but he had to grow somewhere…

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?
John Pemberton

So he invented a sweet syrup for fatigue, stress, toothache and, what is important, problems with potency – which is not so to say, it usually works. In addition, it contained cocaine, and the morphine addict Pemberton tried to cure himself with it by substituting one drug for another.

His accountant Frank Robinson, based on the composition of the new medicine, which, in addition to cocaine, included cola nuts revered by blacks, immediately came up with a name for it and wrote it in beautiful letters – he was also a calligrapher. Everyone has seen this inscription countless times.

Pemberton began selling his syrup at Jacobs Pharmacy, the largest in his native Atlanta. On the first day, March 29, 1886, I managed to sell two whole cups at 5 cents apiece – you won’t get rich! But after a few days, Pemberton was suddenly terribly lucky!




The luck was that either an absent-minded salesman added soda to the syrup instead of ordinary water, or a client suffering from a morning hangover asked to dilute his portion of soda in order to also fight heartburn. Many people liked the syrup in this form.

In the first year it was sold for $ 50, and on advertising they spent $ 80, in the second year things went a little better – but then Pemberton died! And everything would be lost if it were not for the Irish emigrant Asa Griggs Candler – a man with a frenzied pressure, a wonderful determination and a fantastic instinct.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?
Asa Candler

Having made money with great difficulty in his new homeland, 2300 dollars, a lot of money at that time, he laid it out to Pemberton’s widow for a patent on her fizzy. And immediately he began to promote the former drug throughout America as the best remedy for thirst, and with great success.

The drawing by Frank Robinson was registered as an official trademark, and in 1893 the company paid its first dividends to investors – $ 20 per share. More than a hundred years had passed, and Coca-Cola did not know a single year without the payment of dividends.




The first troubles hit the company at the beginning of the twentieth century – the New York Times burst into articles about blacks who first got drunk on fizzy, and then stunned with cocaine, raped white women. It was just horror in those days, they could be lynched.

But the claims of the tax department, as you understood, were a hundred times worse. The tax authorities said that as he drink contained cocaine, a licensed and patented drug at that time, it was necessary to pay a tax on patent medicine. And an evil tax man was worse than a company of racists.

Under oath, Asa Candler had to admit that there was cocaine in the drink. But the government expert Dr. George Payne studied the drink and honestly admitted that it had very little cocaine, 1/400 of a grain per ounce, and it could not have any therapeutic effect on anyone.

The tax authorities were so amazed at the conclusions of their own expert that they even returned $ 29,500 of the tax, which was already paid, to Candler. And they also said that the US tax department was a nightmare and it could not be worse… They could have strangled a promising business in the cradle, but they did not.

However, even if we roughly estimate how much the half-hearted Coca-Cola has already paid taxes and how much it will pay more, one might even think that they were right about something, no matter how strange it is to us… But they knew that if you eat grain for sowing, then you will die of hunger anyway.




However, not everyone is as happy with Coca-Cola as the company would like. At a minimum, people want to know what the company puts in Coca-Cola, if there is no more coca, or, most likely, cola. In Israel, without it, Coca-Cola would not be allowed to sell – the rabbis needed to understand whether it was kosher or not.

The matter was settled by a cunning maneuver: a huge list of ingredients was handed to the rabbis, among which were all the ingredients of Coca-Cola and a lot of other food that was not related to the case. Since the rabbis have recognized the entire list as kosher, any part of it is also considered kosher…

We did not have time to rest – the Turk Muammer Karabulut filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola, stating that the Turks had the right to know what they were given to drink. In the course of negotiations with the firm’s lawyers, he said that  he had known the recipe, and it included carmine from cochineal worms. Representatives of Coca-Cola immediately replied that he had confused everything – well, that’s clear, Jews couldn’t eat worms…

It is more difficult with those who are not hostile to drink, but to the United States and globalism – Coca-Cola is, after all, a symbol of both. The Iranians released their drink Zam Zam Cola and recaptured a part of the Muslim market – the name Zam Zam is a sacred spring near Mecca, and it is attractive to many.

And Bolivia decided to act outside the market – declared coca the cultural heritage of Bolivia, even decided to replace the olive branch with coca leaves on its flag and on this basis demanded that those who used the word “coca”  should pay for it to Bolivia. They are still waiting…

Peruvians, no less involved in coca, decided that they would not live to see it when Atlanta would start paying, and began to produce their own drink, Inca Kola. Actually, in the USSR they did the same, but unofficially – the drink “Baikal” produced in our country was popularly nicknamed “Elki-Cola”.




Overdose seems to be harmful, and here is a short list of Coca-Cola overdose companions – decide for yourself whether it is worth the risk…

1. Obesity, and an increased risk of diabetes with it, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and unnecessary problems with slimmer peers. Over the past 30 years, the number of obese boys in the United States has doubled and girls have tripled. The connection between excess weight and the consumption of sweet soda has been proven.

2. Osteoporosis is a disease that makes bones brittle and breakable. Coca-Cola displaces milk from the diet, and it is the main carrier of calcium, which strengthens bones. In the 70s, children drank twice as much milk as Coca-Cola; now it is the other way around. It is especially dangerous for girls.

3. Kidney stones – phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola increases the likelihood of their formation. In those patients with kidney stones, who instead of a glass of Coca-Cola a day began to drink it half as much, new stones began to form three times less often.

4. Allergy to dyes, and with it a whole bunch of different delights from hives and allergic rhinitis to the very real bronchial asthma.

5. Tooth decay – here you have both sugar and acid… You don’t even have to check.




But the most dangerous of all are not enemies, but those close to them. The history of the most similar to Coca-Cola drink is similar to its history like two drops of water. Pharmacist Caleb Bradham from North Carolina, like all American pharmacists, sold not only potions with pills, but also ice cream with soda. And in 1896 he invented Brad’s Drink – water and syrup for indigestion.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?
Caleb Bradham

Why he changed its name to Pepsi Cola is not entirely clear – whether because of the content of pepsin in it, or because he was a great lover of anagrams and worked in a pharmacy opposite the Episcopal Church (rearrange the letters in the word episcopal – and Pepsi Cola will come out).

Slowly but steadily, Pepsi Cola fought against an eminent rival and gradually became its main rival. Coca-Cola tried to get its dangerous enemy banned for the word “cola” in its name – they said, it was plagiarism, we were the first to come up with it!

But nothing came of it, and the presidents of both companies in 1938 ended the last lawsuit over it by signing statements in which both recognized the competing brand and promised not to seek its ban. They didn’t promise not to do nasty things to each other…


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Advertising rivalry between two very similar products (by the way, how many of you will try the drink and say for sure whether it is Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola?) did not think to subside after the signed agreement. If it is difficult to distinguish between products, advertising decides everything.

The slogan “The new generation chooses Pepsi” was a successful advertising stunt for Pepsi Cola. It did not only attract a lot of young people, but also made it possible to position young people, athletic and committed to a healthy lifestyle as the “Pepsi Generation”.

In the 60s, Pepsi Cola appears in the USSR: Nixon gave it to Khrushchev, then Pepsi President Donald Kendall took over the distribution of Stolichnaya in the United States and he erected the Pepsi Cola plant in Novorossiysk for it. It was amazing to buy Pepsi in a Soviet store!

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?
Khrushchev tries Pepsi Cola

But Coca-Cola has mastered another totalitarian giant – China. At first, the drink did not go: the hieroglyphs conveying the name meant: “Bite the wax tadpole” … Then they came up with another consonance “kekou kele” – these hieroglyphs meant “caresses the mouth, caresses the soul”, and a quarter of the world’s population began to use Coca-Cola in the same way, like everything else that is softer than stone.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?
Coca-Cola in China




The battles in the soda battle were one worse than the other. A person could have suffered in this war almost by accident. Someone saw the American Rick Bronson with a can of Pepsi-Cola in his hands and immediately reported about it to the Coca-Cola Company. He was fired in the blink of an eye.

Since the 1928 Olympics in Antwerp, Coca-Cola has been actively sponsoring sports events, and certainly the Olympics. At the 2000 Olympics in Atlanta, the capital of Coca-Cola, spectators were not allowed into the stadiums with bombs, knives, pistols and Pepsi Cola.

In 1980, only Pepsi was sold in the USSR, and the sponsor of the Olympics, as always, was Coca-Cola. To get out of the situation, they brought a lot of Coca-Cola to the Olympic venues and sold only it, and everywhere in Moscow there was only Pepsi Cola, and not a drop of Coca-Cola.

Even the most beautiful women of our planet have become involved in this senseless and merciless battle of the giants. As soon as Miss Universe Sushmita Sen started advertising Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola immediately hired her competitor Aishwarya Rai – Miss World.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?
Sushmita Sen
NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?
Aishwaria Rai

A bipartisan system in the fight against drinks has proved to be the most suitable for the United States, where a bipartisan system has reigned for many years. At the conventions of the Democratic Party in the United States, they drink only Coca-Cola, the Republican Party – only Pepsi. So Coca-Cola is the leader now!




Pepsi-Cola is younger than Coca-Cola, and there is nothing surprising in the fact that it is more aggressive – it needs to win back its place. It puts out some pretty tough commercials with one theme: “Coca-Cola goes and falls behind, Pepsi Cola comes and wins”.

According to the plot of one such video, in 3002 an archaeologist and his students examine antiquities, found during excavations – a guitar, a baseball bat and a Coca-Cola bottle clogged with mud. They were laser cleaned and placed on the table. “What it is?” one of the students asks. “I have no idea,” the professor replies. Well, at least they hinted rather subtly…

And this commercial was familiar to us, the Soviet people. In it, one chimpanzee drinks Coca-Cola, and the inspiration condescends to it – it hammers a nail with a hammer. Another chimpanzee opens Pepsi Cola and then gets into a luxurious car and drives off with gorgeous girls.

The patience of Coca-Cola Company ran out after the release of such a video in Japan: the popular rap musician MC Hammer, who was touring in Japan at that time, starts humming something sad after drinking Coca-Cola, and only after drinking Pepsi Cola, starts dancing to cheerful rap music. It was too much, rap is sacred. But how do you stop it?

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to stop displaying hostile ads?
MC Hammer




How did Pepsi Cola mock Coca-Cola? Showed drinking Coca-Cola in a bad light, and then drinking Pepsi Cola on horseback and in chocolate.

But Coca-Cola is a registered trademark! So what right does Pepsi Cola have to use it without permission? Coca-Cola has banned it – and that’s it!




Indeed, scolding someone’s product protected by a registered trademark is a delicate matter, you can answer in court! They will need proof, caught in inaccuracies and overexposure, it is quite possible that they will demand a myriad of fine – who cares?

Pretty soon after the aforementioned precedent, an advertisement for washing powder (I think, Ariel) appeared on the screens of the CIS. It highlighted the advantages of the advertised powder over the powder in a gray box with no graphics with a simple caption: Ordinary Powder.

Advertising was shown often and sunk into the souls of many housewives. They began to ask in stores this very Ordinary Powder- how is it not so, because it was filming in the advertisement, it should be cheap, we would have bought it with pleasure! How is it not so? We saw it in the commercial!

It ended in a completely predictable way – there were companies that began to produce washing powder under the original name Ordinary Powder, and they willingly bought it – of course, they saw it on TV! Interestingly, the manufacturer did not spend a penny on its advertising!

And in fact, it is correct. Scolding someone is always ugly, almost always unreasonable and very wrong. Be able to praise your own – if, of course, there is something for it. Moreover, there is an absolutely impeccable formal reason to prohibit you from denigrating a competitor in the media.




For explosives to work, they often need to be compressed. Confederate officer John Pemberton lived well on state grub and did only harm. And when the state salary disappeared, he began to work and came up with something that is now known to everyone.

Coca-Cola did not want to reveal its recipe to anyone, the Israeli rabbi wanted to know what the drink was made of, and no one gave in. Why didn’t they agree? Why was that? They thought about how to come to an agreement – and everything worked out for them, and each achieved its goal. Because they thought…

Billion-dollar China began to drink Coca-Cola when advertisers slightly changed the Chinese version of the sound of its name. Literalist precision always limits and impedes flexibility. We must give it up in time.

It seems that Coca-Cola is an ordinary sweet water, and how many troubles lie in wait for those who abuse it – see above. It was necessary to listen to the ancient Greek sage Solon, who correctly said, “Nothing too much!”

Scolding is easier than praising, and many people follow this path. Maybe sometimes you just need to forbid scolding? The danger of overdoing it and lying is too great. In brainstorming sessions, for example, it is one of the main principles – do not criticize, but suggest the best.

All illustrations are from open sources

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