“Delicious! Refreshing! Exhilarating! Invigorating!” When John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886, not even that adrenalized ad slogan could persuade customers to try it over all the other carbonated wonder tonics on the market.
According to Wired, his bookkeeper started giving away tickets for free tastes of Coke, but Pemberton chided him for “extravagance.”
Then along came tycoon Asa Griggs Candler, who bought the company in 1888, picked up on the bookkeeper’s idea, and mailed out thousands of the ticket shown above. The coupon as we know it was born.
Coca-Cola’s generosity was generously rewarded: In its first year, the company sold, on average, nine glasses a day.
By 1913, Coca-Cola had redeemed 8.5 million “free drink” coupons. Today it’s one of the world’s most recognized brands, with a market cap over $1 billion.
Photo by Coca-Cola.