Coca-Cola’s BHAG: $200 Billion by 2020

Coca-Cola is planning to increase revenue to $200 billion in 2020 from $95 billion in 2008.

Joseph V. Tripodi, executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial officer at Coca-Cola, concedes that doubling revenue is “a big, hairy, audacious goal,” a.k.a. BHAG. Yet, he believes global megatrends like urbanization and the rise of the middle class are in the company’s favor. “Every 30 days there’s the equivalent of a new Atlanta added to the world,” he said.

Even so, “demographics are not destiny,” Mr. Tripodi added. “You have to capture it.”

Ambition is as American as apple pie, or Coca-Cola. But there’s something offensive about this revelation.

There’s a whole lot of sugared water in the world today, but if Coke has its way there will be twice as much in a few short years. Which means twice as much resources used and sugar ingested.

Are you working to help this company, and others like it, spread their wares to every corner of Planet Earth? There’s no judgement here — I have worked for Coca-Cola, RJ Reynolds, McDonalds, Coors and many other such concerns over the years — I’m just consistently curious about the lies we tell ourselves in order to function in this world.

A friend and I recently discussed the magic trick where leaders of famous creative companies dupe hipsters into working hard and late into the night, day after day, night after night, to sell more pop, more cars, more deodorant, and so on. Fortunes are being made on the backs of these young workers, but what else, beyond money, is being made?

Some might argue that Coke has one job to do, and that’s it. I’m suggesting that the game has changed, and that truly great corporations will find a way to do their core job and take on other responsibilities, as well. To be fair to Coke, they are helping to fight AIDS in Tanzania in a very tangible way. My point is there’s room for much more of this multi-tasking.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.