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How To Screw Your Rival – When Coke Failed On Purpose

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Who doesn’t love a little mudslinging between rivals? When businesses outdo and undercut one another in ways we haven’t seen since Game of Thrones, all we can do is sit back and enjoy. One such story that stands out is when Coke failed on purpose in its pursuit to screw Pepsi.

As any American is well aware, the rivalry between Coca-Cola and Pepsi is legendary. Going back to “The Pepsi Challenge” of 1975, the two soft drink companies have been sniping and swiping at one another in the pursuit of winning. 

There is one behind-the-scenes story that took the cola wars to a diabolical level. That was when Coke failed on purpose only to bring Pepsi down. 

Sit down, folks. This one’s a doozy. 

The Clear Craze 

Our story of cutthroat corporate screwdom begins in the late 80’s with the resurgence of the “clear craze.” This marketing fad has its roots in the 1939 New York World’s Fair with the 193 Pontiac Deluxe Six. 

I mean, just look at this ghostly puppy:

Who doesn’t wanna make that kitty purr? 

The transparent product trend peaked in the early 1970s before falling out of popularity only to pick up steam again in the 1980s. It wasn’t until Ivory’s “99 and 44/100% Pure” campaign for bath soap that marketers began to latch onto the concept of clear products once again. 

The idea is that transparency inspires faith and trust in the produce. “See? We have nothing to hide,” is the sentiment you feel when you can see the innerworkings of a product. Or so goes the theory. 

This trend bled into the beverage industry with products like light beer and Zima. Naturally, Pepsi Co. wanted a piece of the action. And so they introduced Crystal Pepsi.

You’ve Never Seen A Taste Like This

Crystal Pepsi, the brainchild of former Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hutt) CEO David Novak, was a soda unlike any other. 

the best idea I may have ever had in my career.

MMMMM sure, Jan. 

In 1992, Novak became the COO of Pepsi Co. after a successful series of marketing projects. He spotted words like “pure” and “clear” across all sorts of products from soap to gasoline and clearly thought soda falls somewhere on that spectrum. 

Inspired by the currently raging clear craze, Novak pitched Crystal Pepsi, a colorless cola that appears to be more refreshing and “good” for you (despite being loaded with high fructose corn syrup). 

After positive responses in test markets in Denver, Sacramento, Dallas, Providence, and Grand Rapids, Pepsi decided to expand the fresh, new beverage nationwide. Pepsi’s future was crystal clear

But Coke wasn’t about to let this happen without some kind of response…

A Diabolical Scheme

Coca-Cola Co.’s chief marketing officer, Sergio Zyman (aka “Aya-Cola” for his particularly aggressive management style), devised an ingenious plan to totally ruin Crystal Pepsi. For no other reason than to f**k with ‘em. 

Zyman had to be strategic in his attack. After 1985’s disastrous New Coke launch, Coca-Cola couldn’t afford to risk its flagship cola less than ten years after the blunder. That’s when Zyman thought of Tab (styled “TaB”). 

Tab, with its cute pink cans, was introduced in 1963 as an alternative for calorie-conscious consumers who just had to have a soda. The brand specifically targeted women concerned about their weight. 

be a shape he won’t forget … Tab can help you stay in his mind.” 

Yikes, man. 

Tab was not a super successful brand under the Coca-Cola umbrella. It had fallen from 4% of Coke’s market share to just 1%. Zyman accurately believed that Tab’s reputation as a “health” soda would lend credibility to his diabolical scheme. 

Zyman was going to create a product that would intentionally fail and bring Pepsi down with it. Coke failed on purpose.

It was a suicidal mission from day one.

The “Born To Die” Strategy

If there were ever a kamikaze soda, Tab Clear was it. Zyman wanted to deliberately confuse consumers once Tab Clear hit the shelves. Tab Clear was a diet diet soda by its very nature. It contained no sugar, no calories, but was loaded with caffeine. 

The theory was that simply sitting on the shelf beside each other would confuse consumers into believing that Crystal Pepsi was something it wasn’t. 

[Pepsi Co.] were going to basically say it was a mainstream drink. This is like a cola, but it doesn’t have any color. It has all this taste.

“And we said, ‘No, Crystal Pepsi is actually a diet drink.’ Even though it wasn’t. 

“Because Tab had the attributes of diet, which was its demise. That was its problem. It was perceived to be a medicinal drink.”

By the end of 1992, Tab Clear was making its debut. 

Millions And Millions To Fail

Pepsi Co. spent nearly $40 million on marketing for Crystal Pepsi. Including a coveted SuperBowl ad you can watch in the cringy-as-hell video above. 

Not even SNL could parody that ad. It’s unparodyable. Nobody said Pepsi did nothing wrong here. 

To begin their calculating takedown, Coke launched Tab Clear in 10 cities and spent minimally on marketing and advertisements. They made just enough noise to give Crystal Pepsi an identity crisis. 

By the end of 1993, Crystal Pepsi grabbed just 0.5 of the market. Zyman’s plan had succeeded. 

Within three to five months, Tab Clear was dead. 

“And so was Crystal Pepsi.” 

Lessons Learned

Crystal Pepsi had spent millions in development, more in marketing, and totally flopped. Tab Clear had about two months of development and significantly less on marketing and succeeded in its mission. Coke failed on purpose and it worked.

On top of that, despite marketers’ best efforts, the clear craze never caught on. Different products from computers to GameBoys featured clear cases, but those faded out in the early 2000s. People just weren’t that into it. 

Even though Crystal Pepsi was an embarrassment for Pepsi Co., the infamous clear soda still makes promotional comebacks. Just for giggles. 

It just goes to show that no matter how certain you are in your concept and how much money you throw at it, there’s someone waiting in the wings to totally screw you over.

Chris Blondell is a Philadelphia-based writer and social media strategist with a current focus on tech industry news. He has written about startups and entrepreneurs based in Denver, Seattle, Chicago, New Haven, and more. He has also written content for a true-crime blog, Sword and Scale, and developed social media content for a local spice shop. An occasional comedian, Chris Blondell also spends his time writing humorous content and performing stand-up for local audiences.

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The 8 Sexiest SaaS Companies of 2022 (So Far…)

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Did someone say, Sexy as a Service? No? Too bad. Because here at Owners’ Magazine, we think SaaS are some of the sexiest services out there right now. The deeper society dives into the online world, the hotter SaaS gets. You can think of SaaS as a new kind of infrastructure, like roads and power, but on the internet. 

Companies that are developing their own SaaS technology are building our future one digital brick at a time. To celebrate some of these companies, here is our list of the 8 Sexiest SaaS Companies of 2022. 

So far… 😉

ProtonVPN

Nothing is sexier than quality VPN. This VPN service was founded in 2016 by the Swiss company Proton Technologies (the company behind ProtonMail). They tout a heightened focus on security, a free, no-ad version of their VPN, and a much faster speed as differentiators. In a September 2019 TechRadar review:

ProtonVPN’s network is small, and we had some performance issues during testing. Still, speeds are generally better than average, the apps are well-designed and we have to applaud any genuine VPN which offers a free, unlimited bandwidth plan.” 

ProtonVPN currently has 1,529 servers in 61 countries. They are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. 

Linktree

You know what’s not sexy? Not having all of your social media links in one place. Thanks to Linktree, that’s no longer an annoyance. This freemium social media reference landing page was inspired by that very annoyance. It was reportedly created in six hours and had 3,000 users overnight. 

In 2019, Linktree was included on CNBC’s ‘Upstart 100’ list of “brightest, most intriguing, young startups promising to become the great companies of tomorrow.” 

Printify

You ever have a sexy tshirt idea but don’t know where you can get it printed? Worry no more. Printify, founded in 2015, is a freemium printing platform for artists, entrepreneurs, and more who need to produce their designs on any material – apparel, wall art, home decor, accessories, tshirts, even tablecloths. 

Tablecloths? That’s ridiculous. Sign me up. 

Tripactions

Sexy as it is, traveling is a real pain in the ass, no? Tripactions is a software-based solution to those ever-so-troublesome travel management issues. It’s a cloud-based, one-stop-shop for business travel that allows companies to book hotels, flights, and accommodations with zero hassle. 

Book trips, file receipts, modify reservations, track travel itineraries, chat with travel support agents, and reconcile expenses. Only thing that’s missing is a selfie for the haters. 

Shapr3D

The feeling of designing the perfect design is one of the sexiest feelings out there. Shapr3D is a modeling app for iPad Pro that’s way hotter than the competition. It’s a free app – all modeling tools are included within the app itself. It’s perfect for engineers, industrial designers, jewelry makers, 3D hobbyists, architects, and doodlers regardless of their experience in design. 

The Computer-aided design (CAD) industry is expected to blow up in the next few years. So, might want to hop on the Shapr3D train. 

Lokalise

If you want your work team to be at their sexiest, you might want to get ahold of Lokalise. This cloud-based localization and translation management system was designed primarily “for tech-driven teams managing iOS, Android apps, web, games, IoT or digital content, and software in general.

Lokalise is recognized for its “web-based collaborative editor, cross-platform projects and localization options, and plugins.” This hot little app streamlines the translation and localization process and collaboration among developers, designers, translators, and project managers.

Hopin

Zoom may be overdoing it, but Hopin is making video teleconferencing sexy again. Hopin has hosted over 80K events, working with organizers like United Nations, NATO, and Unilever. 

There are customizable rooms and user experiences. That means that hosts can create a number of creative programming. You can hop from room to room like one would at a live exposition. 

Not only that, but hosts will have access to a full suite of analytics to understand which events worked and which did not. 

Recorded Future

You can’t get much sexier than some serious security, right? Recorded Future is an intelligence platform designed to provide active recommendations around security. They specialize in the collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination of threat intelligence. 

By using their special patented machine learning and natural language processing methods to continuously collect and organize data from open web, dark web, and technical sources. These are the security kids you want on your side. 

What do you think are the sexiest SaaS companies of 2022? Is there anyone we didn’t include that you think you should have? Comment below and tell who you think should be included in our list of the Sexiest SaaS Companies of 2022.

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Helix-Tower: Amazon’s New Virginia’ HQ2′

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skyline

Here’s the other Amazon forest! The multinational online shopping firm will build a helix-shaped tower dubbed Amazon Virginia HQ2. The proposed infrastructure is complete with tree-lined “mountain” visitors can visit during the weekends. Arlington officials recently approved the construction of the tall building. 

According to a Daily Mail report, Amazon’s second headquarters in Virginia will sit in the middle of the company’s new $2.5-billion campus just across the River Potomac from Washington DC.  

The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the construction of the 350-foot-tall building. The NBBJ designed the building. NBBJ is an American global architecture, planning, and design firm with offices worldwide. 

Amazon Virginia HQ2 Will Dominate the Region’s Skyline

amazon helix

There’s a law that prohibits skyscrapers within the District of Columbia. The Height of Buildings Act of 1910 was approved by the 61st United States Congress on June 1, 1910, to limit the heights of buildings in DC. It generally bans building heights along residential streets to 90 feet and along commercial corridors to the width of the street’s right-of-way or avenue on which a building fronts, or a maximum of 130 feet, whichever is shorter.

The Amazon building will be one of the tallest structures in neighboring Arlington County. The Helix will dominate the region’s skyline from some vantage points like no building other than the Washington Monument. The structure generally features a spiral hike around its exterior, lined with trees, allowing visitors to follow an encircling outdoor ramp around the edge of the building to its summit. 

The proposed building was first launched by Amazon in February 2021 and is one of many large offices that the web giant on the site will construct.

It will be completed by 2025 and will welcome around 25,000 workers. Once fully operational, the campus will also include a separate park, a community high school, and multiple shops. 

Amazon has claimed that the Helix will have its artist in residence and meeting space for the staff. 

The online shopping leader’s global headquarters is in Washington, with Virginia now set to become its second-most-important US base. 

It spent years searching for a possible second headquarters, with multiple cities setting out its stall across the US.

Some even confirmed recommending amendments to local laws to simplify Amazon to settle and start doing business in the area. They did so, hoping that its presence would beef up their economies. 

Why New York City?

Amazon ultimately announced it had chosen New York City as its site in late 2018. It said it was planning to open a vast new base on Long Island City in Queens, just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan.That sparked fury from the cities that had lost out, who were angry that a metropolis already replete with jobs had landed yet another multinational firm.

Many New Yorkers were also angry and feared Amazon’s presence would further gentrify a notorious city for its astronomical cost of living.

There were also fears from progressive lawmakers – including US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – that the new Amazon Virginia HQ2 would price out poorer locals.

On Valentine’s Day 2019, the firm announced it had withdrawn its bid for its New York headquarters and was instead concentrating on building its Arlington site, which was announced alongside the Long Island City deal.

Following the release of The Helix’s design, people on the internet poke fun at its unusual structure, suggesting it resembles everything from soft-serve ice cream to a poop emoji to a Christmas tree and a cartoon turd.

NBBJ previously designed giant orb-shaped greenhouses for Amazon’s US headquarters in Seattle.

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New CEO Suspends Starbucks Share Buyback Program

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starbucks coffee logo and store

Starbucks announced big plans to lavish its shareholders with new rewards. The company announced it was reinstating the Starbucks share buyback program, promoting a $20 billion commitment in the next few years.

“While Starbucks’ growth this year will not be linear, we are certain our strategy helps a profit-positive company today. And in the long run, it would create value for all stakeholders, partners, customers, and our shareholders,” said Chief Financial Officer Rachel Ruggeri.

However, that plan was thrown out of the window when Howard Schultz assumed office as interim CEO on Monday, taking the company’s reins for the third time.

Why Did CEO Howard Schultz Suspend The Starbucks Share Buyback Program?

Howard Schultz is suspending Starbucks’ share buyback program, announcing on the first day of his third term as the US coffee chain’s CEO. It means redirecting the capital to its stores and staff. The decision is a response to the growing unionization movement in Starbucks. Also, it could be attributed to the rising wage and commodity costs, potential threats due to its suspension of operations in Russia, and COVID- related lockdowns in China.

“This decision will help us invest more in our employees and our stores. It is the only way to create long-term value for all stakeholders,” Schultz said.

howard schultz

What happened? Share buybacks are under political observation after reaching an all-time high of $882 billion among S&P 500 companies in 2021. Giving cash to investors generally boosts share prices by reducing the number available. Still, critics say that money would be better spent on workers and other investments that can broaden the economy.

Last week, US President Joe Biden proposed new rules to curb the practice. However, a Starbucks spokesperson stated that the decision was not about the political climate. The decision to suspend Starbucks’ share buyback program was solely a company’s plan. 

The other significant factor, then, is workers. Since December 2021, several Starbucks stores have unionized despite the company’s plans. Schultz has tried to discourage workers from organizing unions, citing the importance of a “direct and shared relationship” with workers.

But at the height of the pandemic, employees who are fed up with long hours and health risks have more power than they used to. Job openings in the United States reached 11.3 million in February as companies struggled to hire and retain workers.

Last Friday, Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York City, voted to create the first US union in the tech giant’s 27-year history.

In suspending the Starbucks share buyback program, Schultz hoped to set a different tone for his term. This would not be a company playing by Wall Street’s rules but by Main Street. Shareholders would not be the company’s primary stakeholders. Instead, Starbucks would work to make life better for its workers.

The statement was an apparent response to a growing unionization effort underway at almost 200 Starbucks stores around the country. It is part of an effort that has diminished its reputation as an employee-friendly company.

In this situation, generous share buybacks may be more challenging for management to defend, and boards like Starbucks may decide that money should go to staff instead. After all, stockholders had it pretty good during the pandemic.

Shares of Starbucks fell almost 3% in premarket trading on Monday. While they have dropped 22% so far this year, they gained 33% across 2020 and 2021. 

“If Starbucks can afford to spend $20 billion on stock buybacks and dividends, it can afford a unionized workforce,” Schultz said.

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