The Coca-Cola Company celebrates this year,100 years of its iconic contour bottle, with a host of different activities aimed at paying tribute to what is perhaps the most recognized packaging of any product or brand globally. The bottle was created in 1915 by The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana after Coca-Cola released a brief to ‘design a bottle so distinctive that it could be recognized by touch alone and so unique that it could be identified when shattered on ground’.
Launched in 1916 as a six and a half ounce refillable glass contour bottle, the bottle has achieved iconic status as a symbol of refreshment and uplift and it remains an important asset for the Company’s business even today, a hundred years later. Prior to its creation, Coca-Cola bottlers had used straight-sided bottles in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. However, as the popularity of Coca-Cola increased, so did the number of imitators. To address the problem and fend off a host of impersonating brands, the Company and its bottling partners issued a creative challenge to a handful of U.S. glass companies: to develop a distinctive bottle design.
The bottle was patented on November 16, 1915 and has since inspired a century’s worth of signature moments in film, social history, design and fine arts. Speaking about the unique contour bottle, General Manager of The Coca-Cola Export Corporation, Pakistan, Rizwan U. Khan stated: “It’s not just about logotypes and packaging; Coca-Cola has infused, enhanced, even defined culture almost since its inception in 1886—everyone from Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Jimi Hendrix to Jesse Owens, Gladys Night, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen have been captured enjoying a Coca-Cola from that iconic, contoured glass bottle. Even Madam Noor Jehan, used the term ‘Coca-Cola’ for her hit song entitled ‘Zalima Coca-Cola Pila Dey’. Today, the brand’s universal appeal has established Coca-Cola as a worldwide symbol for shared moments of joy and refreshment.”
The contour bottle design became so popular, so familiar and instantly recognizable, that in 1949, just 33 years later after its launch, a study showed that only less than one percent of Americans could not identify the Coca-Cola bottle by shape alone. And in April 12, 1961, the U.S. Patent Office declared the bottle’s “distinctive contour shape” to be so quintessential, so unmistakable, that the form itself was awarded trademark status. The bottle was launched in Pakistan in 1953.