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Pitching the Coca-Cola Success Story at MC School of Business

Mississippi College President Lee Royce, Coca-Cola's Phil Mooney and Don Cheek, and MC School of Business Dean Marcelo Eduardo pictured at Self Hall for the Executive Speaker Series on March 7.

Sabrina Qiu remembers enjoying the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola when she was attending elementary school in China.

“All the young kids liked it in China,’’ says Qiu, a Mississippi College School of Business graduate student. “During the summer, I would drink it with ice and it made you feel really good. I like Coke Classic.’’

A staff member at MC’s Office of Global Education, Qiu was among hundreds of students in the audience as two Coca-Cola executives gave students a close-up look at the world’s largest beverage company.

Executives Phil Mooney and Don Cheek took MC business students on a journey from Coca Cola’s  beginnings in 1886 when the company sold just nine drinks per day through the boom times since the World War II era. Today, the 127-year-old beverage powerhouse reaches more than 200 nations around the globe. At the moment, Coca-Cola does no business in two countries – North Korea and Cuba.

Students watched on video screens at Self Hall as the company showcased its popular new ad campaign in Singapore featuring the words “Hug Me’’ on Coca-Cola’s latest drink machines.

MC student Ali Garrison of Raymond enjoyed watching the video and hearing the Coca-Cola leaders from the company’s Atlanta headquarters. “It was very good information,’’ she said. A Mississippi College cheerleader, she’s a big fan of Coke Classic.

The director of the Archives Department of Coca-Cola since 1977, Mooney recalled the company’s controversial move in 1986 to tinker with their winning secret formula and introduce New Coke to the world. Luckily for company executives, social media and emails didn’t exist at the time.

The new product sparked longtime Coca-Cola consumers to protest in the streets, and jam phone lines with a barrage of angry calls. “You are out of your minds!,’’ Mooney said to sum up the feelings of many upset consumers around the USA. “It was not a good idea.’’ Seventy-nine days later, the company re-introduced Coke Classic, and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

In his role as archivist for Coca-Cola and vice president of its Heritage Communications, Mooney has conducted numerous media interviews including appearances on NBC’s “Today Show’’ and “The Food Network,’’ among others.

For Don Cheek, a former Mississippi College football player from 1969 to 1973, it was a homecoming of sorts as he addressed the School of Business Executive Speaker Series at his alma mater. He serves as finance director of the company’s Global IT division. The Atlanta native previously served as chief financial officer for the company’s bottling operations in South Korea, Sweden, France and Louisiana.

Worldwide, Coca-Cola serves 1.8 billion drinks every 24 hours. The company’s goal is to double that by 2020.

Regardless of the next ad campaign or what Coca-Cola posts on its Facebook page, Mississippi College b students including accounting major Renee Hood of Vicksburg will continue to drink the beverage she’s loved for years. Her favorite is Coke served from a soda fountain. “It just tastes fresher.’’

School of Business Dean Marcelo Eduardo, President Lee Royce and his wife, Rhoda, plus a number of business professors were among those applauding the visitors from Coca-Cola.