By Michael Tomberlin
The weather was a frightful 99 degrees outside Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United’s Birmingham headquarters Tuesday but inside it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
The fourth-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in the U.S. is among the first to roll out two new flavors for the Christmas holiday season: Coca-Cola Cinnamon and Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry. Coca-Cola United marked the occasion with a launch party full of holiday music and featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus and the polar bear that has become a part of Coke Christmas promotions.
“With these new flavors, they kind of scream ‘holidays,’” said Rebecca Garner, media and promotions manager at Coca-Cola United.
Coca-Cola United will bottle the new flavors at its nine production facilities that serve parts of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The independent bottler has 10,000 employees, and in addition to the production facilities operates 53 sales and distribution centers.
In addition to the new flavors, the Birmingham company is rolling out new packaging for the holidays that features Santa and the popular bears from past marketing efforts. The Coca-Cola app can be used to unlock some augmented reality when a smartphone is pointed at the new bottles and cans.
The new flavors and packaging won’t launch in other markets for several weeks. Garner said it’s a sign of what Coke and Coca-Cola United have in the works.
“Next year is going to be really great year from us,” Garner said. “We’re going to be introducing a lot of new stuff, so stay tuned.”