Last Monday, during MUFSO, Coca-Cola's publicist invited us to have dinner at restaurant Stephan Pyles with some PR flacks from Brinker International and some executives from Coca-Cola.
I think she thought the Brinker people were a draw for us, because we like to spend time with restaurant operators, but for me at least it was all about getting closer to Coke.
I'm not sure why, exactly. I mean, Coke is a great big company like many others, with lots of executives who buy and sell things for it and manage other people who buy and sell things for it. But it's also an American icon, and although I enjoyed hearing Coke trade communications manager Ben Middleton tell me about his daughters Claudia (9) and Harriet (4) (at her elementary school in Dunwoody, Ga., Claudia is studying German, something school administrators think will help children learn their English grammar better), I was thrilled to learn the Five Steps to Quality for fountain drinks.
1) Syrup age (no more than 120 days for syrups containing sugar, 90 days for those with no-calorie sweeteners)
2) Temperature (it should be cold)
3) Proper amount of ice
4) Correct level of carbonation
5) Water-to-syrup ratio (generally 4.75 to 1)
Someone from NRN asked Carlton Curtis, vice president of industry affairs for Coca-Cola North America Foodservice and Hospitality Division, what the most successful marketing campaign for Coke was.
He said it was "It's the real thing."