When Coca Cola Came to France

Editorial Feature

By Google Arts & Culture

Coca Cola Comes To France (1950-04-04) by Mark KauffmanLIFE Photo Collection

Coca-Colonization and La Révolution du Froid

Though Coca-Cola had been unofficially available in France since the Second World War, the so-called “Coca-Colonization” didn’t begin in earnest until 1950. The American company launched a focused and forceful marketing campaign, dedicated to getting the sugary soft drink into every fridge in France.

Coca Cola Comes To France, Mark Kauffman, 1950-04-04 (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)

Coca Cola Comes To France (1950-04-04) by Mark KauffmanLIFE Photo Collection

Coca Cola Comes To France, Mark Kauffman, 1950-04-04 (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)

The French were suspicious of this pseudo-medical drink: meeting no human need and owing its success in the USA to enormous marketing campaigns – ads, free samples, and snappy slogans – Coca-Cola was seen as the very “essence of capitalism”.

Coca Cola Comes To France (1950-04-04) by Mark KauffmanLIFE Photo Collection

Coca Cola Comes To France, Mark Kauffman, 1950-04-04 (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)

French wine-makers were even more skeptical, suggesting that the free tastings Coca-Cola were offering to adults and children in Paris could only mean one thing: the drink was addictive.

Coca Cola Comes To France (1950-04-04) by Mark KauffmanLIFE Photo Collection

Coca Cola Comes To France, Mark Kauffman, 1950-04-04 (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)

Despite initial protest, the French government did finally grant a license for the brewing and bottling of Coca-Cola in France in 1952. However, per capita consumption of Coca-Cola in France today remains lower than in almost all other Western European nations. Perhaps the sticky-sweet aroma of capitalism is still a little too much for the French.

Coca Cola Comes To France (1950-04-04) by Mark KauffmanLIFE Photo Collection

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