Coke scraps "Classic" tag from flagship cola: report

Employees of Coca-Cola (Japan) Company show new (R) and old Coca-Cola cans during the unveiling ceremony of the company's new "The Coke Side of Life" campaign at its headquarters in Tokyo January 22, 2007. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co KO.N plans to remove the word "Classic" from packages of its flagship cola in the United States, aiming to appeal to a wider audience of consumers, an industry newsletter said on Friday.

The change is part of “a broader plan and strategy to revitalize the brand,” said Beverage Digest, citing Hendrik Steckhan, president of Coke North America’s carbonated soft drink business.

According to the report, Steckhan said removing the word may enhance appeal to younger consumers, since “some people interpreted it like a vintage car.” Removing “Classic” “may take one source of confusion away” about Coke’s contemporary qualities, he said.

A Coke spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

According to Beverage Digest, the world’s largest soft drink maker is already selling some bottles of Coca-Cola without the word “Classic.” Coca-Cola added the description to its brand name in 1985, after it introduced “New Coke,” which had a different formula from the original.

About 1.7 billion cases of Coke Classic were sold in U.S. supermarkets, drug stores and convenience stores in 2007, according to Beverage Digest, whose data excludes sales at Wal-Mart Stores Inc WMT.N.

Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Dave Zimmerman