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April 24 2015 4:40 PM

Study: How Much Paper Would It Take to Print the Entire Internet?

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

A quick and dirty calculation reveals that you could print the entire internet on 136 billion pieces of standard 8-by-11 sheets of paper.


Stack that many sheets of paper one on top of the other and you would get a column about 8,300 miles high! (Assuming that the average thickness of each sheet is .0039 inches.)

George Harwood and Evangeline Walker, students at the University of Leicester in the UK, determined this by first estimating how many pages it would take to print every Wikipedia webpage, which came out to a staggering 70,859,865 pieces of paper.

They then extrapolated that value to the number of total webpages on the internet, roughly 4.5 billion, tweaked their final guess to account for the variable size of different websites, and discovered it takes quite a lot of paper to print the internet, but not an immeasurable amount. (They don't specify the size, type, or spacing of the print you would use, which could change their final result.)

But they didn't stop there. They went one step farther to then gauge how many trees it would take to manufacture 136 billion sheets of paper.

"The pulp used to produce paper can be made from many softwood trees including Birch and Oak, and hardwood trees such as Fir and Pine," they write in their report. "It is possible to obtain approximately 17 reams of paper per usable tree."

There are about 500 sheets of paper per ream. After that, it just takes a quick calculation to figure out that it would take 16 million trees to print 136 billion sheets of standard 8-by-11 sheets of paper. That's more than three times the number of trees growing in New York City at this moment.

Harwood and Walker report the results of their intriguing thought experiment in a peer-reviewed student journal run by their university's Center for Interdisciplinary Science. The journal gives students the chance to write, edit, publish, and review scientific papers.

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April 23 2015 12:58 PM

Airbnb Now Says It Has a Solution to San Francisco's Affordability Problem

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Room-rental service startup Airbnb is going on the offensive.


In New York, state legislators have failed to pass a bill that would make partial-apartment rentals under 30 days legal. Meanwhile, Airbnb's home city of San Francisco struggles with regulating Airbnb, despite what the startup characterizes as good-faith efforts to work closely with city authorities. 

And this week, California state legislators as well as city legislators in San Francisco are discussing a bill that Airbnb says would let local authorities sift through personal information about its customers in order to make sure that they're paying all of their related taxes properly, in what could be a gross invasion of privacy. 

Airbnb seems to have had enough of playing nice. Now, it's going straight for politicians right where it hurts: their constituents. On a new website, launched today, the startup is highlighting one citizen of each of San Francisco's 11 districts who say they couldn't afford to live in the hyper-expensive city without the revenue they earn by renting out rooms on Airbnb.

In fact, Airbnb says the average host in San Francisco makes $13,000 a year, on an average of 6.5 nights stayed in a rented room. "In neighborhoods across this city, home sharing is making this city more affordable for thousands of San Franciscans," Airbnb says in a statement. "Instead of Trojan Horse proposals designed to effectively ban home sharing, lawmakers should focus on making it easier for San Franciscans to share their homes and follow the rules."

It's a transparent marketing ploy designed to confront San Francisco councilpeople with the impact any anti-Airbnb legislation might have in their districts, but it tells some emotional stories. Here's one from Kevin & Esther Krejci, who live in San Francisco's District 4, the residential Sunset area: 

My husband and I have been sharing a room in our Sunset home. Since Kevin was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, it has been the money we make hosting on Airbnb that makes it possible to pay his medical and physical therapy bills. The visitors we've welcomed from across the world have taught us so much, especially our children, who learned to welcome people of different cultures, and understanding their own stories that they have. San Francisco is expensive, very expensive, and for our family hosting on Airbnb has made it affordable.

Here's another from PK Paksaichol, who lives in District 11, the working-class Excelsior neighborhood:

For years my wife wanted to go back to school to earn an MBA and obtain her real estate license. But doing so was expensive and felt out of reach. Without sharing a room in our Excelsior home, there was no way we could have afforded tuition. It just wasn't possible. For our family, home sharing has made San Francisco affordable—and for my wife, it has allowed her to pursue her dreams.

Obviously, these stories are supposed to tug on the heartstrings. But it is true that Airbnb is an alternative revenue stream for those who need one. At the same time, though, it's hard to ignore rampant abuses, like people renting out their rent-controlled apartments at a profit. Airbnb rentals may also reduce long-term rental supply in the already crowded San Francisco.

But at the same time, these are real people who rely on Airbnb to subsidize a big part of their livelihood. It'll be up to local regulators to decide which way they want to go. 

April 20 2015 3:44 PM

Small Businesses, Brace Yourselves: Google's Mobilegeddon Is Upon Us

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

On Tuesday, April 21, Google is making a major update to its mobile search algorithm that will change the order in which websites are ranked when users search for something from their phone.


The algorithm will start favoring mobile-friendly websites (ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit whatever screen they're viewed on) and ranking them higher in search. Websites that aren't mobile-friendly will get demoted. About 60 percent of online traffic now comes from mobile and Google wants users to have a good experience whenever they click on a mobile link.  

The company announced its impending changes back in February, giving webmasters nearly two months and plenty of information to make the changes necessary to keep their sites from disappearing from mobile search results. But the update is still expected to cause a major ranking shake-up. It has even been nicknamed "Mobile-geddon" because of how "apocalyptic" it could be for millions of websites, Itai Sadan, CEO of website building company Duda, told Business Insider.  

"I think the people who are at risk are those who don’t know about it," Sadan says. To him, that mostly means small businesses. "Come April 21, a lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web," he says.

Businesses that depend on people finding them through localized search—like, if someone typed "coffee shops in Sunnyside, Queens," into Google on their phone—could see a decrease in foot traffic as a result of this update, Sadan says.

"Google has always been about relevancy, and content is king," he says. "But that's changing. Yes, they're saying content is still extremely important, but user experience is just as important. It's not sufficient to have all the right content—if people come to your site and the content is there but it's not readable, that's not good."

It's not only small businesses that are going to be affected by mobile-geddon, though. Marketing company Somo released a study last week that found that a bunch of big brands, like American Apparel, The Daily Mail, and Ryanair, will all get punished when the change takes place, unless they update their sites before Tuesday.  

April 17 2015 5:47 PM

Discount Retailer T.J. Maxx Doesn't Work the Way You Think

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

T.J. Maxx is the leader of discount retail, offering designer labels for a fraction of department store prices. One of the biggest myths about T.J. Maxx is that the retailer stocks defective or unattractive merchandise that Macy's and Nordstrom couldn't sell.


The reality is vastly different: Suppliers purposefully create excess merchandise for the retailer, Fortune reports. These products are identical to what you would buy at department stores. T.J. Maxx produces merchandise, too. About 10 percent of its merchandise comes from in-house labels. 

Behind T.J. Maxx's amazing selections are some of the best buyers in the industry, writes Beth Kowitt at Fortune. The company aggressively invests in training for its 900 merchants, making sure that each develops expertise in a certain category (like handbags, shoes, or menswear). 

"It’s pretty hardcore because it has to be," a former buyer told Fortune. "You're negotiating millions of dollars." The company has 3,385 locations after adding hundreds of new stores in the past year and is expected to surpass Macy's in sales. 

April 15 2015 2:02 PM

This Is How McDonald’s Franchisees Really Feel About the Golden Arches’ Future

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

McDonald's franchisees say the company's turnaround plan is going to fail and eventually force operators out of business, according to a new survey. "The system is broken," one franchisee wrote in response to the survey, by Janney Capital Markets. "There is no leadership, no plan, no respect for operators or their investment or bottom line."


Another wrote: "The future looks very bleak. I'm selling my McDonald's stock. The morale of franchisees is at its lowest level ever." Added a third: "We will continue to fall and fail." The franchisees' six-month outlook for the company's U.S. business was the worst in more than 11 years of the survey.

Franchisees operate about 90 percent of the roughly 14,000 McDonald's locations in the U.S. They were surveyed after a summit in which executives from the company's headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, unveiled their plans for the company's future. Those plans include adding upscale, customizable burgers to the menu and improving food quality.

More than a half-dozen operators said the summit was a complete waste of their time. "Instead of acknowledging and solving the real problems facing us today, they chose to pretend that everything is normal and to look at what the restaurant of the future will be," one franchisee wrote. "They did nothing to address what the REAL problems are in our system: significant financial problems for owner/operators and menu complexity. ... It's as if they have NO CLUE of what our world looks like."

Another said the costs of the upgrades would force some franchisees out of business. "Why go out to a cheerleading camp when you don't have a direction in mind and the team is in shambles," the franchisee wrote. "This is going to take some time. Only the franchisees with minimal or no debt can ride it out. There will be a lot of fallout and many franchisees will be forced to leave the system with little or nothing."

Most franchisees cited costs as a major hurdle to the turnaround plan. They said that aggressive promotions by McDonald's, along with lagging sales, have bankrupted them and that they can't afford any new investments in their stores. 

Equipment for the new customizable burgers, called Create Your Taste, will reportedly cost between $120,000 and $160,000. "Leadership is out of touch with the financial realities that owner/operators are facing. This is not the time to ask us to take on significantly more debt," one franchisee wrote. "The restaurant of the future will cost a lot of money and will be even more labor-intensive than the stores already are. This is a step backwards."

Many franchisees also complained that the menu keeps expanding despite promises from corporate that it would be slimmed down to help speed up customer service. "They say they are going to simplify the menu and then add the Sirloin Burger and new ingredients," one franchisee wrote. "They are continually forcing new products on the owners to try and drive sales, but the new products continue to slow service and frustrate managers and crew in the restaurants."

Others complained that executives seemed confused about what kind of restaurant they wanted McDonald's to be. The chain is trying too hard to be "all things to all people," one franchisee wrote. Another said: "I came away from the summit completely confused. McDonald's management does not know what we want to be. Expensive (and slow) custom burgers in the same restaurant where we sell the Dollar Menu?"

April 14 2015 2:55 PM

This Computer Science Major Couldn’t Get a Best Buy Job. Now He Refuses to Pay Back His For-Profit College Loans

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

At 28, Michael Adorno got fed up with his low-wage job at a pizzeria in Richmond Hill, Georgia, and decided to go to college. Adorno attended the for-profit Everest College, part of Corinthian Colleges Inc., in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from 2010 to 2012, and he received an associate degree in network administration. 


Three years later Adorno is unemployed and was even rejected from a job at Best Buy. Adorno belongs to a group called the Corinthian 100, alumni of Corinthian Colleges who refuse to pay back their student loans and claim they were defrauded by Corinthian. Like other members of the group, he claims he got a subpar education and was left with massive debt and no suitable job.

Before 2014, Corinthian Colleges Inc. was a network of more than 100 schools and one of the largest for-profit college companies in the U.S. But numerous investigations and lawsuits alleging wrongdoing against the company rapidly decreased its size. In July, an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education forced Corinthian to sell 85 of its schools and close another 12.

As the first person in his family to attend college, Adorno was excited, but he admittedly didn't know a lot about higher education and financial decisions. "I felt especially proud to take this first step forward, because I thought maybe it would be a big role-model experience for myself, and to set that example for my friends and my brother," Adorno told Business Insider.

He said that he relied on the college to give him accurate information about financial aid, something he said did not happen. "It was such a rushed experience," Adorno said. "My student adviser, she was a great salesman. I don't understand why she wasn't selling cars or something else."

Michael Adorno

Courtesy of Michael Adorno/Business Insider

He said his adviser promised that he would not be on the hook for student loan payments until after he graduated. But he said that he started getting requests for payment on his loans while still at Everest. Still, amid a rushed process and some confusion, Adorno pushed ahead. "I was just ready—I was just ready, ready, ready, to pull the trigger on something that was going to lead me to a more prosperous future with a better career, like I said, instead of delivering pizzas," he said.

When Adorno got to Everest, he said, he was immediately disappointed. He said Everest sold him on the promise that he'd get hands-on experiences with emerging technologies that would prepare him for high-caliber IT positions. But Adorno ended up taking a lot of unnecessary gen-ed classes such as literature and oral communications, he said.

And when Adorno, who said he has had a lifelong interest in computer systems, finally got into the core classes of the degree program, he said he was shocked by the outdated technologies offered at Everest. "I mean, I was learning how to work with operating systems that were 10, 15 years old. ... Why, why on earth was I being taught on systems that were already obsolete, outdated?" he said.

Adorno told Business Insider that one of the most compelling reasons he attended Everest was its pledge to provide lifetime career placement services. But he quickly realized he couldn't find work in an IT department, he said. The only job that Adorno said Everest could get him was working in a call center administered by Xerox. The role was a customer-service position that didn't require a college degree.

He did not accept that job.

He looked into attending Colorado Technical University to pursue a bachelor's degree, but when he went there he discovered some of his classes didn't transfer. He'd have to incur even more debt, which he said would "again lead me to keep plunging down the hole." Adorno eventually moved back to Georgia, where he took a job as an assistant manager at a Little Caesars. He said he was demoralized after attending Everest and didn't think he had any other options.

"I had to kind of pull myself back together and stop chasing that dream," Adorno said, "because there was no call-backs when I started looking into local technical recruiters. I wasn't getting any calls back with the info on my résumé having gone to Everest. I almost felt that, because I had that on my résumé, that's why they might not be calling me, because they might have intimate knowledge of their practices."

Now, at 33, Adorno has moved in with his mom, in Alexandria, Virginia, and is unemployed, but he said he is using the time to find an entry-level position in IT in or around Washington, D.C. He voiced frustration at getting rejected from a job with the Geek Squad at Best Buy. He is trying to remain upbeat, though he has no serious job leads. "Again, I feel a lot of it boils down to the fact that they are looking at the whole Everest thing," he said. 

He spoke about the $37,000 of student-loan debt that he's been deferring for the past three years. He and the other members of the Corinthian 100 are trying to get the Department of Education to discharge that debt. "What I expect to see is a full discharge of these loans so that I can reclaim a better chance at higher education," he said. "I still want to be able to go back to school."

We reached out to a representative for Corinthian for comment on Adorno's experience, and we will update this post if we hear back. Previously, the company told us in a statement that "career colleges like Corinthian play an important role in the U.S. education system and serve a need that would otherwise be unmet."

Correction: The headline originally said that Adorno is suing Corinthian Colleges. He is refusing to pay his loans back.

April 13 2015 3:33 PM

Some McDonald’s Are So Worried About Taco Bell Breakfast That They’ll Give You a Free Egg McMuffin

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Some McDonald's restaurants are allowing customers to exchange Taco Bell breakfast receipts for a free Egg McMuffin. 


The promotion, which appears to be limited to McDonald's locations in Northeast Pennsylvania, is a sign that the burger chain is worried about its breakfast competition, according to Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski.

"Clearly, at least some McDonald's folks are concerned about the potential competition at breakfast that Taco Bell could provide over time—and maybe is providing right now," Kalinowski wrote in a research note.

Taco Bell has been ramping up its attacks against McDonald's since launching its first breakfast menu last year. In its latest ad campaign, Taco Bell compares McDonald's with a communist dictatorship where everyone is forced to eat Egg McMuffins.

McDonald's has long been the leader in fast food breakfast. The chain commanded a 19 percent share of the morning market in 2013, according to Nielsen Co. data cited by Reuters. The next closest rivals, Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, each had a 7 percent market share that year, by comparison.

But McDonald's sales are sliding, so it has to play offense. The company is rolling out a more upscale menu, making its burgers customizable, and removing hard-to-pronounce ingredients from its chicken. It has also slimmed down its menu to help speed up customer service.

And while Taco Bell has throwing direct punches at McDonald's in its advertising, McDonald's has taken a different approach with light-hearted ads touting "lovin' " over "hatin'."

As part of a recent promotion, for example, McDonald's started accepting selfies, hugs, and other forms of so-called "lovin' " as payment. 

April 10 2015 2:02 PM

Sure, It Tells Time, but Can You Date on It?

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

The launch of the Apple Watch brings new possibilities: one of which is watch-based dating. 3nder, the dating app for threesomes, has come up with something called Close Encounters, which is designed especially for the wrist. 


3nder talks about its new concept in a Medium post, and says that the Apple Watch "inspired us to create something that will help all of us. A new way to connect with open-minded people." The matchmaking tool isn't for three-ways, unlike 3nder, but it does look like it'll be about "evolving beyond social norms."

Firstly, you can't see anyone else on the app. Only basic information, a bio, interests, and desires are featured. Close Encounters has no photos—"We decided to ditch photos and focus on the surprise element of dating. It’s similar to blind dating, that’s why we tease you with some bits of information about the human,"3nder explains on Medium.

Another intriguing part of the Apple Watch app is that there's no "device interaction" required at all. The technology works by notifying users when someone else is close by: Close Encounters will make the Apple Watch vibrate on users' wrists, then show people, using little red dots on the screen, where other people are.

If an Apple Watch dater likes the look of someone's interests, desires, and so on, they just have to share their location and a little red line appears that will lead both parties to one another.

3nder does have safety and privacy in mind, though. Users can hide or ignore potential matches if they're not feeling like a date. And if they agree to a meet, they can activate something called "Emergency Mode," which will tell the police where they are and share the location of their "date."

The developer believes this is the future of dating. Technology has certainly revolutionised the way people get together. First came websites, such as OkCupid and Plenty of Fish. And with smartphones, apps like Tinder and Happn arrived. A dating app for watches is inevitable. 

Close Encounters hasn't launched yet—and probably won't for a while, as Apple is being restrictive about who can release a product. But Dimo Trifonov from 3nder told me that his team plan develop it once Apple grants "full access to the SDK." As he mentioned, things took a while to get going with the first iPhone, too.

"Hopefully they are going to give us more access by the end of the year," Trifonov noted. "So it might take couple of months or a year." Right now, only big players including Uber, Citymapper, and Nike have apps on Apple Watches.

There hasn't been a lot of news about dating apps on the Apple Watch. But The League, Tinder for the rich and successful, did say that it will match Apple Watch users together. Even then, its developers haven't said anything about developing a product-specific version of its app.

April 9 2015 5:50 PM

The Students Who Got Into Eight Ivies Are All Children of Immigrants

This post first appeared on Business Insider.

With some of the lowest acceptance rates in the country, the Ivy League universities are notoriously tough to get in to. Acceptance to all eight is nearly impossible. But a handful of students have gotten eight Ivy acceptances for the class of 2019. These students have one specific thing in common—they're all the children of immigrants.


Take Cape Fear Academy student Victor Agbafe. His mother, who now lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, emigrated from Nigeria. Munira Khalif, who attends Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the daughter of Somali immigrants. Likewise, current Yale University freshman Kwasi Enin made headlines last year when he got accepted to each of the Ivies. Enin's parents both emigrated to the U.S. from Ghana.

Other students who received eight Ivy League acceptance letters are immigrants themselves. Harold Ekeh now attends Elmont Memorial High School on Long Island, New York, but moved to the U.S. with his family from Nigeria when he was 8 years old. That's the same age North Central High School student Stefan Stoykov was when his family moved from Bulgaria to Indianapolis.

Aside from their Ivy League acceptances, these students also scored a number of "yes" letters from equally impressive and competitive colleges. Three of the high school seniors got accepted to Stanford University—the most competitive college in the country—and at least one was accepted to MIT.

Many credit their success to their parents' experiences growing up outside the U.S. "When I was growing up, my mom told me her own story of growing up in Somalia. My grandfather was a very revolutionary man in that he not only wanted to educate his sons, but also his daughters," Khalif told the Star Tribune. "My mom got that opportunity and passed that opportunity on to me. It put me in a position where I thought I had to give back."

April 8 2015 4:59 PM

Is Coca-Cola Going Flat?

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Too many times in recent months, headline writers have had reason to write that "Coke is losing its fizz."


Pepsi-Cola surpassed Diet Coke to become the second biggest soda brand in the U.S. (Coca-Cola's biggest market), Beverage Digest reported last month. Diet Coke had been the second biggest soda brand by volume in the US since 2010, but Pepsi's shift back to No.2 provided evidence of America's growing dislike for diet sodas—and that is at a time when Americans are drinking less soda overall than in the 1980s.

Before that report was published, Coca-Cola reported that net earnings attributable to shareholders plunged 55 percent in its fourth quarter to $770 million. Net operating revenue dropped 2 percent in the quarter to $10.9 billion (but global sales did increase slightly over the full year). North America, its biggest market, saw a modest sales rise for the first time in four quarters.

The long-term picture is worse. In 2014, global revenue was $46 billion, down 4 percent ($2 billion less) from 2012.

This downward trajectory isn't due to a sudden, major catalyst. As Beverage Digest's report explains: "Brand Coke's volume was up (0.1 percent), but just barely. However, the brand was up, after multiple years of decline. The last time brand Coke grew was 2000." 

Globally, Coca-Cola has been missing its own 3 percent to 4 percent annual volume growth target for two years, as this chart—drawn from data compiled by the Wall Street Journal—indicates.


Coca-Cola/The Wall Street Journal/Business Insider

It's not just Coke experiencing this issue: The entire soda market in the U.S., picking out one region as an example, is in decline. The attention is on Coke because it is the leader of the sector. It may yet be decades before people start referring to Coke in the same way they do Kodak, and its terminal decline may not even happen at all. But if the company does not make a big strategic move soon, a massively mature market could be coming to an end.

Right now, Coke is on the way out. Not with a bang, but a long, slow whimper.

Coca-Cola's CEO Muhtar Kent said 2015 would be a "transition year," and that it would like time for the benefits of the $3 billion cost-cutting plan it announced in October to materialize "amidst an uncertain and volatile macroeconomic environment."

The "transition" Kent is looking for is already evident in some of its most recent actions: It has invited 10 agencies to pitch ideas for its next global marketing campaign. In Europe it has redesigned the packaging across all its different flavors to look the same, and it is dropping its marketing for individual brands like Diet Coke and Coke Zero. All marketing will instead be consolidated under the Coca-Cola brand in the region (you will still see other products from the portfolio in ads, but there will be no more individual ads like the famous "Diet Coke hunk" campaign.)

But as sales continue to fall from previous heights as consumers change their drinking habits, opting for healthier beverages (its portfolio of sugary drinks is another reason Coke often hits the headlines for negative reasons,) are the big marketing changes coming all too late, or can they really save the company from falling into a terminal decline?

No matter which stat you look at, Coke's value as a business appears to be eroding. In recent years, Coca-Cola has been edged out of the top five in BrandZ's annual "Top 100 most valuable brands" rankings by tech companies, and even McDonald's. Coca-Cola does fare better in Interbrand's annual rankings—coming third last year, behind Google (2) and Apple (1.)

But Coke is unlikely to dominate those lists again, according to Melbourne Business School associate professor of marketing, branding consultant, and Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson.

He told Business Insider: "Coke will always be the leading brand of cola until the end of time. But the value of that cola category is set to plummet over the next 20 years. It's no good being a big fish in an ever smaller pond. The days of Coke being the world's biggest brand are over forever."

And that's down to nuanced drinking habits becoming more widespread, Ritson added: "Natural products, organic ingredients, incredibly fresh origin, local provenance—these were initially the watchwords of small groups of maven consumers, but this movement has become more and more pronounced in the developed world in recent years. And it will only get stronger in the years to come. The very success and former dominance of Coca-Cola during the 20th century blinded them to the very different market conditions that the 21st century ushered in and left them suddenly vulnerable to change."

Coke's move across Europe to advertise its entire range, rather than each brand separately, has some clear advantages: It eases confusion around its ever-increasing portfolio of brand extensions; it shifts focus away from its unhealthier products to low or no calorie variants; and it has the potential to cut costs.

Coca-Cola tells us that the move is not about cutting marketing investment (on the contrary, it plans to increase investment in the Coca-Cola trademark in Great Britain, for example), but there will no doubt be savings in areas where there are now crossovers.

We asked what would happen to the brand managers and marketing managers who worked on specific brands like Diet Coke or Coke Zero. A Coca-Cola spokeswoman told us that the company is currently going through a global reorganization that will affect 1,600 to 1,800 roles across corporate, Coca-Cola North America, and Coca-Cola International—but it's too soon to say how many roles will be impacted in Europe.

The move to the master brand approach could well be adopted in North America and other global markets too. The result of its recent ad agency pitch will likely see the end of the brand's six-year "Open Happiness" activity and a push into a new creative direction for the flagship red Coca-Cola brand.

In a statement the company said: "We have invited a selection of our key agencies from around the world to bring their best thinking to Coca-Cola in order to create the strongest work for our flagship brand. We are always pushing ourselves and our agencies to deliver world class creative with global appeal that engages and entertains our consumers and drives business growth. This process will help us harness thinking from some of the best agency minds from around the world to deliver the best possible work."

Elspeth Cheung, global BrandZ valuation director, told Business Insider that Coca-Cola's recent campaign to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its famous contoured bottle, setting up retro-themed pop-up shops in major cities, and a wider advertising push "starring" icons like Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe shows the power of the master brand still exists today.

Cheung said: "There are few other brands that could challenge Coke by matching this, and this is all due to the historical cultivation of the Coca-Cola master brand. If anything is going to revive the business, it will be this signature brand—which is the most recognized around the world."

However, Cheung adds: "I would advise the brand owner not to concentrate on the cost saving advantage that the use of master brand will bring about. BrandZ research shows that brands in categories such as beer and cars which have shifted the focus to the operational advantages of global economies of scale have caused their brands to become less unique and distinctive."

Coke also needs to look beyond advertising alone to usher in its turnaround. Jamal Benmiloud, a former vice president of marketing at Monster Energy (and former UK head of marketing at Red Bull,) who is now the chief creative officer and founder of marketing agency EARN, thinks Coke has the power to change opinion not just by the way it communicates, but a different business approach.

"I think they have the opportunity to be true to their values and do more in terms of giving back. It may create a negative reaction, but so what, it's about doing the right thing. Coca-Cola should be the most entertaining, anticipated brand in the world, and they should also be loved in the same way someone like Princess Diana was loved by committing to causes and making the difference. They have the power to do amazing things on planet earth," Benmiloud said.

A great example of this is Coke's project in partnership with other charities to lend its vast distribution and logistics network to help deliver essential medicines to remote African villages. "You need to give to get love, and we need to see more giving of love," Benmiloud added, saying Coke has the ability to fund more such initiatives.


Coca-Cola/Business Insider

One of the things that has characterized Muhtar Kent's reign at the top of Coca-Cola is his long-term outlook for the company. In 2010 he outlined the company's "2020 Vision," built around six socio-economic trends that it hopes will help it double revenue by 2020. Other strategies are also given long-term completion dates, like its ambition to get 1 million people more physically active in Great Britain by 2020.

Benmiloud comments: "One thing about Coke that really impresses me is how long in the game they are, they really think long-term. They may be having a difficult time right now, but it has a plan for five, 15, 20 years on how to grow as a company ... I think Coke's at a certain point in its history and we'll see what it does in the next five years, and what it does to embrace people and its partners to get there."

Diversification will also be key if Coke is to adapt to ever-changing consumer consumption trends, and the company is already making in-roads in that area. Earlier this year it launched a premium milk called Fairlife in the U.S., for example, and last year Coca-Cola paid $2.15 billion for a 16.7 percent stake in Monster Energy to help expand its reach in the energy drinks market. And in 2013 Coke increased its stake in Innocent Drinks to almost 100 percent in a bid to grow its share of the European smoothie and juices market.

But Coke still has work to do, according to Ritson: "PepsiCo is in a much stronger position versus Coca-Cola because it derives less than half its global profits from soda beverages, compared to 75 percent of revenues at Coca-Cola. That screams out an obvious and urgent fix. Coca-Cola needs to maintain Coke sales as much as possible and manage the decline as well as they can while urgently looking to diversify and acquire new brands that are fit for the 21st century."

The Coke era as we know it is probably over. But a new, more diverse era for Coke is just beginning.