Neville Isdell, former chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, revealed a remarkable little anecdote in his book “Inside Coca-Cola” that shows just how much Coca-Cola values its relationship with the world’s most powerful fast food chain.
It was Isdell’s very first day at the helm of Coke in the summer of 2004, and he wasn’t even in the office. Something immensely important was happening.
Isdell was 700 miles away at the Chicago headquarters of McDonald’s speaking with then-CEO Charlie Bell. There was a conflict that needed to be resolved.
Coke president Steve Heyer had offended Bell by bragging about a new contract with Subway, and Isdell had found out that McDonald’s had opened talks with Pepsi.
“If a single McDonald’s had dispensed a Pepsi product, that likely would have damaged my newly resurrected career,” writes Isdell. “It would have been an unprecedented failure.”
So, how did Isdell douse the fire?
He looked Bell in the eye and said, “I will fix the problem.”
Isdell had met with Bell on June 1st. By the end of August, after much internal drama, Heyer no longer worked for Coke.
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