Montclair State University students waited in line as their taste buds screamed with excitement to try out the new Diet Coke flavors. Montclair State Coca-Cola Campus Ambassador Nicole Fidalgo held a blind tasting event in the lobby of the Student Center. Students had to put a blindfold on to taste and guess five of the new Diet Coke flavors.
Two of the flavors – strawberry guava and blueberry acai – were recently announced in January while the other three – ginger lime, twisted mango and feisty cherry – were announced back in January 2018. At first, many students were hesitant to try out the flavors since a lot of them don’t drink diet soda. However, their minds were changed as soon as their taste buds had the first sip.
Michelle Ramires, a senior majoring in marketing, assisted Fidalgo with the event and shared that she was surprised by how much she enjoyed Coca-Cola’s new flavors considering they are all diet options.
“I was never really a Coca-Cola lover until I tried out the new flavors,” Ramires said. “They are all so refreshing, and you can’t even tell that it is diet soda.”
The Coca-Cola team spoke to over 10,000 people from all over the world for new flavor ideas. From the feedback they got back from their fans, Coca-Cola and their research and development team made and tested over 30 new flavors. However, they only launched the ones that received the most positive response from their consumers.
Amy Sheridan, a freshman majoring in nutrition and food science, was impressed by the branding of Coca-Cola’s new flavors as well as their taste.
“The twisted mango and the feisty cherry were my favorite ones,” Sheridan said. “The flavors were so smooth, and I really like the cool, unique and original names they gave their new flavors.”
After 35 years, Coca-Cola redesigned their packaging to a sleek new look in 2018 to appeal to their new thirsty audience and for their old fans. It’s still the same bold flavor they love just with an updated modern look.
Junior psychology major Daniel Brea felt that the new packaging made the flavors stand out.
“I definitely like the cans a lot better,” Brea said. “The different colors makes them pop out more and I’m sure that if those were seen on shelves customers would want to grab them right away. I know I would.”
This very successful event couldn’t have been possible without Fidalgo, a senior majoring in marketing who landed an internship during the summer of 2018 to be a campus ambassador for Coca-Cola. Fidalgo got the job thanks to one of her marketing professors at Montclair State, who would give her internships to apply to every week. Eventually, she was interviewed and got this internship.
Coca-Cola flew her out, all expenses paid, to the Coca-Cola headquarters located in Atlanta. There she trained for a week, got to meet other campus ambassadors from different universities and top leaders from the company, including the president of Coca-Cola of North America.
Her internship consists of partnering with Montclair State Dining Service Marketing Manager Lindsey Anderson to set up different sampling events throughout the semester to promote Coca-Cola and receive students’ feedback and their insights on the products.
Fidalgo has held many different events on campus. She had a Fanta event in October 2018 where students got to try out Fanta’s newest flavor, green apple, and watch the popular spooky movie “Hocus Pocus.” She also did a Christmas event where students had the chance to win prizes and take pictures with Santa Claus. In 2019, she kicked off the year with the Diet Coke blind tasting event to introduce the new flavors to the campus.
“I’ve been so lucky to be given this opportunity to work with such an amazing company,” Fidalgo said. “I really look forward to keep on sharing my experience with [Montclair State] and hoping students and faculty get excited for future events that are being planned.”
Fidalgo hopes to be a creative director and continue working with social media or online marketing one day. She sees herself as a team leader in a management position or, hopefully, as her own boss.