How simple tactics led their business to glory; story of Dow Chemicals, Coca Cola and Oakley


For every business, there comes a time when you need to take hard decisions to survive, and scale. At times, simple strategies may make you the biggest profit, yet cost you next to nothing when compared to ‘growth-hacking consultants’, who charge by the hour.

YourStory brings you three unique stories on how seemingly simple tactics helped a business reach great heights.

The Dow chemical take on German Cartel

In the early 20th century, Dow invented a method to extract bromine from brines (a water body that has greater salinity than the surrounding ocean) near Michigan area, and sold it to other firms in the US. However, outside the US, the bromine monopoly was controlled by the mighty German cartel Die Deutsche Bromkonvention, which was formed by a combination of over 30 German firms. They sold Bromine for 49 cents a pound around the globe, while Dow sold it for 36 cents a pound in the US. In the year 1904, Dow decided to break the monopoly and began selling in England. This went on for some time before they had a visitor from Germany, a Hermann Jacobsohn from the cartel.

Jacobsohn was furious. He said he had positive evidence that Dow had exported bromine.

"What of it?" Dow answered.

Jacobsohn asked, "Don’t you know that you can’t sell abroad?"

Dow said,"I know nothing of the kind".

Jacobsohn was indignant and left in a huff.

To teach Dow a lesson, the German cartel entered the US markets to sell bromine at the cost of 15 cents a pound. To counter their move, what Dow did next would become a lesson for all in price wars. Dow had one of their agents buy all the bromine at low price from German cartel, then sold it back in the European market for 27 cents a pound. While the German cartel was confused as to how the demand was so high in the US and Dow still in business, the price continued to drop to 12 cents a pound, then to 10.5 cents a pound. Dow, taking advantage of this situation,kept buying their bromine at lower rates and selling it back to them in Europe. Significant damage was done before the Germans could realize what was happening. Their monopoly was finally broken, and Dow managed to get a strong hold in European markets.

Coca Cola bottles and the contour


Coca Cola and the Contour bottles

According to the book, The Coke Story, when Coca Cola first started, it was sold in fountain beverages for five cents a glass. One of the vendors of Fountain Machine, Joseph A.Biedenharn, came up the with the idea of bottling Coca-Cola to encourage buyers to take them home. Looking at its success, he also suggested they send a bottle to Asa Griggs Candler, the founder and owner of Coca-Cola. Initially, the idea was ignored, but the company relented.

Soon copycat brands popped up with no way to distinguish between the bottles; there was a huge chance that people would get confused. To tackle this, Coca Cola approached glass manufacturers to come up with a unique design for the bottle. The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana came with the contour shape, which has since been used for the bottle. Coca-Cola started shipping with the new bottle in 1916. Though, the new bottle took some time to catch on, it surpassed the fountain sales in 1928 and in 1950, becoming the first commercial product to appear on the cover of Time magazine. Today, it is one the most recognized brands in the world all because of the change in shape of its bottle.


Luis Urzúa(wearing Oakley Sunglasses), the spokesman of the trapped miners and the last of the 33 to be lifted to ground level, celebrates with President Piñera at San José Mine.

Chilean mining accident and Oakley Sunglasses

On 5th August 2010, when the 121-year-old San José copper–gold mine caved in trapping 33 workers 700 meters underground, the world came to help. After several days of effort, on seeing signs of life underground, a taped message on one of the drills, when translated to English, said, "We are well in the shelter, the 33". As rescue efforts progressed from different agencies around the world, the event began receiving live coverage. Millions of people watched the rescue efforts around the globe. However, Oakley Sunglasses came up with a brilliant idea to make the best of the situation. They donated sunglasses to trapped miners, so they wouldn’t be affected by the sudden burst of sunlight and UV rays, which they’d been unexposed to for over 60 days.

So, how did it help Oakley? As the miners came out wearing Oakley sunglasses, and a worldwide media covering them with an audience in the millions,their brand garnered a whopping $41 million worth of advertising time according a report by CNBC. All with just a pair of sunglasses.


Updates from around the world