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FDL Book Salon Welcomes Mark Pendergrast, For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It

Welcome Mark Pendedrgrast (MarkPendergrast.com) (Twitter), and Host Kevin Grandia (HuffingtonPost) (SpakeMediaHouse) (Twitter)

For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It

Everywhere you go there is Coca-Cola.

On one hand, there’s comfort in seeing something familiar along the backroads of Thailand, but on the other it can piss you off to see the massive white and red logo and realize just how far Coca-Cola has infiltrated global society.

As traditional marketing and advertising concepts are buried by the demands of a Facebook culture that seeks a personal relationship with the brands they consume, Mark Pendergrast’s book, For God, Country and Coca Cola is more relevant today than it was when it was first published in 1993.

After more than 100 years of pioneering the concept of mass marketing and advertising, even a brand as big as Coca-Cola is having to change the way it sells itself to the world. And one thing that is clear in Pendergrast’s book is that we are not drinking a sugary water, but a brand and an idea of what the good life should be.

Love it or hate it, Coca-Cola is a big part of American modern history. And it is a very interesting history at that. Starting with the snake-oil salesman and medicinal shysters in the late 1800’s that pioneered mass advertising, to the New Coke “catastrophe” of the mid-80’s, and on to the global expansion of the brown sugar water that you can buy in Shanghai as easily as you can in Manhattan.

Pendergrast doesn’t jam a message or lesson down your throat in his book, which is hard to do when dealing with a brand that elicits a lot of emotion, good or bad, in people. Given how ingrained Coca-Cola is in our history and our psyche, I guess it would be a bit of a fool’s game for Pendergrast to even try to shape our opinions.

When I asked Pendergrast to describe to me what the main message of For God, Country and Coca Cola was, he told me:

The Coke history offered me a way to look at many issues that impact our lives — not just mass marketing and advertising, but issues of public health, the environment, world culture and globalization, management and business development (corporate culture), social responsibility, impact of boycotts, psychology, hoaxes, the civil rights movement and race relations, psychoactive drugs, epidemiology, economics, and just plain good old stories — terrific narrative storytelling opportunities, with great characters, and a way to look at American history from its modern inception in the 1880s.

It’s the U.S., and to an extent, the world seen through Coke bottle glasses.

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Kevin Grandia

Kevin Grandia

As the DeSmogBlog's Operations Manager, Kevin oversees the six-person team of contributors, orchestrates large-scale research campaigns, and manages the blog’s timely and thought-provoking content. Kevin is also responsible for the successful Canadian and U.S. media and blogger relations campaigns that have garnered the DeSmogBlog coverage in major media outlets.

Kevin is also a regular contributor on Huffington Post and other media outlets such as the Guardian Online.

Kevin has nine years of experience in communications with the last three spent entirely in the area of new media. Kevin is also the Director of New Media at the Vancouver Public Relations company, Hoggan & Associates and is well-known for his expertise in the areas of social media marketing, online communications, blogging, search engine optimization.

Kevin is the co-founder of a national online project called Vote For Environment (www.voteforenvironment.ca) that has been nominated for a World Summit Award, an international award in recognizing the world's best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin served as a communications advisor in the areas of health care, Canadian heritage and Asia-Pacific trade. Kevin’s areas of expertise also include government relations, crisis communications, event planning and media relations.

Kevin Grandia has been trained by Al Gore as part of The Climate Project, an initiative designed to educate the public about climate change.