Amazon was only an online bookstore when The Coca-Cola company first launched Surge, but that didn’t stop the beverage giant from exclusively picking the online retailer as the place for it to make a comeback.
The cola, which is comparable to Pepsi’s Mountain Dew, went on sale this morning on Amazon.com, to the surprise of its strong cult following. The 12-packs of 16 oz cans cost $14 each (free shipping with Amazon Prime), and sold out in about an hour. Later, Surge could be found on eBay, where it was selling for much more.
By this afternoon, Surge had 269 five-star reviews and skyrocketed to become the bestselling item on Amazon’s Grocery and Gourmet food list. One customer said: “Hurry up and restock and take my money already!!!! This is the best soda on earth!,” and another wrote: “I just spent 45 dollars on soda and i’m not even mad.”
Today’s launch is the first time that Coke has brought back a discontinued product, and it’s the first time Coke has distributed a product solely through an e-commerce channel. Surge is only being promoted with the help of social media campaigns, which is fitting since fans have been using Facebook to lobby Coke to return the product for some time.
“The SURGE Movement,” has more than 128,000 fans on Facebook and the effort raised nearly $4,000 in 2013 to buy a billboard a half-mile from Coke’s Atlanta headquarters. The copy read: “Dear Coke, we couldn’t buy SURGE, so we bought this billboard instead” and directed people to visit the movement’s Facebook page.
In a blog post, Coke explained that by teaming up with the online retailer it can closely monitor sales and inventory without taxing its distribution network.
“If expectations are met, this may be only the first of a variety of efforts we explore to launch niche products through e-commerce relationships,” said Wendy Clark, president of sparkling and strategic marketing at Coca-Cola North America. “This will be a great learning experience for us and a refreshing opportunity for fans.”
Surge was taken off the market in the early 2000s, after launching in 1996, a year after Amazon.com launched its website. Amazon sells other Coke products, including smartwater, vitamin water and mini cans of Fanta.
In case you are nostalgic, here’s the original Surge commercial, which was released in 1997: