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The Virgin Cola Wars

Other Beverage

Virgin Cola is an obscure soda that can supposedly be found in select UK stores and on Virgin Flights and Trains, but once upon a time it strove to take on Coca-Cola and Pepsi in a cola fueled war.


Virgin Cola Tank

Virgin Chairman Sir Richard Branson drove a tank into Times Square and crushed a bunch of Coke and Pepsi. What a badass, rolling into NYC in a British Tank to make a statement on his enemy’s turf.

Unfortunately, the marketing victory would be the only victory for Virgin Cola on US soil, because then Coke pretty much shot Virgin Cola in the face with a missile launcher, and Virgin was obliterated. The soda did have some success in Europe, but for the most part Sir Richard Branson has since turned his focus to other projects that make him one of the most prolific entrepreneurs of all time, and a personal hero of mine.

From his book, “Business Stripped Bare”:
Starting a soft-drinks war with Coca-cola was crazy. It was one of our highest profile business mistakes, though it was also one of the things that raised the profile of the Virgin name in America. Launching Virgin Cola in 1994, we were having fun and reveling in underdog bravado, so pleased to be snapping at the heels of the biggist dog in town. Taking on Coke taught us two things: how to make a great cola with a different taste; and how to antagonize a global business that brought in $28 billion in 2007, with profits of $5 billion…Yes, we somehow contrived to blind ourselves completely to the power and the influence of a global brand that epitomizes the strength and reach of American capitalism.


  1. Julie | Saturday, April 25, 2009

    Never heard of Virgin Cola, but I do know that no one can beat Diet Coke on any soda level.

  2. Alan Kropf | Sunday, April 26, 2009

    I think that’s the point he was driving towards in his book…

  3. Wine Zinner | Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Now I wish I could have tried Virgin Soda. I wonder if it would still be any good after all these years if I ran across some.

  4. Wine Zinner | Sunday, April 26, 2009

    or I could just order some from across the pond.

  5. Alan Kropf | Sunday, April 26, 2009

    To the best of my knowledge they still make it in limited quantities in specific markets.

  6. Alan Kropf | Sunday, April 26, 2009

    To the best of my knowledge they still make it in limited quantities in specific markets. Branson mentions that it is the #1 selling cola in some obscure country somewhere in the world, probably one of those countries Bush got for that Coalition to head into Iraq…

  7. Alan Kropf | Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Whoops, apparently that was a double

  8. Jeff | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Branson is the man. His new book is great btw!

  9. TJ McNasty | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Read about half of the book, it’s pretty good. For a man who is clearly insane, he has really got his stuff together.

  10. Guinness Is Sending People To Black Places for “Remarkable Experiences” | Mutineer Magazine | Friday, July 24, 2009

    […] is awesome. Three prizes: a trip to space with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic (remember the cola wars?), a ride in a deep sea submarine with a luxury bar, and an exclusive concert/meet and greet with […]

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