Robert Woodruff was a man of endless curiosity about the future. "It's easy to see down into the valley and up the slope," he once remarked, "but it's tough as hell to see over the next hill." For the more than 60 years that he was associated with The Cocal-Cola Company, he never stopped looking over the next hill, and his company's eminence is, in a large measure, a tribute to his success in seeing what was there. Throughout all the years of his tenure as its chief executive and beyond, Woodruff never lost touch with his vision for The Coca-Cola Company's advertising process.
This involvement was indicative of his passionate concern about the company and its product, especially the way the merits of Coca-Cola would be presented to what has remained the largest audience addressed by any single product in the history of advertising. He insisted that advertising for Coca-Cola reflect the integrity of the product, and he demanded the highest standards of quality, whether in artwork, talent, music or media selection.
Woodruff was one of this country's noted philanthropists and yet, remarkably, most of his gifts were made anonymously. "I don't need the recognition," he said. "Everyone who needs to know who did it, will." In 1950 he turned down Time magazine's request to appear on its cover, insisting that "the story's about the Company, not me." Coca-Cola thus became the first product ever to appear on the cover of Time.
Robert Woodruff was a pioneer in visualizing the potential of global branding. That vision became the force of his conviction, his belief in the universal appeal of Coca-Cola. So, more than 40 years before the concept itself became fashionable, he took the first steps to put Coca-Cola "within arm's reach of desire," not just in this country, but in more than 155 countries around the world, making it the most recognized trademark.