Georgia is the birthplace to a number of iconic and nationally revered figures, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Jimmy Carter, Jackie Robinson and Ryan Seacrest. In addition to these cultural shapers, the Peach State has also been the native home to several brands that have earned their place in our national consciousness. In fact, the state was ranked the sixth most valuable state by brand value in 2014, according to the Brand Finance U.S. 500. Here is a look at some of the nationally recognizable companies that have called Georgia home since Day One.
Before the iconic 1971 “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial ended the tale of Don Draper during the Mad Men series finale, Coca-Cola was buying its first ad from The Atlanta Journal on May 29, 1866. The global marketing juggernaut was launched at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta and initially sold as a multi-purpose medicine. Now one of the most valuable brands in the world, Coke’s marketing team has given the world its iconic Santa Clause campaign, personalized invitations to “Share a Coke” with loved ones, and of course, adorable polar bears who taught us to “Open Happiness.”
While massive home-improvement superstores are an international norm these days, The Home Depot launched the phenomenon in 1978 with its first two stores in metro Atlanta. Among the nation’s largest brands, The Home Depot’s marketing efforts have been especially active in the sports arena, including its status as the official “Home Improvement Sponsor” of ESPN’s College Gameday. Following his retirement from the company, co-founder Arthur Blank took his investment in sports to the next level by purchasing the Atlanta Falcons in 2002 and founding the city’s Major League Soccer franchise, Atlanta United FC, which will begin play in 2017.
Delta Air Lines
In 2014, more than 90 million passengers were reminded to “Fly Delta Jets” by the iconic sign atop Delta’s original hangar at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Once believed to be the nation’s largest outdoor lighted sign, the message reaches a huge audience with its prime location at the world’s busiest airport. Before it was a leading commercial airline, however, Delta was known as Huff Daland Dusters – an aerial crop dusting operation founded in 1924 and based in Macon, Ga.
That’s right. We all have Georgia to thank for “smothered and covered” hashbrowns and top-notch raisin toast. The 24-hour breakfast chain was launched in 1955 with its first location just outside of Atlanta in Avondale Estates, Ga. While the restaurant chain has locations across 25 states, it is a deeply beloved Southern tradition. In 2013, the Atlanta Braves went on the “Waffle House winning streak” when they won 14 straight games after a Waffle House was opened inside Turner Field. More recently, former University of Georgia golfer Bubba Watson celebrated his 2014 Masters win by leaving a $148 tip at a Waffle House in Augusta.
Longhorn grilled up its first steak in 1981 on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, and now serves customers across 35 states. The Western/Texan-themed restaurant has a number of recognizable brand elements, but perhaps none greater than the star of the brand’s coming-of-age campaign: the “Big-Haired Lady” from Longhorn’s commercials in the 1990s.
More Notable Georgia-born Brands
Georgia is the original home to more significant national brands than we can quickly outline here, but below is a list of other iconic brands that sprung from the Peach State:
Cabbage Patch Kids
Turner Broadcasting System
Mikey Mooney is a senior account executive at Poston Communications, a public relations agency focused on professional services companies, including law, accounting, financial services, healthcare, consulting, technology and more. He works with firm leadership to develop and execute strategic communication efforts with an eye on achieving key business objectives. He serves on the PRSA Georgia Annual Conference Committee, as well as the PR/marketing committee for the 2015 PRSA International Conference. Follow him on Twitter @classicm00n.