Ovation: Kudos To Coca Cola For Trying To Raise Awareness And For Quickly Adjusting When The Plan Went South.
I love Diet Coke! There’s nothing better than an Ice Cold glass with crushed ice (the best is from Sonic Drive Ins!) and, maybe, a shot of Captain Morgan’s Silver Spiced Rum. But I digress.
Coca-Cola is one of the American marketplaces mainstays. The company has enjoyed generations of success with only a few foibles along the way (remember the “New Coke” disaster?) Coca-Cola taught the world how to sing in perfect harmony and their uniquely shaped bottles and bright red cans are recognizable symbols the world over.
Companies as successful as Coca-Cola rarely abandon an icon that successfully promotes their brand, but as of November 1st, Coca-Cola replaced their signature red cans of Coke Classic with white cans in a joint effort with World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness and cash in the ongoing effort to protect polar bears’ habitat. As a part of the campaign, the company pledged $2 million to help fund the creation of a safe refuge for polar bears and agreed to match up to $1 million of customer donations. Marketers chose the white can as an attention-grabbing method of getting the conservation message across to consumers. “We’re turning our cans white because turning our backs wasn’t an option,” they said.
Good for Coca Cola! Polar bears are awesome. Conservation ROCKS!
But there was a problem. The white cans are so similar to the silver Diet Coke cans that customers were confused and angry. In the month since the campaign began, retailers across the country have endured customer complaints from Diet Coke drinkers who inadvertently purchase Classic Coke from their shelves and coolers. Some customers returned opened white cans and demanded Diet Coke in its place. Others went online and took to Twitter to complain that Coke Classic tastes different in white cans than it did in the red cans. For a Diet Coke drinker, getting a mouthful of sugary-sweet Classic Coke is an unwelcome surprise! For diabetics and those watching sugar intakes, the switch might even cause health problems!!
The white can campaign may have looked brilliant on paper, but it was pretty much a failure. But Coca-Cola got the message and, while it planned to have more than a billion white cans available through March, they decided to halt further production of the white cans. Going forward, hoping to salvage as much of the marketing campaign as possible, red cans featuring white bears will be used.
Good for Coca-Cola! Changing what wasn’t working was good business. (“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind.)
The cooler in my office currently contains all three cans. Maybe we should hoard the white cans as an investment! Coca-Cola collectors might pay a handsome price for these mistakes years down the road!