Momentum Gathers Against Coke: Tell Them To Reveal the Source of Dasani Water
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Wednesday seemed to be just another day at the Coca-Cola Facebook fan page. Comments were trickling in on a photo collection of a Panamanian Coke fan's astonishingly large collection of aluminum cans. Jacob Vanblake and Mafiul Ankur had openly professed their love for Coke. Will Maitner had refused to drink Coke with corn syrup, opting instead for Mexican Coke made with cane sugar.
But at 3:30, the calm abruptly lifted. Comments deluged the site at a rate of about one every 20 seconds, calling on Coke to put the source of its bottled water on Dasani brand labels. Coke had heard this before - they'd been receiving phone calls, letters, and emails for years from a concerned public - but now these grievances were front and center for the water bottler's 3.5 million online fans; a serious concern given Coke's interest in using "new media" and "web 2.0" to maintain and cultivate the loyalty of an essential customer demographic - youth.
The corporation went into crisis management mode. Just as it had made sure people didn't know the source of Dasani from reading its label, Coke was now intent on making sure fans didn't know there were grievances with this lack of disclosure; very post-modern. At 5:20 fans were prevented from writing on Coke's Facebook wall and the corporation promptly deleted all comments posted from 4:39 pm on.
That's when Coke must have thought better about its move to stifle discontent. At 5:41pm people were again free to comment. At 7:03 pm the corporation mustered a reply, "[h]ere are the facts, straight from the source (no pun intended)." The post continued, "most of the water comes form public water sources. That's clearly stated on our Web site."
This seemed to miss the point that most people weren't looking at a Web site when they purchased bottled water. But before Corporate Accountability International members, and others who had joined the Facebook discussion could respond, a disarming "Random Coke Fact" broke the tension. The factoid (with space-can graphic to boot) offered, "Coca-Cola was the first soft drink in space!"
But the revelation would not calm the chatter. So Coke pulled out another stop - Coke made sure that such fun facts displaced the flood of comments by setting the administrator's wall to be the landing page. What Coke will try next now has many of its fans and visitors wondering.
For three years, Corporate Accountability International has asked that Coke label the source of its water. Tens of thousands of people have made phone calls, written letters, or sent emails to the country's third largest bottler demanding Coke label the source of its water. Coke's competitors, Pepsi and Nestlé, have both responded to Corporate Accountability International demands by putting the source on labels. Even Congress has now called on Coke to disclose the source and sites of its bottled water.
The deadline for Coke and the other water bottlers to report to Congress is this Monday, August 10. Will Coke also announce its intention to put this information on labels? If so, that'd be the smartest tactic it could employ in response to the new Facebook outpouring.
Take 1 minute to comment on Coke's wall and demand that Coke reveal the sources of Dasani bottled water.