Written by Chuck Barber

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Saturday, 8 May 2004

image for Open Letter to Coca-Cola Things Go Better with Coke -- And A Foot Disease?

Dear Coca-Cola:

I recently bought a 2 liter bottle of coke. I noticed that the bottle cap was offering some sort of give-away or prize. When I turned the cap over I saw that I was being offered 10% off athletes’ foot. At first I felt slightly insulted. Why do you think that I, the purchaser of a 2 liter bottle of Coke, am even likely to have this irritating foot disease?
Do you have studies which show that 2 liter purchasers are more likely to be active and not change their socks? I doubt it, but frankly, if you do have such studies I’d keep quiet about it. No one wants to shop next to sweaty, itching, flaking and burning footed persons.

Also, in this day and age when those with disabilities are becoming ever more empowered you are not only slighting those in wheelchairs, you are ignoring them completely! How can a person who cannot use her or his feet develop a disease of active athletes? What about those with no feet at all??? 10% off athletes’ ankle? It wouldn’t surprise me coming from Pepsi, but I expect more from Coca-Cola.

In times such as these, when stock prices drop, and dividends fall, when earnings and expenses move ever closer, I would think you would be more careful with your free offers and giveaways. Everyone in the United States is well aware of the recent troubles at Coca-Cola (Europe and Dasani for one) and we all are pulling for you. No business represents America in the world’s mind better than Coca-Cola. There are even movies of this – One, Two, Three and The Coca-Cola Kid to name but two. However, I am afraid that associating the Coke brand with this disease, in fact, with any disease, is ultimately a losing proposition. Coke is a happy product, a drink for good times, weddings, retirements, graduations, celebrations. Coca-Cola is not the drink of disease, even a disease of active persons.

Please re-think this promotion. I know millions of bottle caps are out there already, but if you issue no more then perhaps the Coke brand will recover and take off as in the old days. Good luck with this, but for the moment I’ll have to decline your offer. Luckily, my feet are fine.


Chuck Barber

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