The other side of Coke

I know I keep linking to it but hey, I think The Nub is a pretty good site. Lots of information and a good dollop of well-expressed attitude.

Tim Carter there points to an exhibition here in London,

that’s designed to help make “(Coke’s) run of bad luck continue and showing the brand for what it really is”. The “what it really is” refers to Coke’s links with Nazi Germany.

Whilst the “bad luck” they refer to is far from convincing, nevertheless, I would like to thank the organisers for furthering my education. Until today I didn’t know Coke sponsored the 1936 Olympics and I didn’t know that Fanta was born in Nazi Germany.

Tim is sceptical and takes the opportunity to put the positive side of the Coke story.

In fact I am inspired to consider an exhibition of my own. One that shows just how many lives have been improved by Coke’s existence. I’d like to show all the thousands of parents around the world that have raised kids on salaries from Coke and improved the quality of their lives.

Well that would be fun wouldn’t it? Two competing galleries giving two alternative Coke realities. Personally, Tim, I think we can leave Coke to do their own spin with their vast marketing budget, especially now they’re not wasting millions trying to flog us our own tapwater.

I like a bit of controversy but I don’t really buy Tim’s “but look at the jobs they created” argument. Partly I think it’s a description of work that is inherently company-centric. A person agrees to work for a company and together they create some value. Why do we say that the company “created” the job? Didn’t the worker create it too? I distrust the notion that the worker would not have been able to create value in some other way but for the company coming along. Quite honestly, if Coke didn’t exist, I think the human race would manage to get by, somehow-or-other. And it might conceivably do so with a bit less of a caffeine addiction.

Is the exhibition unfair? Possibly, I haven’t seen it. But let’s face it, it’s not as though Coke has been a model of shyness and reserve for the last 100 years. They’ve not exactly struggled to present themselves as a modest organisation that shuns the limelight. So I don’t feel enormous pangs of compassion if their multi-billion advertising is countered by a little sharp satire. And that, by the way, is an understatement of my view.

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