Tim Longhurst's Blog

What’s wrong with Coke, anyway?

January 31st, 2006 · 2 Comments

Since starting the zero coke movement, I have watched discussions take shape on community bulletin boards around the world. People are asking all sorts of questions, but the recurring theme is, “What’s wrong with Coke? What have they done wrong?”

Setting up the zero coke movement has provided a forum to consider Coke’s business practices. Regarding their business practices, the FAQ page of the zero coke movement site links to information on concerns about Coke’s activities in India and Colombia, which are currently two hotspots. Coke has attempted to defend themselves at their own website, cokefacts.org. It’s amazing to read Coke attempt to defend themselves against some strong allegations.

It has also opened the opportunity to consider Coke’s role in our global community: to consider whether Coke’s use of a significant collection of our world’s resources is in the best interests of our society.

What’s Really Important

In the grand scheme of ‘What’s Really Important’, I believe that everyone deserves food and water… Globally, we have the resources to achieve this, but for whatever reason, it’s not happening.

Instead, in a perverse irony, we have some people who genuinly don’t have enough (many, but not all are in developing countries) and then we have marketing people. These people’s job is to make us rich people feel like we don’t have enough. That is, that our lives would be more complete if we had things a little better… a better car, a better soda…

In a world with plenty of genuine need, Coke’s marketers are busy attempting to “create needs” where they might not have otherwise existed.

Whilst in pure market economic terms, all needs are equal, most of us recognise that in the real world there exists a ‘heirarchy of needs’… A poor person’s desire for a drink of clean water at an affordable price is in most people’s minds more important than another person’s desire to have a pre-packaged, sweetened drink that is chilled and comes with a theme song.

But here’s the thing: a well designed, targeted, big budget campaign to deliver clean water to the remaining 20% of the world doesn’t exist. In the meantime, Coke are reportedly spending $18million to convince 20-30 year old image-obsessed males to drink fizzy, sweetened water.

While most of us would gladly give up soda right now if it meant some disadvantaged person had clean water, our world seems to complex and disconnected for that to seem possible.

If Coke were to shut down, would the world be a better place? We’d certainly save a lot of electricity with all those vending machines gone. There’d be less pollution with all those delivery trucks off the roads, plastics and aluminium complexes would pump less toxins into the air as demand for packaging takes a hit. People’s self esteem might start to improve as Coke’s advertising campaign impossipeople start to fade from our memories.

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Category: Tim's Projects

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