One more reason ProPublica rocks

From their blog, Officials Say The Darndest Things:

“No consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.A judge, summarizing the defense offered by Coca-Cola’s lawyers as to why the company’s marketing for vitaminwater isn’t deceptive.


Coke told to run ads admitting it can cause obesity and damage teeth

mythbusters_busted_sprayUp the Aussies for ordering Coca-Cola to run ads correcting earlier misleading ads. The original ads ran in October under the title “Motherhood & Myth-Busting” and referred to myths about Coca-Cola such as claims the soda makes consumers fat, rots teeth and are high in caffeine.

Here’s some great dueling quotes:

“Coke’s messages were totally unacceptable, creating an impression which is likely to mislead that Coca-Cola cannot contribute to weight gain, obesity and tooth decay,” ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel said in the statement. “They also had the potential to mislead parents about the potential consequences of consuming Coca Cola.”


“We certainly did not intend our message to be misleading,” Coca-Cola South Pacific Managing Director Gareth Edgecombe said in an e-mailed statement. “The ACCC were concerned we oversimplified some complex topics and we acknowledge we should have provided more information.”

Dear Coke, leave the myth busting up to the experts.


Coke thinks Christ’s endorsement will give it a bad image

In the Italian film “7 km from Jerusalem” an advertising executive who has lost his job and marriage flies to Jerusalem and he runs into Jesus. According to local press reports, he offers the returned Christ a can of Coca-Cola and, seeing Jesus drinking the beverage, thinks: “What a testimonial!”

Not everyone agreed.

According to a statement on the film’s website Coke “sent a legal letter forcing the elimination of the scene in which Jesus drinks the well-known beverage.”

Somethings transubstantiation can’t improve.

Consumerists’ 10 Worst Marketing Mistakes (sort of)

As insomniacs and other long-time readers now, I am a big fan of The site does a great job of reporting on consumers’ (mostly but not always) unhappy experiences with companies. If you’re a marketer it’s a must read so at the very least you learn what not to do. All that said, I was dissappointed to read their list of the Top 10 Worst Marketing Gaffes, Blunders & Disasters:

  1. Hindenberg
  2. Edison electrocutes an elephant
  3. Ford Edsel
  4. Tylenol Cyanide Scare
  5. Beatles Yesterday & Today album art
  6. Microsoft Blue Screen of Death press conference
  7. Calvin Klein amateur porno-style ads
  8. Honda robot falls down stairs
  9. New Coke
  10. McDonald’s I’d Hit It

I can come up with a bunch just in the last couple of years that are worse than anything on this list.

  • The Tylenol thing was a PR disaster at first but once it became clear that the poison was the result of an outsider the public pretty much forgot about it, witness the brand’s success since then. The on-going Bausch & Lomb eye wash nightmare is far worse. Last year it was linked to an infection that caused blindness and another batch just cropped up today. This happened because of something in the manufacturing process and the PR response was a nightmare. This could actually destroy the brand.
  • The Microsoft and Honda things were embarassing but no way are they in the 10 worst. I’d put Judy Regan’s OJ book fiasco way ahead of those two if for no other reason than it was a deliberate and planned effort, not just a mishap with the demo of a product.
  • McDonald’s I’d Hit It? Yeah, everyone got a laugh over the misuse of slang for intercourse, but it’s hard to see that as a huge disaster. How about the Vioxx or Ambien stories? Ambien got bushwhacked with a PR problem when Patrick Kennedy blamed it for his renewed drug problem, which wound up being a big plus for rival drugs which could say they were non-addictive. Merck currently faces 27K lawsuits over Vioxx and even if they win every one the brand has suffered permanent damage.
  • Yesterday and Today wasn’t even The Beatles worst PR disaster, let alone one of the top 10 of all time. The band’s worst was John’s comment about being more popular than Jesus.
  • How about BP having its claim of being environmentally friendly blow up in its face when their Alaska pipeline started leaking like the Celtic’s defense?
  • Or how about Enron or even JetBlue’s recent problems or GM/Ford/Chrysler continuing to push SUVs as gas hit $3 a gallon? Or NBC blowing rigging a Ford pickup truck to blow up? Or the great Ford Pinto fiasco?
  • Or KFC and it’s rodent problem?

Kudos to Consumerist for getting historical with Edison and the Hindenberg, but they need to get up to date with their current marketing disasters. You guys are still one of the channels-of-choice for tracking business stupidity, let’s get this list right. Keep the top 3 and the always-wonderful new Coke disaster and replace the rest with some real disasters.

Scary news is brewing: Companies set to market brewskies based on beer, milk

Add this to the ever expanding list of reasons I’m glad I don’t drink anymore:

  1. A brewery in Hokkaido, Japan, has started selling a low-malt beer made with milk. The product, with the wonderfully perfect name of Bilk, is made by the Abashiri Brewery which also makes the equally appetizing Purple Ale pictured at right. Bilk “reportedly has a fruity flavor that its brewers hope will be popular among women.The idea for the drink was conceived after dairy firms threw out a huge amount of surplus milk in March last year.” I’m not getting drunk, I’m fighting off osteoporosis. Suddenly the Mongolian national booze Ayrag — fermented mare’s milk — sounds … every bit as gross as it did before. (Anyone ever explore the connection between Mongolian cuisine — care for some mutton boiled in tea  — and their desire to conquer the world? Maybe they were just looking for a decent nosh.)
  2. Coca-Cola is looking to produce kvass in Russia, a traditional beverage made from fermented bread that is also sweet and fizzy. NB: Coke is just playing ketchup, er catch up, here: PepsiCo, has catered to Russian tastes via white-mushroom-and- sour-cream-flavored potato chips and sukhariki, a traditional snack food made from dried brown bread.

Bilk is sounding better by the minute.

“Christmas and Hanukah Are Coming Out of the Holiday Closet – A Look at the Trend, Implications”

Guess they’re just determined to keep the Yuletide gay.

Elsewhere in the war on Christmas:

What part of the phrase “deep-fried Coca Cola” don’t you understand?

It’s state fair time, which means the culinary masterminds of the fryolator are hard at work looking for new things to flash fry. So ten-gallon hats off to Abel Gonzales Jr. who made it possible for the State Fair of Texas to be able to become the first and hopefully last home to a concotion of Coca-Cola flavored-batter dropped in to sizzling fat then covered with Coke fountain syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and a cherry.

You first…

And to wash it down? Gummi candies that smell and taste just like beer.

Corporate America knows exactly what Individual America wants…

All from the PR newswire yesterday: