In March 2015, Coca-Cola released a new ad as part of a public relations campaign celebrating Fanta’s 75th anniversary. The ad announces that the drink was created in Germany during the 1940’s when limited resources were available to produce Coke (Szathmary 2015). The ad promoted Fanta’s new drink recipe and featured its unmistakable ring-bottle (as can be seen in Image 1), referring to the 1940’s when the drink was first produced as the good old times (Soonmi 2015). This sparked a furious online backlash with offended commentators reporting that the ad had left them speechless (Campbell 2015).
Image 1 (Source: Campbell 2015)
Coca-Cola responded by pulling the video offline after the backlash (Campbell 2015) however it had already been uploaded to sites such as YouTube. A statement was issued in which Coca-Cola apologised for any offence caused by the ad and suggested that the video was intended to evoke positive memories created by over seven decades of brand history and that Coca-Cola has no affiliation with Hitler or the Nazi Party (Szathmary 2015).
In my opinion, the actions have neither helped nor hindered Coca-Cola’s reputation as although causing outrage with such a sensitive topic, Coca-Cola’s swift response showed evidence of an effective crisis management plan. Wilcox et al. (2013) suggest that how an organisation responds within the first 24 hours can determine whether the event remains a localised incident or becomes a full-scale crisis. To their benefit, Coca-Cola is a large global company with a well-established brand history often being ranked amongst the best global brands; it is possible that this incident will be isolated without long-lasting damage to their reputation. Despite this, in Germany and surrounding countries, there will most likely be a longer lasting effect and potential for permanent damage to Coca-Cola’s reputation.
Campbell 2015, ‘Coca-Cola pulls ‘Nazi’ advert after furious online backlash’, The Express, 3 March, viewed 18 April 2015, http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/561589/Coca-Cola-pulls-Nazi-advert-after-furious-online-backlash
Soonmi 2015, Fanta’s 75th Anniversary Commercial (English Subtitles), video, 27 Febrary, viewed 18 April 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAJXHPaWUWw
Szathmary 2015, ‘Coca-Cola pulls ‘Nazi’ Fanta advertisement which referred to the 1940s as ‘the good old times’’, Daily Mail Australia, 5 March, viewed 18 April 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2979582/Coca-Cola-pulls-Nazi-Fanta-advertisement-referred-1940s-good-old-times.html
Wilcox, DL, Cameron, GT, Reber, BH & Shin, JH 2013, Think: Public Relations, Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.