Coca-Cola stays ahead of the curve.
March 15, 2001 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Coca-Cola stays ahead of the curve. [NY Times, requires free subscription.] Facing increased criticism over commercialism in public schools, Coke vows to change its policies away from blatant advertising and strictly offering sugar-sweetened drinks. Most notable is a potential end to the "Cola Wars" of exclusive contracts with school districts. But with Pepsi following close behind [see end of Post article], is this really a landmark moment, or an attempt to stave off criticism while still branding the available target audience of teenagers?
posted by legibility (14 comments total)
Soda is evil. Surely schools see merit for having P.E., they must acknowledge that since they do try, they should follow the obvious guidelines.
posted by tiaka at 7:30 AM on March 15, 2001

...include juice, milk and water in its school vending machines

Of course, Coke has juice and water products, and a milk product is forthcoming. As they say on their site, The products of The Coca-Cola Company touch lives everywhere. No lie.

This action makes me ill; it's just a moved designed to give people warm fuzzies about the company just as Philip Morris blows millions every year telling people how it donates to charities and the link.

Remember: every business has one goal, and that's to make money. Coke's gonna profit nicely from this; otherwise they wouldn't do it. The profit in this case? More brand awareness, and it all looks really good. So disgusting.
posted by hijinx at 7:35 AM on March 15, 2001

Coke's gonna profit nicely from this; otherwise they wouldn't do it.

Coke hopes to profit nicely from this.
posted by o2b at 7:38 AM on March 15, 2001

...donates to charities and the link

Of course I meant the like. Now I must purchase a Coke product to get my mind going (ha)
posted by hijinx at 7:42 AM on March 15, 2001

You should see how many pop machines we have at school, it's unreal. We have around 400 people in my high school, and there are at least 20 machines, most Pepsi and Coke, some Fruit Works and other another juice.

Every year there have been more and more squeezed in, granted our school gets a large sum of money for having the machines. We were offered around $10,000 to go with just Coke, but the student council turned it down. Why? Because you can't live without Mountain Dew.
posted by Mark at 8:33 AM on March 15, 2001

I heard a radio report on this yesterday (on All Things Considered, I believe), and a Coke rep was saying how it was important to acknowledge that schools were "a different kind of retail environment." I would say that, no, they aren't a "retail environment" at all.

I know they raise money for the band or athletics or cheerleaders, but I'd rather schools not provide soda and snack vending machines on campus during school hours. It's obvious that most of what is sold is unhealthy. But whatever.

Here in Springfield, the local Coke and Pepsi bottlers got together and went in on a three-way contract with the Springfield School District in which the bottlers would give up exclusive rights (I think Pepsi had it before...) and share access to schools in return for about five million dollars (which is all going to upgrade athletic facilities (except at the center-city high school... the bastards!)).

Another anecdote from southwest Missouri: I work at a state university and we've got an interesting situation: Coke has the exclusive contract on concessions at athletic events and venues, while Pepsi has the contract for all other campus sales. The worst consequences are: no Barq's at work; no Mountain Dew at games. But I'll survive I suppose.

just as Philip Morris blows millions every year telling people how it donates to charities

The worst part is that they spend more on the advertising about the giving than they do on the giving.
posted by daveadams at 9:54 AM on March 15, 2001

Mark, a high school on a human scale (400 people), and a student council that makes real decisions, I am impressed. Is there a "media literacy" course, something like the recent PBS/Frontline documentary, "The Merchants of Cool," at your school? I like those Mountain Dew commercials also, but I'm certain there is a good life -intelligent life- without the Dew, perhaps at your school? I find the notion of intelligent life in high school quite amazing these days. The fact that schools have to sell out their environment of intellectual integrity for the bucks( a la Coke, Channel One, etc.), I find quite depressing. Glad to see your student council resist this.
posted by jerrym at 11:17 AM on March 15, 2001

I have to point out the Cloaca by artist Wim Delvoye, It is a reproduction of the human digestive process. A shit machine. It's connection to Coca-Cola is as a lubricant since the machine has trouble digesting it. The name also contains the same four letters as Coca-Cola.

Yes, my purpose here is to point out strange shit. (rim shot)

posted by john at 2:00 PM on March 15, 2001

Soda is evil. Surely schools see merit for having P.E., they must acknowledge that since they do try, they should follow the obvious guidelines.

See, I can't come at this from your angle. I would sell the public school system to Coca Cola if they'd get rid of gym class.
posted by dagnyscott at 2:13 PM on March 15, 2001

I'm not sure that I object anymore, if the advertising goes away and the product range is nutritionally appropriate. (I'd hope that pricing etc. go hand in hand with just making juices available, so that it doesn't become a last-person-to-the-caf-loses thing.) Coke's trying to make money, just as the suppliers that the schools used to use were trying to make money. The school has goals, here, too, which include keeping students on campus and not skipping meals.

I'm not against capitalism per se, I'm just against capitalism trumping the original reasons that the money-grubbing corporation was brought inside, the tail wagging the dog.*
posted by dhartung at 3:18 PM on March 15, 2001

Man, if you took the pop machine out of my high school I'd have hunted you down and... well, whined at lot at you. Maybe. I'd surely complain and gripe to my friends, though.

Anyway, I liked being able to drop a buck on a pop when I was thirsty, tired or craving sugar, and I wish we had 20 pop machines, because then I wouldn't have had to waste the whole 3 minutes they gave us to shuffle betwen classes.
posted by cCranium at 4:22 PM on March 15, 2001

Interesting. At my high school of 389 people, we have 2 soda machines. One of them sells soda, the other Snapples and water and stuff... They're sold out more often than not. But there is exactly ZERO advertising for any company in any market anywhere on campus. There is a cafe type place in the student center that sells all kinds of soda - most people buy it from there. My elementary and middle school didn't have any of this product placement either.

Still, I am an avid Coke drinker. Lately I've been delving into their wonder known as canned Nestea. I think it's hard to blame Coke the company for making kids unhealthy. Water, milk, OJ, juices, etc. are always options when I don't feel like soda. I choose what I want to drink - not the Coca-Cola Company.
posted by swank6 at 6:22 PM on March 15, 2001

Still, I am an avid Coke drinker.... I choose what I want to drink - not the Coca-Cola Company.

So you believe, but what you don't realize is that you are addicted to the caffeine and your body is just making you think you enjoy the taste of Coke. :) (I'm only halfway joking...)
posted by daveadams at 10:26 AM on March 16, 2001

Eh. If it wasn't coke I'd be drinking Mountain Dew. If no soft drinks, then coffee. I just like soft drinks better.
(of course I'm an american raised on sugar an' grease an' stuff, so my tastes are probably deformed)
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:31 AM on March 16, 2001

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