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Mon, Mar. 27th, 2006, 12:56 am

Coca-Cola wages war against choice - and tap water

In this age of branding, even plain old milk needs a big ad campaign and celebrity endorsements. But another popular beverage, tap water, has no such support — a tactical misstep that has left it vulnerable to aggressive competitors like the Coca-Cola Company.

The Associated Press
Coca-Cola's entry in the bottled-water sweepstakes.
Coca-Cola offered a glimpse of its battle plan against tap water in an article on one of its Web sites headlined "The Olive Garden Targets Tap Water & WINS."Aimed at restaurants selling the company's fountain drinks, the article laid out Coke's antiwater program for the Olive Garden chain as a"success story" for others to emulate.

The article was posted three years ago but went unnoticed until this summer, when Rob Cockerham, a graphic designer in Sacramento, Calif., stumbled across it. It then spread through Internet circles until Coca-Cola started fielding questions about it and took the entire site down. A spokeswoman said the company was concerned that the site, which was due to be dismantled anyway, might be misinterpreted by consumers.

Mon, Mar. 27th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)

They're a business and they want people to buy their products.

Isn't this thinking of "bottom line above all" the reason that Coke and other bodies do the terrible things they do? Coca-Cola, with something like a billion sales a day, don't need any more money. An explanation for their actions isnt the same as an excuse.

Trying to take sales away from water isn't a thousand miles away from the situation in many poor countries, where Coke is considered a delicacy. When a Westerner visits an African family, they may well be served coke (costing a days wage perhaps), rather than water, as a kind gesture. If policies and marketing that led to that kind of situation are not unethical, then I don't know what is. What about Coke machines being inescapable on college campuses? It's not directly unethical, but I'm sure you are not happy about the fact that they strike such deals with universities, and invade every corner of our eyesight. It's greedy. Full stop.

Furthermore, if I go into a restaurant, I don't want the feeling that the waiter is pushing certain products aggressively, which is just what coke is training them to do. That does not enhance my relaxation and happiness, as coke seems to think having a soft drink instead of water will. That might well happen to some extent in any business, and I can accept that, but there's a difference between a family restaurant trying to make ends meet and the poor, struggling fizzy drink giant trying to wring out an extra million before closing time.

Maybe compared to the other charges against them, it is less offensive. But this religious pursuit of money to a neverending extent makes me sick. "Just fucking relax and be happy with the billions you've got!" Trying to cut into a tap water market - it's pathetic.

Tue, Mar. 28th, 2006 03:38 am (UTC)

i completely agree. water should be a right; greed shouldn't be.

Tue, Mar. 28th, 2006 08:19 am (UTC)

It sounds like you can still get water upon request.

Tue, Mar. 28th, 2006 08:18 am (UTC)

Yes, it is in a way. I just don't think Coke should be punished for their innovation. It's a fair business move. Sure, they make a lot of money but I'm glad to see that they're doing it not unethically.

I'm ok with some greed. It seems pretty human to me. Further, it helps motivate people in an open market. It keeps people trying and this sure has helped the net world quality of life.

I'm sure you don't want that kind of waiter but you're subject to buying what the market has to offer you in the first place too. If there's a strong enough market for places that don't push soda over water, it'll remain a filled niche. If enough people are into it, though, I'm sure you and I will have to adjust.

I'm ok with a free, open, fair market. If this was some other company, no one here would complain so much. I'm just saying that we should give credit where credit is due. Sure, it's a marketing ploy, but those're pretty standard among big and small businesses today.
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Wed, Mar. 29th, 2006 08:24 am (UTC)

I'm against unethical tactics. It's not as if there wouldn't be unethical business practices under any other economic system.

Subsistence farming sucks for whoever is doing it. Specialized labor has allowed for a more efficient job and goods market. People can afford health care, dental coverage, computers, and afford taxes for public goods and services.

Farmers would do best for themselves by getting out of farming and only having a few farmers do all the farming for the world. It's just way more efficient that way.

Sweatshops are not entirely bad. They provide jobs, albeit crappy ones, for people who might otherwise have no job at all. Or, a worse one (prostitution, drugs, etc.). They're sort of necessary evils at this point in history, arguably. (See Jeffrey Sachs)

Free, open markets are fair when co.s and corp.s are developed so long as they act ethically (ex. and don't take advantage of monopolistic markets.

Sure, Capitalism-driven globalization has some evils but it seems to be working toward providing a net benefit to the world. (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7996617766640098677&q=gapminder) I'm mostly down with the current system but strive to eliminate at least some of its inequities.
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Wed, Mar. 29th, 2006 11:46 am (UTC)

Response to paragraph 1. Subsistence farmers need not be forced into prostitution. That doesn't need to be the default occupation for people. Same goes with drug dealer and factory worker. The latter doesn't even need to be a bad thing. Governments have made it necessary to merge into Capitalist systems, yes. But this is a good thing.

2. If that's how you ran your family, you'd have rough time economically. You wouldn't have easy access to healthcare, food, communications, etc. See my initial argument against subsistence farming above. You're not adding anything new here. Universal subsistence farming is inefficient and would be retroactive in today's age. We would be worse off than we are now in that situation.

The west is not the only population with food. Western countries are not the only feed countries. Presently there is enough food to go around. However, resources, time, and willingness to distribute that food are not available.

Food is not the only resource the world is lacking. People are without education, healthcare, dental care, heating, sanitation services, etc. These are not niceties. They are necessaries. People would not live as long or with as high a quality of life if we were all subsistence farmers. Agricultural, communications, and medical technology have increased length of life, infant survival rate, and quality of life, historically. Not decreased.

3. I disagree with you. It is healthier for land to be worked by a single farmer and for the land. The earth does not shriek in pain when humans mine it. Metals are good, useful, and allow for more efficient production (even of farming). I agree that fossil fuels are not great to be burning. I'd like it if we could avoid using these too. I also agree that hired hands on farms are inefficient. These people could be contributing to society in other ways. Machines are better for their jobs anyway. They could become scientists, or small business owners. That would be great!

Wed, Mar. 29th, 2006 11:47 am (UTC)
1tophi: Part II

4. Click on the link I posted. It disagrees with you right out. There is a net benefit of technology, Capitalism, and (arguably) globalization afforded to people. What I'm saying here is that, yes, some people have suffered some hardships due to Capitalism and globalization. Sure, this is uncontroversial. However, more people are benefiting overall. People sure lived shorter lives and were prone to more pains, illnesses, and injuries back in the hunter-gatherer days. It's becoming easier to be poor every year. There are more social programs that help people today than in any governmentless society.

Speak for yourself. The world does not seem all well and good to me. I strive to help that Ecuadorian farmer. And I use my computer to do so. Very efficiently, I might add.

If you want to get specific about it, it's unfair to say that America forced Ecuador into anything. The Ecuadorian government has been screwing its people over for years to its benefit. They've had close dealings with the US, its companies, and the IMF. The US and IMF have acted as opportunists and the Ecuadorian government have taken their loans and seen its economic gap widen. Blame the Ecuadorian government for being to quick to industrialize, not America. Sure, if not for globalization Ecuador wouldn't feel a need to industrialize but it could be better off if its government had been smarter about who it took money from. Now it's stuck on our dollar and is still trying to pay back loans it will not repay any time in the foreseeable future.

5. That is how Capitalism works. Competition requires that people fail while others do not. It's fair and anyone could be the failing party. That doesn't mean other opportunities won't be offered later. There's not necessarily a limited amount of capital. Today there's a widely expanding services market, and information market. Technology more and more is allowing us to do more with less. I can cite examples if you can't think of any upon request. I'm sure that if you think about it, you'll come up with several right off the top of your head. There's only so much stuff to go around, sure. This doesn't mean that everyone can't or won't eventually have access to a minimum amount of it.

6. The point of giving corporations a chance is that some of them have provided some very important goods, and opportunities to people. They've provided better, cheaper foods and services that wouldn't be available to people (especially the poor) without them. More people have access to cheap fruit and health services with them, for example. They produce public goods more efficiently than small, private businesses. They require less sustainable capital to maintain operations. They don't all act unethically.

7. Sure, and you'll notice how there are exponentially larger populations living on those continents now with net exponentially greater quality of health.

The economic supersystem the world operates under isn't non-functional. It's just somewhat dysfunctional.

Wed, Mar. 29th, 2006 08:11 am (UTC)

I'm ok with some greed. It seems pretty human to me.

Yeah I suppose. But murder and rape are also pretty human, if you mean they both existed in civilisation and when we still lived in fear of nature like all other animals.

It keeps people trying and this sure has helped the net world quality of life.

Despite the overwhelming exploitation of neoliberalism, corporatism and all the rest, it's true that everyone is slowly getting lifted off the mud. The problem is that we could do it infiniately better and that its rapidly destroying the planet. Resource depletion (mainly oil and gas) will probably bite a significant chunk out of the quality of life some of us have obtained.

If enough people are into it, though, I'm sure you and I will have to adjust.

I don't really go to restaurants, but I really hope a trend against water isn't too prevailant. It's something I demand I should be able to get for free, anywhere. There arent many things like that.

Sure, it's a marketing ploy

Yeah, but its a marketing ploy against the single most essential thing we need to live. That's sleazy by any corporations standards.

Wed, Mar. 29th, 2006 08:23 am (UTC)

1. By human, I meant natural and understandable; something I could be sympathetic toward. Murder and rape are human, sure; but I they're things that humans tend to strive to avoid, generally. A platonic view of the matter might even lead us to think that they're inhuman(e).

2. Sure, it's got problems. I just don't gather that we've got something better. What do you think would work infinitely better?


4. The Olive Garden isn't trying to get you to keep you from drinking water ever. I'm sure you can still walk into any Olive Garden and get a glass any time. They're just trying to get you to drink something else while there. They'd want you to drink water at home. Or, get it from their food/drink. No one's going to die of thirst because the Olive Garden doesn't serve you tap water when you first sit down at your table.

Thu, Mar. 30th, 2006 10:48 pm (UTC)

But don't we strive to keep people from being greedy as well? Even an advocate of capitalism (to whatever extent you are one of those) can see that competition and greed aren't the same thing.

I'm not going to present my manifesto for how I think the world should be, because aside from time and space, I don't have a complete one, not even close. I just know that trickle down economic thinking is a crock of shit, as evidenced by the fact that over half of humanity still lives in, at best, pretty bad conditions, despite a massive increase in economic growth worldwide. I also know that a system built on the idea of infinate economic growth in a finite world is at least as stupidly utopian as anything the Marxists or anarchists could come up with. I'm not anti-globalisation, but I think the way it is done now is a sham.

Well, I've never been to an Olive Garden. It's just that you said "if enough people buy into it, you and I will have to adjust", which sounded like a situation where water was less available. Oh well, misunderstanding perhaps.

Nice debating with you in a civilised manner, but these conversations have to be abandoned eventually.

Thu, Mar. 30th, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC)

1. We do in a way. I think this might help explain my position on the matter.

I pretty much agree with everything else you've said in this post.