Coke: Don’t Sugar-coat the Issue

RhonaApplebaum 28750 011 300x200 Coke: Dont Sugar coat the Issue

The PR Verdict: “F” for Coke and Rhona Applebaum.

Pity Dr. Rhona Applebaum, Coca-Cola’s vice president of science and regulatory affairs.  She has the uphill battle of giving Coke’s response to Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of sodas in containers larger than 16 oz.  The ban, which would apply only to places other than grocery or convenience stores, has the food and drink lobby agitated. So what does Coca-Cola think?

Applebaum says the issue is about public health.  Appearing on CNN and talking in confusing metaphors, she said “Being gusty does not mean being right,” and “Stepping into traffic is not a leadership moment.”  Whatever that means, bottom line, Coke’s PR message is that obesity is about physical activity and a balanced diet.

With a long list of celebrities and opinion formers coming out in favor of the ban, Coca-Cola might be on a losing streak.  No one disagrees that smaller portions are part of a logical solution to obesity.  The smarter tactical move for Coke would be to make a conciliatory gesture and get on board.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) for Coca-Cola.  Claiming you are as concerned about diabetes and obesity as the next person while advocating the sale of jumbo sodas is a hard sell.  Why resist the flow toward health for consumers?

PR Takeaway:  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. In any PR issue, it’s important to follow the groundswell of public opinion.  On this one, despite some nanny state concerns, Bloomberg seems to be winning the day.  Applebaum’s comments might have sounded so much more convincing if she had simply conceded that this was an interesting first step.  The ban, after all, is limited in scope.  Why not agree with it, and then move the conversation onto the broader issues that ultimately take soda drinks out of the direct firing line?

To read more and see the interview, click here.

Taking A Bite Out Of Apple

apple Taking A Bite Out Of AppleApple’s record-breaking financial results have been overshadowed by a NYTimes investigation concerning health and safety at Apple’s supplier factories abroad.

The NYTimes traced the death of a 22-year-old worker at a factory in China, run by one of Apple’s key suppliers. Experts deemed the accident avoidable.  Unnamed Apple executives were quoted anonymously, claiming that while they had programs to monitor and audit suppliers, urgent market pressures sometimes took priority over safety.

Meanwhile, Apple officially declined comment. Given its publicly stated commitment to safety and its established Code of Conduct for suppliers, this was a missed opportunity.

The PR VERDICT: “C” for Apple.  Better steps should have been taken. Silence in this case can only lead to further suspicion.

Start with a statement that says Apple was distressed and disturbed by the allegations.  Then reiterate that nearly 300 audits of suppliers are completed annually all over the world and that Apple has an established management infrastructure to deal with this issue. Finally, confirm that the case raised by the NYTimes will now have the highest internal priority.

Don’t let the NYTimes have the last say.

To read the full article click here