I was surprised last night to see a tv commercial by Coca-Cola, asking viewers to help them save polar bears. I remember Coca-Cola being criticized several years back for exploiting the polar bear image for commercial gain so I decided to look into this new campaign to see who benefits.
- “Working with governments, industry and local communities to implement a range-wide Polar Bear Conservation Action Plan.
- Reducing climate change, working towards truly sustainable development, and protecting critical habitats, including key feeding and denning areas.
- Addressing threats to polar bears such as climate change, shipping and offshore drilling for oil and toxic chemicals in the food chain.”
There are three ways that Coke will contribute funds:
- after customers buy certain Coca-Cola products, the PIN number can be entered on the website. This initiates donations from Coke to a maximum of $100,000.00 if 1,400,000 PIN’s are entered between October 31/09 and January 4/10
- Coca-Cola will match individual donations to WWF between these same dates, to a maximum of $75,000.00
- Coca-Cola will make a $15 donation for each e-gift redemption (involves PIN’s and the accumulation of iCoke coins) to a maximum of $25,000.00 between the dates above.
Altogether, that is a possible total of $200,000.00 donated from Coca-Cola to the World Wildlife Federation. But the total depends on how many customers buy PIN numbers, make donations and redeem product points. Hmmmm. So, here I’ll put on my cynic hat and say, ‘How much profit does Coca-Cola make each year?’ and ‘How much could they really donate to the WWF just outright, with no strings attached to their customers wallets?’ Here is a statement from a news release about their First Quarter 2009 Results:
“Consumers around the world love and trust our brands and turn to us to provide simple moments of refreshment nearly 1.6 billion times every day. And every week, our system reaches 20 million customers around the world with innovative, category-leading brands and services that deliver at the point-of-sale. There really is no better consumer business to be in today…or tomorrow.” “Further, our business has historically generated significant cash flow in all economic conditions, enabling us to invest in key brands and geographies, and consistently return value to our shareowners. This is clearly reflected by our 47th consecutive annual dividend increase and the continued investment behind our growing stable of billion dollar brands.” These statements are from Muhtar Kent, president and chief executive officer, The Coca-Cola Company.
I do not want to sound too cynical because any socially responsible initiative is better than none. Involving their customers may have the spin-off effect of raising awareness and committment to climate change issues. But selling 1.6 billion products a day? Goodness, couldn’t they afford to raise their donation limits a bit?