REVEALED: The Massive PR Lies Needed To Make Coca-Cola Appear Eco-Friendly

  6/14/2018 by Eleanor Goldfield

Back in 2007, Coca-Cola promised that for every drop of water they take, they’d give one back. The announcement came following some horrendous press in the mid aughts regarding Coca-Cola’s penchant for siphoning water from local sources in order to keep costs low. Initially set for 2020, the company announced that they had reached their water replenishment goal in 2016 – even taking out a full page ad in the New York Times to celebrate this unbelievable feat. The problem was and is that this feat isn’t just unbelievable – it is in fact not true. Coke’s ambitious aim was wrapped in all the fixins of a green-washing campaign extravaganza.

First off, they employed vague (but clean and comfortable) language: “water neutral.” The problem is, as The Verge notes in their coverage of this story, no one can agree on what the fuck “water neutral” means. This quintessential green-washing term was coined by a businessman who claimed corporations could offset global water crises by purchasing credits that would then be invested in water access and water efficiency programs. (Let’s put aside the fact that asking corporations stealing our water to save our water is kinda like asking the guy who stabbed you to drive you to the hospital.) The water neutral initiative never bothered to explain how corporations would calculate their water usage or screen programs that claim to give water back. But the nuts and bolts weren’t important. As Andre Agassi once said, “Image is everything.”

As Coca-Cola found that their corporate supply chain was guzzling water that they would never dream of paying to replace or mitigate, some creative accounting was employed to ensure a clean image and corporate conscience. There’s 0.5 liters of water in a bottle of coke. It takes 35 liters of water to produce a half-liter bottle of Coke. Guess which amount of water they’re “replacing”? When Coke says it’s returning “every drop,” what they mean is they’re replacing only the water that actually fits into each bottle or can. According to a Water Footprint study, “nearly 99 percent of its water use is left unaccounted for — possibly more, considering that not all of the company’s offset projects actually “return” water to nature, by the company’s own admission.” By their own admission!

Meanwhile Coke has partnered with (read: paid shit tons of money to) environmental groups that then go on to congratulate Coke on being “water neutral.” Then hippie-type millennials dance on beaches in their ads, making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, imagining that Coke actually might give a flying fuck as to how many millions of people on this planet don’t have access to clean water. But surprise-surprise, they don’t. They only care about their bottom line. And it always costs more to actually do better than to appear to do better. Indeed, this might as well be etched in stone on every corporate building in the world. For each campaign laced with environmental concern, sustainability, giving back, stewardship and other choice verbiage, there’s a whole team of people whose job it is to strap “eco-friendly” on the backs of endangered species languishing in parched forests or on scorched earth.

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5 responses to “REVEALED: The Massive PR Lies Needed To Make Coca-Cola Appear Eco-Friendly”

  1. Craig says:

    (Clinton commenting doesn’t sound like a lie always, yet like much in this empire twisted truths are dished up on occasion Only to serve the huge amount of addictions that service and maintain the big lies largely being followed).

  2. Craig says:

    The toxic trail of the history of people…. no different from DemGOP coke is, whether Obama subsidizing coke or etc, or clinton saying “things were different back then” (before likes of weinstein was stopped to some degree).. in context of, back then, when clinton said how different things were when he said “I didnt have….. “(Monica Lewinsky hearings/demgop theatre), ya clinton, so different things were that ya did the big lie like always.

  3. Ben Johnson says:

    One of the most interesting things you learn when you study advertising law is how many ways you can be utterly lying through your teeth and still legally telling the truth.

  4. Philicia Troup says:

    35 liters of H20 to make a half liter of coke?!? :/ What the heck, thats one wasteful, infuriating, mind-boggling statistic. My God.
    I don’t drink soda (or energy drinks, dont like em, & all that sugar) & I don’t buy any of it.
    And they lied about their shitty PR stunt, what can you compare that amount of greed too?
    Just commenting on my own sense of shock, possible feeling of helplessness & overall frustration.

    Refocusing on something far more important that my emotions, I’ve read somewhere that at the current rate of water consumption. Some 65% of humanity will experience water scarcity by as early as 2040.
    I do what I can as much as I can with local activism efforts here, (Identity Evropa is trying to take over my city) lots of writing.

    All the horrible shit that’s been going on for so long. I admit that it’s overwelming.
    Instead of a endless whack-a-mole situation, we need to unplug that crummy arcade game from the wall, so to speak- there’s a far better analogy.

    I appreciate your reporting and I always make an effort to see what you’re saying.
    Thank you for that honest objective critique on the left (pretty recently)

    Thank you.

  5. What you are doing is very important: one day, one day when the books are written the real truth will reveal all

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