Timing is Everything

The title is cliche, yes, but it was also the very first thing that came to mind when I read the headline for this article about Coca-Cola and the United Nations climate change conference held in Copenhagen last month. I just bumped into the article last week having seen it in a margin window at GreenBiz.com. Again, the conference was last month, so the late “find” is my own fault. But look again at when the article published: December 17th. For those of you who don’t know or remember, that was the second-to-last day of the COP15 meetings in Copenhagen.

If I were Coca-Cola’s CEO Muhtar Kent, who was interviewed in the article, I would have been pretty bummed that this posted as late as it did during the conference. As you’ll read, Coke is doing a lot to improve its credentials vis-a-vis sustainability, and the article provides links where you can learn more. (Alternatively, you can go here to learn about Coke’s Live Positively platform on sustainability.)

So what’s the problem? Well, Coke played a large role in helping to promote the UN’s climate change conference, for instance with their Bottle Of Hope ad campaign. As a consequence, they received a lot of negative commentary in the Twittersphere and on Facebook from two main groups.

  • The Left: Who felt that the company was greenwashing.
  • The Right: Who felt that climate change was hogwash, and the UN a body interested in taking over the world.

Had content like what GreenBiz ran actually posted a little earlier–during or maybe even before the climate change conference–Coke could at least have neutralized some of the backlash from the left.

Disclosure: I was involved with one of the marketing campaigns that helped promote the climate change conference and, at times, had to manage negative commentary referenced above–from both of those groups. I have no business ties to Coca-Cola but am known to drink their trademark beverage from time to time.


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