For the past 125 years, Coca-Cola has been known for being conservative in both design and taste. In fact, when the holiday seasons come around, the public anticipates the traditional Santa Claus and polar bear campaigns.However, this past holiday season Coca-Cola decided to change things up. The company changed the color of their cans for the first time ever. It shifted from red cans to white cans in order to promote its campaign “Save the polar bears.” The aim was to reduce human impact on global climate change in a joint effort with the World Wildlife Fund.
Coca-Cola released the white cans to suppliers on November 1st hoping to sell more than one billion white cans through the month of February. At first it seemed to be a favorable and innovative marketing and sustainability campaign especially because it focused on one of Coca-Cola’s popular holiday icons: polar bears. However, these cans were quickly taken off the shelves and replaced by the traditional red background cans due to consumer confusion and criticism.
Through the use of social media and telephone calls, Coca-Cola consumers complained about the white cans. Many were furious because the white cans were extremely similar to the silver Diet Coke cans. Diabetics complained that this confusion could be harmful to their health while other consumers even believed that the taste in the white cans was different. This confusion seemed to be mostly for those customers who bought individual cans. Some of these consumers even returned the white cans and asked for their money back after opening them and realizing they were not Diet Coke.
Coca-Cola was able to quickly respond to the consumer’s complaints and shipped out new red holiday cans by mid-December. Even though the idea of the white cans failed, the campaign itself was not a complete failure. The World Wildlife Fund is still receiving Coca Cola’s support in order to protect the habitat of the polar bears.
The white cans have now become a “collectors item” that will increase in value over the years.
Coca-Cola learned this holiday season that their consumers prefer traditional holiday campaigns. Will Coca-Cola use their usual holiday slogans and designs next year or will they implement a new marketing campaign? Only time will tell.