I. INTRODUCTION Page 3
II. CRISIS HITS COKEPage3
III. COCA COLA’S RESPONSEPage4
IV. THE AFTER MATHPage5
V. FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCESPage
VI. PUBLIC CONSEQUENCESPage
VII. WHAT WAS LEARNTPage
IIX. IMPACT ON STAKEHOLDERSPage
IX. DECIPHERING THE PR MESSAGEPage
X. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BETTER PR MANAGEMENT Page
The invention of coca-cola originally started as coca-wine by John Pemberton in 1885. After the reinvention of coke’s identity into a refreshment, it began being sold in bottles for the first time in 1894. Coca Cola has always portrayed itself as a company based on unwavering values, morals, and goals. They offer world class quality of sparkling and still beverages, from coca-cola extending to 400 soft drinks, juices, teas, coffees, waters, sports and energy drinks that refresh, hydrate, nourish, relax, and energize. The Coca Cola Company and has become a Coca-Colonization. The world of Coca Cola is ever spreading in more than 200 countries around the globe. Drinking Coca Cola has always been a trend and a life-style. The company’s publicity and communications with their customers and employees have always been of utmost clarity, honesty, and candor. The various campaigns carried out over the years, have only become better and ever more powerful as an influence. However, when a crisis as big as the one that hit Coca Cola in Belgium in 1999 takes a company by surprise, no matter how big it is, no crisis management team can be prepared for a problem of this magnitude.
II. CRISIS HITS COKE
According to an article written in Junk Science (July 3rd 1999) 33 children from one school suffered from symptoms of nausea, headache, fatigue, palpitations, abdominal discomfort, and malaise after having drunk bottled Coca-Cola on June 8th, 1999. They were hastily driven to a hospital where 18 remained for observation. Over the span of the next two days, several other children from the same school were also admitted to the hospital. It was announced on the evening news of June 9, that Coca-Cola had to recall 30 million cans and bottles, the largest product recall in its 113 year history. The entire inventory had to be called back from the Belgian market and banned from sale. From then on, similar episodes linked to the drinking of various types of Coca-Cola beverages occurred in other schools and individuals; most complaints consisted of vague constitutional symptoms and were transient. Almost 100 more consumers complained of similar symptoms. However, neither physical findings nor laboratory results revealed any significant abnormality in the tests conducted. However, one case of intravascular hemolysis was tentatively attributed to Coca-Cola after several diagnostic tests. Intense media coverage surrounded the whole crisis from day one. The Belgian Health Ministry enforced an immediate ban on all Coca Cola products from being sold and distributed in the market. Hundreds upon hundreds of consumers contacted the National Poison Centre reporting complaints after having had Coca-Cola products. The cases of alleged poisoning reached all European countries and stretched all the way to countries like Japan and India. According to Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO, Doug Ivester, in a statement released on 16June 1999 in Business Week, they had identified two causes for this epidemic. “In the bottles from one Belgian plant, "bad carbon dioxide" was to blame and a "fungicide" applied on transport pallets had contaminated the outside of some cans from another plant”. Coca-Cola presented the results of independent chemical analyses for toxicological advice. The analyses revealed the presence low odorous amounts of hydrogen sulphide, “possibly originating from the hydrolysis of carbonyl sulphide”. In both cases, Coca Cola claimed that both instances would simply cause a foul odor but nothing more drastic than or as drastic as...