Recently Coca-Cola’s Vitamin Water ran a promo in Canada that mashed English and French words together. These words were printed underneath the cap of all Vitamin Water bottle distributed in Canada. The campaign was intended to play off Canada’s bilingualism but that failed when the words “You Retard” appeared on the lid of a young woman’s drink. The woman, who has a sister with cerebral palsy, was deeply offended by the “R” word. In the French language the word retard means late or tardy. The women who happen to be a photographer took a picture of herself holding the bottle cap and sent it to who father. The girl’s father responded by sending a lengthy letter to Coca-Cola demanding an explanation. The response he received from Coca-Cola’s Canada spokeswoman was an excuse with a halfhearted apology. Below is the response that Coca-Cola’s Canada spokeswoman Shannon Denny gave regarding the offensive bottle caps.
The words used in the promotion were reviewed only from the perspective of French speakers, for whom “retard” means “late.” “We did not mean to offend at all. We are certainly very apologetic for this oversight,” she says.
As a result of the bad PR Coca-Cola has destroyed the remaining bottle caps in the promotion and has plans to draft a formal apology to the family.
Do you agree with the way that Coca-Cola managed this PR crisis?
To see the full letter written by the girl’s father read the article in the link.