I am not going to piss into anyone’s can or bottle of soda, and certainly not on the brilliant marketing campaign that the Coca Cola company is running right now.
This is the ‘Share a Coke‘ campaign we’re all talking about, in which people are putting their names on cans or bottles of Coca Cola…or, to be accurate, Coca Cola is putting people’s names on cans and bottles.
I had ignored the campaign as I subconsciously do most of these things, but last week found myself at the checkout till of the Nakumatt Oasis where the lady taking my money tried to kick off a strangely familiar conversation with me but failed because she called me “Daniel.”
“Isn’t your name Daniel?”
“Eh-eh! So why have you bought this?” she asked, pointing at the bottle.
It clicked, I laughed, and then told her to finish her job so I could leave.
The campaign is brilliant because it has been successful enough to get people talking about Coke and even I have posted a blog on this. Plus, and more important to their bottom line, people are definitely buying more coca cola because they have their own names on the items.
I don’t know who sent the original tweet but it made one stop to think; and to notice how misplaced some of the excitement over this campaign has been. That tweet should be framed and put into a Timeline of Fame.
I am now thinking about that lady in the Nakumatt who thought that I had actually put aside time to riffle through the bottles on the shelf, looking for my name on a bottle of soda. Which I would drink down and empty. Then what? How could she look at me and think me so bereft of distractions serious enough to outweigh one involving seeing my given name on a retail product?
That’s not to say anything negative about anyone out there rummaging through supermarket shelves for just that exact bottle that bears the name of their loved one, parent, child or self but…
This is another level of neo-colonialism: An African chap struggling to put a Jewish or English name onto an American branded bottle… But at least the Coke is bottled here. And the bottles are made close by…somewhere, I think.
By the way, WHERE are these bottles made? Do we import empty bottles and cans and then fill them with the stuff here? Do we have responsibility programmes for the disposal of cans and plastic coca cola bottles?
If the campaign had been taken to Minute Maid bottles, those ones that are also owned by the Coca Cola company, and particularly the Mango flavoured juices which are presumably made from mangoes grown strictly in Uganda that therefore enrich ordinary Ugandan farmers in northern and eastern Uganda, would it be much better?
First wait – the Wikipedia site for Minute Maid doesn’t list Uganda (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minute_Maid) – why?
My panic was short lived, thank God, and I eventually found it here: http://www.minutemaid.co.ug/pages/landing/index.html though I was amused at the obvious non-Ugandanness of the brand.
Where did I even hear that the mangoes in the Minute Maid Mango drink were grown in Uganda?
THIS is what the website shows as products here:
Failing to find the mango juice products on the website, I checked the video and within two seconds found out that…well:
And their slogan is “Made With Nature”, which would go well with “Gifted By Nature”, but unfortunately we are not in their natural picture.
Before we go back to putting ‘our’ names on Coca Cola cans and bottles, I wonder where the hell I got the idea that Minute Maid Mango juice is made out of Ugandan mangoes?
Plus many other stories talking about this “sustainability” project that involves the Bill Gates Foundation.
There is even a serious study published by ‘CSR Initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School’ titled “PROJECT NURTURE: Partnering for Business Opportunity and Development Impact” (by Beth Jenkins and Lorin Fries in 2012).
This study says many things, including, “While Project Nurture will not conclude until 2014, we believe that the partnership already offers a rich set of lessons learned for building inclusive and sustainable value chains and for building complex partnerships. It also offers a model with the potential to be adapted in other countries and for other commodities. Adaptation is already underway or under consideration in several places within the Coca-Cola system.”
It would be good to establish exactly where within the Coca-Cola system.
It would be good to confirm whether any of those 50,000 farmers in Uganda and Kenya are actually producing mangoes or passion fruits for Minute Maid Mango Juice.
It would be good for someone to tell us where the mango puree used in the Minute Maid Mango Juice in Uganda actually comes from. Which factory produces it (read the study for clues)? How much have farmers earned from this? What has the impact been in their villages, or homes? If these mangoes are being transported in their multitudes, has there been an upsurge in trucks in Eastern Uganda? Have there been new garages set up there for these trucks?
See, the study says Project Nurture “is a $11.5million partnership among the Coca-Cola Company, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the international non-profit organisation TechnoServe. It intends to double the fruit incomes of more than 50,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya and Uganda by 2014 by building inclusive mango and passion fruit value chains…”
What businesses in Eastern Uganda have burgeoned since 2011 as a result of these doubled incomes?
Let’s not allow investigations of this nature to get in the way of journalists covering crowds of people queuing up to put ‘their’ names on cans of soda.
No; let’s not distract them lest they even suggest that this technology of putting names on cans is simply getting a sticker and pasting it onto a can.
No; instead, let’s jump onto the wagon of soft drinks but since the 2015 slogan of Coca Cola is “Open to Suggestions”, those who dare could submit a few to the people at The Coca Cola Company.
Mine would be: Publish the names of those 17,000 farmers on bottles of their Minute Maid Mango Juice and get some of us to buy them in celebration of their labour.