News Feature | December 17, 2013

Coca-Cola Accused Of Campaign Against Tap Water

By Sara Jerome

Drunk

Coca-Cola has been accused of campaigning against tap water. 

The blog Civil Eats came down hard on the soft drink giant for what it described as launching a "Cap the Tap" campaign three years ago, geared toward restaurants. 

The blog said the effort had been described in the following way on the Coca Cola Solutions website:

"Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain. The good news: Cap the Tap–a program available through your Coca-Cola representative–changes these dynamics by teaching crew members or wait staff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages."

The company also made a pitch on its website based on the idea that diners order tap water to watch their weight: "Are your diners watching their waistlines? Then consider offering specialty beverages that suit their desires, taste great and put more punch into your bottom line than orders of tap water." 

The blog took the messaging as a sign that Coca-Cola is not working to adequately promote health and wellness. 

Another way to view the program? "Genius!" a satirical piece in the Los Angeles Times said. The editorial pitched what is described as a comparable (and fictional) campaign to keep fruit consumption low: "Let's face it: Fruit is a pain. It perishes and then those pesky little flies come around. So untidy. And what kid wouldn't prefer Mountain Dew to honeydew melon?"

Despite the recent criticism, Coca-Cola is often praised for its efforts to address water scarcity. Coca-Cola made a vow three years ago to become "water neutral" by 2020, Water Online previously reported

The Guardian reported last week that when Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent visited the Arctic and Manitoba, he "saw polar bears' struggles to feed themselves because of changing ice formation patterns."

Witnessing the struggles "of the animal that has been featured in Coke's advertising for more than a century reinforced Coke's efforts to find a sustainable business model focused on using less water, recycling more and impacting the planet less while still growing its business," the report said.

Image credit: "Drunk," © 2007 barekim, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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