GLOBAL – The mainstream media has been duped by a hoax claim that Coke is to be marketed in eco-friendly bioplastic bags following a report in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper on 8 July 2012.
The newspaper reported that the beverage giant was planning to introduce a coke-bottle shaped bioplastic bag in selected markets following a market trend in El Salvador where vendors serve Coke in plastic bags so consumers can avoid paying refundable deposits.
Once in print by a respectable newspaper like the Daily Mail, the story went viral on the internet, being repeated, and expanded by websites such as the UK's Packaging News, Deccan Chronicle, politicalincorrection.com, www.clickorlando.com, TopNewsHealth, and yahoo lifestyle, many of which stated that Coke “has announced it plans to start selling drinks in biodegradable plastic bags in many countries.”
When contacted by www.packwebasia.com, to fact-check the story, The Coca-Cola Company's (TCC) Communications Manager – Eurasia & Africa, Sebastian van der Vegt, confirmed that the story is a spoof which originates from an Internet video, which appears to be a corporate marketing presentation to consumers announcing the launch of Coca-Cola in plastic bags,
“Coca-Cola clarifies that currently there is no presentation of Coca-Cola in plastic bag in any country of Central America,” said Vegt.
“Recently, a video was circulated on different social networks, which suggests the existence of this presentation in the market. In this regard, it is necessary to clarify that The Coca-Cola Company is not the author of the video and is not responsible for its dissemination.”
The “Coca-Cola Bag”
The video in question masquerades as a TCC presentation announcing the successful launch of flexible plastic bags in the shape of Coke’s iconic contour bottle as a low-cost packaging alternative to the glass bottles, in El Salvador.
The video claims that this is a “simple and affordable” packaging idea borne out of the common consumer practice in certain developing countries to sell drinks in generic plastic bags with a straw, because consumers do not want to pay a deposit on a returnable glass bottle.
The “Coca-Cola Bag” – as shown in the video – is described as being “an inexpensive bag with a unique Coca-Cola bottle shape” that “delivers the full Coca-Cola experience without costing the consumer a cent more”.
Because of this new package, “we recover our famous branding, keeping Coca-Cola distinguished from all other drinks,” the voiceover explains.
In addition, the video claims the bag is biodegradable to “stay friendly to our eco-system”.
The video goes on to describe how the “Coca-Cola Bag” has been so successful that it has spread to other parts of Central America, prompting TCC to explore ways to launch the packaging in other regions with similar consumer habits.
However, Vegt explained to PackWebasia.com that “while Coca-Cola is always looking for new and better ways of satisfying consumer demands,” TCC distributes Coca-Cola in Central American countries only via cans, plastic PET and glass.