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Why Coca-Cola in a White Can 'Tastes Different'
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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One month ago, Coca-Cola began its Holiday “Arctic Home” campaign, partnering with the World Wildlife Fund and turning those iconic red cans white “in celebration of the polar bear.” The white cans were planned to remain on shelves through February, but are being replaced immediately with a red version due to emergency circumstances — customers were confusing the white “regular” cans with Diet Coke cans.
To be fair, this was the first time ever that Coca Cola replaced red as the primary color on its regular cans, while the Diet Coke cans are always a recognizable silver. This is a bigger problem than it sounds. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Some consumers complained that it looked confusingly similar to Diet Coke's silver cans. Others felt that regular Coke tasted different in the white cans. Still others argued that messing with red bordered on sacrilege.”
This is beyond brand loyalty; this is branding loyalty.
Coca-Cola has released a few statements since the controversy arose; one in mid-November providing a fact sheet to help consumers distinguish the “Arctic Home” cans from the Diet Coke cans, and another yesterday on the introduction of the red can in which it explicitly noted “there has been no change to the classic Coca-Cola formula that everyone knows and loves.” Maybe so, but evidently packaging makes a big difference.

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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