Musings of a PR Professional



Bad PR Example: Killer Coke

On Google.com, a search for the term “coke” brings up about 38,400,000 results. However, sixth from the top, the site Killer Coke sits glaringly as one of the first search results reflecting the Coca-Cola company. Proceeding to click on Killer Coke brings you to a black and red sitewhere the first thing one sees is a picture of a corpse with the words “MURDER… IT’S THE REAL THING.” superimposed over the image. It is the site’s goal to stop the violence that is going on against union leaders who work at bottling plants in Colombia, South America.

The site is doing everything in its power to make people aware of the violent labor practices going on in Colombia. It offers everything from merchandise such as T-shirts with the slogans “Unthinkable! Undrinkable! Ban Killer Coke” to and archived news stories that reflect Coca-Cola in a negative way. Also on the site is a collection of the petitions againstthe Coca-Cola company as well as a list of international drinking alternatives to Coca-Cola.

This site is very bad PR for the Coca-Cola company for two main reasons.

First, being the sixth search result on Google, this site gets a lot of exposure. Coca-Cola is certainly not the word most people use today when they’re talking about this soft-drink, it is “coke.” As a result, it is most likely this is the word that is used by consumers of Coca-Cola to find things on the Internet about the company. Being the sixth search result down then makes Killer Coke very visible to consumers of Coca-Cola. The violent, in-your-face titled draws attention to itself and warrants a click. Because this site is so easy to find on the Internet, many people have probably visited it and at the very least been exposed to the negative things it has to say about the Coca-Cola company.

Second, the content on the website is extremely damaging. The first image the visitor sees is fear-inducing and draws one in making them want to know more about why Coca-Cola is connected to murder. Since the mission statement of the site is directly beneath that first image, the visitor is immediately exposed to the violent labor practices Coca-Cola is engaging in in Colombia. As the person scrolls down the content continues to become more and more supportive of a negative portrayal of the company. The archive of “Breaking News” is well over 100 stoires long, and almost all, if not all are from credible sources detailing inappropriate practices and the troubles of Coca-Cola. Finally, the list of petitions against varying practices of the Coca-Cola company adds people power to the negative PR surrounding the Coca-Cola company. The sheer fact that many people have actively rallied against this company makes this bad, violent image more relevant.

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