November 11, 2010
Coke is the most valuable brand in
history and "Coca-Cola" is the world's second-most recognized word
But is the Coca-Cola Company
really practicing what they preach?
Or is the real story of Coke one
of clever marketing and public relations covering up a
history of environmental harm, violence, union-busting, and
The Coke Machine - The Dirty Truth Behind the
World's Favorite Soft Drink by Michael Blanding
is a controversial new book that answers this question.
journalist specializing in social activism, who still has a glass of
Coke from time to time, Blanding traveled the globe seeking out the
truth about its most recognized brand.
Some of Blanding's findings include:
Coke's unique distribution
system allows it to avoid responsibility for poor labor
standards in bottling plants but allows the company to
continue to reap the profits
Coke uses "public relations
propaganda" to convince consumers that it is an
"environmental company" when really it is linked to
pollution, water shortages, and disease
Coke is so integrated into the
culture of the Chiapas highlands in Mexico that it is used
in religious ceremonies because followers believe the drink
will help you directly commune with God
Coke has historical ties to the
Nazis, including how it profited from sales of a
in Nazi Germany called 'Fanta' even as the U.S. military was
funding the expansion of its bottling plants overseas
It's cheaper and easier to buy
Coke in some third world countries than it is to access
The company has taken filtered
tap water and branded it as
Dasani, to create an image of
purity despite studies showing bottled water is no better,
and sometimes worse for you than tap (at its launch in
England, Dasani was found to have more chemicals than the
Coke's failure to intervene as
paramilitary forces infiltrated bottling plants in South
killed eight Coke workers and kidnapped,
tortured, or threatened dozens of others-one of whom says
that "drinking Coke is like drinking the blood of the
The Coke Machine explores allegations of
underhanded legal tactics, backroom deals, and indisputably shady
behavior from the highest echelons of the company.
Blanding's investigative work into Coke
took him from one side of the globe to the other-talking to workers,
politicians, activists, lawyers, and Coke executives.
He found that Coke's biggest enemy has
been the social activism of parent groups, university students,
union workers, and non-profit organizations that have stood up and
demanded that the company be accountable for their 'benevolent' image.
Coke, however, has made an art of
denying, simplifying, distracting and ultimately disregarding any
mention of social wrong-doing.
Through on-site reporting, never-before-exposed documents, and
candid interviews, The Coke Machine is a probing look into the
excesses of power obtained through and maintained by any means
necessary. For the first time ever, The Coke Machine gives an
insider's look into how Coke rose to power and the corporate
playbook that helps it stay there.
The Coke Machine is a book rich in
facts, intrigue and insider knowledge.
In August 2009, Neville Isdell, then CEO of Coca-Cola, shared
a power point with his shareholders showing Mexico consumed some 600
cups of Coke products per person per year, and the US had 400, while
the global average languished at 100.
"What an amazing opportunity!" he
World domination is still the goal.
As another of
Coke's CEO's once put it, Coca-Cola envisions a world where the
C in the kitchen faucet doesn't stand for "cold." Michael Blanding is an award-winning
magazine writer covering social justice, politics, and travel.
A firm believer in the credo that
journalism should "afflict the comfortable and comfort the
afflicted," he has written for publications including,
Still Drinking Coca Cola? Watch This!
January 22, 2008