Coca-Cola's Belgian Crisis - The Public Relations Fiasco
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.
"Our product is quite healthy. Fluid replenishment is a key to health. Coca-Cola does a great service because it encourages people to take in more and more liquids."
- Michael Douglas Ivester, Coca-Cola's Chairman and CEO in 1997.
Children at six schools in Belgium had complained of headache, nausea, vomiting and shivering after drinking Coca-Cola's beverages, leading to their hospitalisation. Most of them reported an 'unusual odour' and an 'off-taste' in the drink.
The entire episode left more than 240 Belgians and French, mostly school children, ill after drinking Coke produced at Antwerp and Dunkirk. The company had to assure its British customers that the products made in its UK factories were safe.
1] Founded in 1886, Atlanta, the US- based Coca-Cola is the world's leading manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of non-alcoholic beverages, concentrates and syrups. The company has operations in over 200 countries across the world. For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2003, Coca-Cola generated revenues of US$ 21.044 bn and a net income of US$ 4.347 bn.
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