Coca Cola's campaign not political

HARARE - Coca-Cola Central Africa shot down a report yesterday that said its ‘‘Crazy for Good’’ drive was a political campaign.
The statement from the world’s largest soft drink maker came in response to a story in the State-controlled media that claimed questions have been raised over Coca-Cola in Zimbabwe’s “Crazy for Good’’ campaign that featured cans with an open palm symbol — a campaign symbol for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.

The report that the company’s ‘‘High Five Everybody’’ campaign had endorsed Tsvangirai’s MDC, published four days ago, forced the world’s largest beverage company to respond.

Coke later issued a statement disputing the report, and claiming Coca-Cola’s Crazy for Good campaign is a global brand campaign whose aim was to inspire the desire in people to take part in random acts of kindness, celebrate other people in an optimistic, easy and simple way and spread the optimism.

It is unclear who had raised questions about the campaign by Coca-Cola, which is also the world’s most valuable brand, with a portfolio featuring $15 billion brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coke Zero, vitamin water, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle.

“The Crazy for Good campaign is, therefore, not part of any political campaign or affiliation,” Coke said in its statement.

“Against this background, the cans bearing the open palm that have been sold in Zimbabwe were produced in and for the South African market. Their presence in Zimbabwe supermarket shelves was a result of a supply gap in Zimbabwe that resulted in importation of cans from South Africa. To take into account the local dynamics, cans being produced by Delta Beverages in Zimbabwe carry only the Zimbabwe national flag.”

Delta Corp Ltd is a Zimbabwe-based company principally involved in the manufacture and trade of beverages, principally Coke and other “sparkling beverages.”

Coke, the world’s largest soft-drinks maker, is targeting the rapid rise of African economies and the continent’s quickly growing middle class.

In terms of growth, the company’s rate of expansion is outpacing that of gross domestic product in most of its southern African markets, and has been looking to strengthen its non-carbonated beverage businesses, such as juices and water.

The company sees big growth potential in Zimbabwe, which is recovering from an economic recession four years after the formation of a unity government that ended years of hyper-inflation.

“The Coca-Cola System in Zimbabwe is committed to investing and contributing to Zimbabwe’s economic development,” Coke’s statement said.

“As a demonstration of this commitment, our System, which has been investing in Zimbabwe for over 65 years has over the past three years since 2010, invested more than $150 million in new production lines, new product innovations, new cold drink equipment, new distribution infrastructure and advanced training for over 3 000 employees.” - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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