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Is this a problem for Coca Cola?

Coca colaNot everyone is going to like you. If you are a big B2C business, there is a good likelihood that many people will flat out hate you. And that's ok. 

Coca Cola has billions of fans around the world. Their global market share can be measured in terms of the total human population. Coke sells dozens product that people enjoy. These products generate strong revenues. And when over-consumed by an increasingly sedentary public, many of these products can lead to health issues.

An increasingly health-aware public is speaking out about the dangers of some of Coke's product, with seemingly little effect on popular consumption.

How should Coke reply to this video?

Assessing the Damage

Firstly, let's look at the numbers behind this video and risk it poses to Coke.

Though the publisher has blocked detailed YouTube statistics, we know that this video is 6 months old and has just over 1.25 million views. This video was featured on UpWorthy, but UpWorthy doesn't date their posts so we don't know if this story is fresh. There are 1,388 comments and 4500 up votes to 350 downvotes.

This video may be provocative but it hasn't yet taken the world by storm.

The Risk / Reward of Engagement

People who are strongly concerned about the healthfullness of soft drinks are unlikely to consume Coke's flagship product. No level of Coca Cola engagement will change their minds.

People who are regular consumers are unlikely to change their habits based on one video. They will likely continue to be regular consumers even after seeing this video.

The core risk to Coke is (a) that this video sparks a larger social dialog and (b) that repeated exposure to this video could persuade casual buyers to reconsider purchasing Coke or Coca Cola brand products.

Given the relatively low engagement we have seen around this video, meaningful engagement from Coke would likely invite broader dialog. Coke has little reason to directly or conversationally engage at this point.

Looking to the Future

Whether through this video, or some other rallying cry, the soft drink and snack food industries are going to have to answer to the public regarding the salt, sugar and fat content in their products at some point over the next few years. There is no better time than today to begin telling their side of the story.

Coca Cola, Pepsi, Kraft Foods and the other generally have strong and truthful stories to tell. They sell a variety of products and have all made serious investments in sugar free, low sugar and low calorie offerings. As a profit-seeking business, Coke (as well as others) offer products that people want to buy, and want their purchasing public to remain loyal, healthy consumers for a long time to come. Having worked with or alongside marketers at all three of the above mentioned companies, I can tell you first-hand that they are honest, well meaning individuals.

While I would not advise Coca Cola to reply to the above video in particular, I would urge Coca Cola and others to invest in continued good-will education and communications around product diversity.