Consumer backlash has forced Coca-Cola to freeze production of limited-edition Arctic white cans for its flagship cola, according to the Wall Street Journal. Coke released the cans as part of a campaign to support conservation efforts for polar bear habitats, however, many consumers confused the cans with Diet Coke, while others claimed that the cola tasted different in the new cans. The white cans – originally scheduled to be on store shelves through February 2012 – will be phased out and replaced by red cans with seasonal designs.
Coke said that the company became aware of consumer complaints through Internet and social media posts as well as a few telephone calls to its Atlanta headquarters. Even so, Coke claimed that critics of the white can represent a minority and that it was pleased with the campaign.
“The can has been well received and generated a lot of interest and excitement,” Scott Williamson, a spokesman for Coca-Cola told the Journal.
Coke introduced the white cans at the beginning of November to promote its partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and highlight the threat that global warming poses to polar bears’ Arctic habitat. The can’s design features an all-white panorama with the Coca-Cola logo printed in red and the image of a mother bear and her two cubs making their way across the Arctic. The can also calls on consumers to make a one dollar text donation to the WWF with Coke matching donations up to $1 million. The company made an initial donation of $2 million to support the WWF’s polar bear conservation efforts.
While Coca-Cola often introduces holiday or seasonal specific can designs, the company has never changed the can’s iconic red color. However, Coke marketing executives said that they wanted a “disruptive” campaign to get consumers’ attention and initiate awareness for the cause.
“The white can resonated with us because it was bold, attention-grabbing” and “reinforced” the campaign theme,” Williamson said.
Coke planned to distribute more than 1.4 billion white cans, but the company told the Journal that by Christmas, the majority of Coke will be in red cans and that it is unlikely that the white cans will be available in February when the campaign is scheduled to end.