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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Coca-Cola is running a stealth advertising campaign.

Stealth? Yes, it’s a nationwide product promotion that’s being run below the public radar! Why would a corporation as ad-dependent as Coke spend big bucks on advertising that it doesn’t want consumers to notice? Shhhh — because the campaign is a surreptitious ploy to enlist restaurants in a marketing conspiracy that targets you, your children, and — of course — your wallet.

Coke calls its covert gambit “Cap the Tap,” urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: “Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain.” Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, “by teaching [your] crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages.”

The program provides a guide for restaurant managers who agree to direct Coke’s sneak attack on customers. It also supplies a handy backroom poster to remind waitstaff “when and how to suggestively sell beverages,” plus a participant’s guide to put “suggestive selling” foremost in mind as staff confronts the enemy… uh, I mean customers. Tactics include outflanking those recalcitrant customers who insist on water. Just switch the sales pitch to bottled water — remember, Coca-Cola also owns Dasani, one of the top-selling brands of bottled water in the U.S.

Early in its Cap the Tap scheme, the beverage behemoth offered two incentive programs for waitstaff: “Suggest More and Score” and “Get Your Fill.” Both were competitions meant to spur servers to push more Coke on American restaurant-goers.

To add a splash of bitter irony to this campaign, Coke’s CEO recently declared that “obesity is today’s most challenging health issue,” adding piously that solving it requires “all of us working together and doing our part.” Really — by selling more Coke? That’s proof that hypocrisy is now the official rocket fuel of corporate profits.

4 Responses to Coke’s Conspiracy Against Tap Water

  1. I was surprised to find that no consumer law forces restaurants to serve tap water. It is simply a “standard” in many countries (not just the U.S.) for tap water to be served, like cutlery and napkins, I suppose. That makes this custom fair game, especially for an advertising Goliath like Coke. This company has no scruples whatsoever about giving anything in the world sex appeal in order to market their product, even perfectly innocent ice cubes (tap water!) floating above Coke’s logo on the frosty glass of not-tap-water featured in the photo above. In this case, beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. I am reminded of a very old toast celebrated in a justly famous poem:

    Wine comes in at the mouth.
    Love comes in at the eye.
    I life this glass to my lips.
    I look at you, and I sigh.

    Coke might try to take over the world, but other beverages with far more cache already have that purchase.

  2. Want the best way to fight this? When the waitress/waiter asks you what you want to drink, say Pepsi or Doctor Pepper. When they say they don’t serve those, only Coke products, ask for water instead.

  3. When the path ahead is charted by the scouts who tread it first, it becomes easier for the rest of us who may not have been so lucky or energetic.

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