Monday, June 18, 2007

Coke Wars


From Chris Borgen at Opinio Juris:
I just stumbled across this article that was posted on an ecommerce website eight months ago about strategies for countering bad news from your foreign business operations (like accusations of complicity with torture and murder, etc.). The piece begins like this:
That a labor union at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Columbia was accusing the company of hiring paramilitary groups to torture and assassinate union leaders is just an interesting side note; the real story, as circulated by those in this ecommerce industry, is how Coke turned the tides on its accusers with targeted keyword public relations.
It then goes on to how to affect search results to affect the PR spin. Here's one peice of advice from the article:
1. Keep the story quiet in your home country. Look: Google News results for the term [killer coke] yield 57 links, not all of which actually refer to the lawsuit, even though the suit was filed in 2001. This is good because you don't want too many links to the list of bottling plant union leaders tortured, kidnapped and/or killed.
I guess it has been pretty effective, although Coke was criticized in another article for not being savvy enough in its search engine strategy to tamp down PR on the Colombian case.

In any case, as the original article summed it up:
The lesson here, then, obviously, is when you're beating back an image problem centering on paramilitary assassination accusations, it's important to have your search marketing campaign ducks in a row. The marketing gods at Coca-Cola should have known better.

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