A Case of Consumer Laziness

This week, Coca-Cola announced it will remove off the shelves the white Polar bear cans that it had as a Christmas promotion. The reason? Apparently, too many consumers were confused thinking they were buying cans of Diet Coke. Really?

Let me make full disclosure. I am a Coke fan. Growing up, we were a Pepsi family. Thought it was the best thing ever until sometime around my preteen years, someone gave me a Coke instead of a Pepsi. OH MY GOD! I thought I had tasted pure nirvana. Coke had such a taste and especially the kick from the carbonation that I was completely turned out from that time on. So you see, I love Coke as a consumer and as I came to really love the brand design of Coke as a designer. Reading this news on Yahoo about Coke’s Christmas promotion being pulled really put me in a state of disbelief.

Just last week I picked up two cartons of Coke and they were the white cans. I thought how cool they looked and an innovative break from the traditional red cans. It still was identifiable as a Coke brand—previous campaigns have used the polar bears/ white backgrounds and silver is readily associated with Christmas. As both a designer and consumer, I thought it was a great variation on their look especially as a holiday promotion. Even if I was smacked in the head with a baseball bat, dazed and wobbly could I have thought I just brought cans of Diet Coke. As single can sales, I can’t see how one can mistake it as a Diet Coke. The design is markedly different.

So what does this consumer confusion boil down to? In my opinion, L-A-Z-I-I-N-E-S-S! People apparently have forgotten how to freakin’ read. Diet Coke is clearly labeled as such in a different type treatment than classic Coke cans. Even choosing from just a visual recognition, the designs are also markedly different. So where’s the confusion?

Just over the last five years, society has become increasingly short-sighted and less critical in thinking. We are conditioned to accept 30-second sound bites as hard-hitting news, rambling about nonsense in 140 characters or less and responding to generic visual solutions. We are becoming a society of simpletons and companies who value true brand messaging should not be so easily moved to appease a few dissatisfied consumers. This is not a case of major stupidity like the Tropicana Orange Juice packaging fiasco. Not even in the same league.

As a diehard Coke lover, I say to the folks at Coca-Cola just keep doing the cool promotions you do and don’t let a few knuckleheads throw you off track.

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