Monday, December 06, 2004

Pepsi and Coke India take legal (and PR) hit

In August 2003, a study was published in India which claimed that Pepsi and Coke manufactured and distributed in India contained pesticides.

The companies reacted aggressively, and even led the government to examine the issue. It was seriously damaging for the companies, and the newspapers and television debated the topic endlessly. The topic slowly faded away, but now it seems that it did not quite die. (Heard about Coke and Pepsi as real pesticides? Read about it here.)

Today, the Supreme Court directed both Pepsi and Coke to print the exact amount of pesticide content on their products. Not only has the court order brought the topic back to public memory, that it came while the Court dismissed petitions by the two companies against a lower court order asking them to do the same.

After surviving last year's controversies on the same, this is another disaster for Coke and Pepsi. Even the suggestion that their colas contain minimal (and legal) amounts of pesticide can damage marketing efforts, and having to print it on the bottles and cans is nothing less than a royal mess.

A tough battle for their PR agencies is on the cards. That deafening sound we just heard was a freight train ploughing through the Cola executives Christmas vacation plans.

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