Coke’s Global Warming Themed Ad Campaign Gets CannedEvery year around this time,  Coca-Cola spruces up its products with Christmas-themed imagery to create a little consumer excitement and–let’s be honest–cash in on the festive Christmas spirit.

Coke products roll out of the factory adorned with images of Santa Claus, snowflakes, Christmas tree ornaments, and/or the Coca-Cola polar bears (who have become a regular, albeit rather corny, staple of Coke’s seasonal marketing campaign).

Coke’s Global Warming Themed Ad Campaign Gets Canned

However, this year Coke thought it would try something different. Instead of placing various Christmas-themed images all over Coca-Cola Classic products, they decided to recolor Coke Classic from red to white.

Why in the world would they do that? The red Coca-Cola Classic packaging is instantly recognizable all over the world. Why disrupt their successful branding?

Two words: global warming.

Coke’s “white can” ad campaign was initiated as a part of Coke’s joint effort with the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness for global warming and its “threat to the polar bears and their Arctic habitat,” writes the Wall Street Journal. Along with changing the Coca-Cola Classic cans from red to white, the company also pledged to contribute up to $3 million to conservation efforts.

In the words of Glenn Beck: “Bullcrap.” Watch Glenn’s take on the whole ordeal:

“The white can resonated with us because it was bold, attention-grabbing” and “reinforced” the campaign theme, says Scott Williamson, a spokesman for the beverage company. Coke’s marketing executives wanted a “disruptive” campaign to get consumers’ attention, he says.

Well, it certainly got consumer’s attention all right. It got it so much attention, in fact, that Coke decided to kill the campaign altogether.

“Our long national nightmare of coke cans looking different than usual has ended: Coca Cola has announced that it will scrap this year’s white holiday-designed cans, and return to ‘time-honored red’ next week. Why? ‘Sacrilege,’” Reports Gawker.

To put it simply, the people who buy and drink Coke hated the “white can” marketing campaign.

Why did customers hate it? Well, they did not dislike it so much for the fact that it attempted to mix political issues with Christmas (or is it the “holidays”?) but because:

1. Some consumers were confusing the packaging with Diet Coke’s extremely similar silver cans

2. Some customers swore that the drink tasted different when in a white can

3. Coke’s most ardent fans decried the change in color “blasphemous” (recall what happened in the 1985 when Coke thought it was a good idea to change the flavor of Coke Classic with New Coke?)

“Coke says it hasn’t tweaked the taste of its cola and that protecting polar bears is a worthwhile initiative,” reports the Journal.

“It recently added a ‘fact sheet’ on its website highlighting how white Coke cans are distinct from silver Diet Coke cans. Among the differences: Regular Coke is labeled ‘Coca-Cola’ and states the calories at the front of the can, while Diet Coke’s holiday can—silver as always—is labeled ‘Diet Coke’ and features snowflakes.” Coke’s Global Warming Themed Ad Campaign Gets Canned

Ah, yes. Clearly different.

“If you put the cans side by side and blink, you might have to take a second look,” said Mr. Rice, who loaded his first Coke truck in 1945. “But I think there’s a distinct difference.”

Here’s a tip for Coca-Cola: don’t mess with a good thing.

(h/t Business Insider)