Oy vey, did they send Coke PR people to the charm-school of Lizzie Grubman or what? First some fool in Denmark tells a site not to link to coke, and now Coke India are threatening to slap a defamation suit for Rs. 2 Million on a photographer simply because one of his photographs doesn't appeal to Coke.
Bad move, brown sugar water. In India coke already has it's problems with goodwill, especially in the south where the Plachimada Coke-botteling facility was shut down after intense community pressure, but has now been re-opened after the the Kerala High Court now has permitted Coca-Cola to extract up to 500,000 liters of water from the common groundwater resource per day. See "Let Them Drink Coke" at IPnews and google newsclusters about it, or head straight to India Resource for more Coke India news. Apparantly it takes seven times as much water to create one bottle of Coke, a process that can't bode well for areas that already lack, and thus need, water.
So when Sharad Haksar took a quite poetic photograph of colorful pitchers lining up in front of a waterpump, which just happens to be situated near a wall that has a "Drink Coca Cola" ad painted all over it, and to top it all off displayed his art on a billboard, coke wasn't happy at all. The gall of this artist! Coke claims this billboard has done 'incalcuable damage' to their brand and want it withdrawn immediately, they also want "unconditional apology".
An Indian adgrunt who was involved in the process of creating this art-on a billboard says:
The billboard was put in the city of Chennai in south india. Chennai has a huge water problem during summer. We thought we will tell an ironic story by contrasting this with the ubiquitous coke wall painting. Somehow the irony has rubbed coke the wrong way, and now they are up in arms.
They even showed the photograph to senior Coke managers before the release of the billboard. In a case of the left hand doesn't know what the right one does, these managers simply smiled and raised no objections.
Related bad PR for Coke, Indian farmers spray their fields with Coke, as it contains traces of pesticides.