Coke’s Personalized Bottle Promotion Fails

To ring in summer for its consumers, Coca-Cola believed custom bottles would be a good idea. But then, it had to face the Internet. 

As part of the company’s make-your-own-label promotion, customers can write short messages on personalized Coke bottles. Coca-Cola attempted to block a few slurs and trademarks but social media users quickly discovered that there were many loopholes. Not only were the company’s restrictions not comprehensive but they also blocked terms that were not offensive. 

For instance, while “Black Lives Matter” can’t be written, users are allowed to write “White Lives Matter”. While Coca-Cola offered a special rainbow label in light of Pride Month, the term “Gay Pride” is blocked, and “I hate gays” is passable. Although words such as “Hitler” and “Nazi” are banned, users can get past with typing “I am Hitler” or “I am a Nazi”. 

When a blocked word or phrase is entered, a pop-up appears on Coke’s system notifying the user with the following message: “Oops! Looks like the name you requested is not an approved one. Names may not be approved if they’re potentially offensive to other people, trademarked, or celebrity names. We’ve worked hard to get this list right, but sometimes we mess up. If you think this is an error, please contact our Customer Care team. Otherwise, please try again, keep it fun and in the spirit of sharing!”

Speaking to CNN Business, a Coca-Cola spokesperson stated that the company is continuously refining and improving their Share a Coke personalization tool to make sure that it is used solely for its intended purposes. “Words or phrases that have appeared in the preview mode of the tool may not necessarily be approved, but rather are words we have not previously assessed. Actual bottles are not made with words that are inconsistent with the program’s intent. We have clarified in the tool’s preview mode that proposed language may require further review,” they added.