Cage fighting: tensions bubble over in South African soda stoush

  • Fizzy Fit
  • June 21, 2012
  • StopPress Team
Cage fighting: tensions bubble over in South African soda stoush

Last year, we wrote a story about SodaStream’s The Cage, a global PR campaign that aimed to draw attention to the effects of packaged soft drinks on the environment. But the campaign has earned the ire of one of its targets, Coca-Cola, with the South African outpost issuing a cease and desist letter to SodaStream demanding its bottles be removed from The Cage at the Johannesburg airport because it claims to own the used bottles.

SodaStream is refusing to back down. And it appears to be relishing the extra publicity the campaign has received as a result.

“We think it is absolutely ridiculous,” says SodaStream chief executive Daniel Birnbaum. “If they claim to have rights to their garbage, then they should truly own their garbage, and clean it up. Instead of getting a thank you for cleaning up, we’re getting a lawyer’s letter.”

Chris Bremner, SodaStream NZ’s marketing manager agrees and says The Cage, which, in New Zealand, holds 2,000 used cans and bottles, visually represents the average amount used by a Kiwi household in a three-year period and travelled the country last summer to deliver a bit of shock and awe, is a key platform to communicate to consumers that there is actually a smarter alternative to pre-packaged soft drinks.

“We will certainly continue to use The Cage’ as a way to promote the protection of New Zealand’s clean, green image,” he says.

Here’s what Coca-Cola South Africa, which obviously isn’t too keen on the implication that it causes environmental damage, told Forbes:

“Coca-Cola South Africa has registered its complaint in the interest of protecting Coca-Cola trademarks against any infringements in the South African market. Coca-Cola is a leader in recycling and sustainable packaging as demonstrated by our aggressive goal to collect the equivalent of 50 percent of the bottles and cans we sell globally by 2015.

“Coca-Cola South Africa is a member and founder of PETCO, South Africa’s PET recycling company, and is involved in the collection and responsible disposal of our PET plastic bottle post-consumer consumption. It is also a partner of Collect-a-Can, which has one of the highest beverage can recovery rates in the world. In 2011, Coca-Cola South Africa launched PlantBottle packaging, which is PET plastic made from up to 30 percent plant material and remains 100% recyclable.”

Everyone loves a good David and Goliath battle, but, just like the recent Sanitarium vs. Habitual Fix escapade, which saw the sandwich chain change the name of one of its sandwiches to the ‘Original Beepmite sandwich’ and ‘apologise’ after Sanitarium threatened legal action, taking action against the little guy just seems to put more wind in their sails.

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