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.

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.”

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:

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.

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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