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Communication in BusinessBusiness Proposal

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Coca Cola

Coca-Cola: Corporate Social Responsibility Through Nutrition and Exercise

Coca-Cola bears one of the most recognizable corporate logos in the history of modern business and the world's largest soft-drink maker. (CSRWire, 1) Both domestically and internationally, it is not only the leading soft-drink brand in existence, it is also in a pantheon of corporate entities whose consumer appeal and sustained viability have made them cultural institutions as well. And for a long time, Coke's status as the lone great power in the global struggle for soda-supremacy seemed unimpeachable. But the late 1990's, a time both of burgeoning global-economic upheaval and challenging corporate recalibration, presented Coke with a similar problem to that facing many marquis American mega-corps. A splintering market at home, and a broadly deteriorated market internationally began to render, in the late 1990s, what had prior been considered the unthinkable. Coca-Cola was no longer untouchable. This would prove particularly so in light of what is today the growing din of hostility toward high-sugar soft drinks which may threaten the health of young drinker and may also associate with a sedentary lifestyle prominent amongst youth. The result is a need for Coca-Cola to continue to market the product and brand which made it so successful while establishing a socially conscious image that counters negative impressions concerning its nutritional hazards and the long-term health hazards there associated.

As our research indicates, this issue is both one of social responsibility and one of economic imperative. In America, sales appear to be hitting a plateau. The apparent culprits are the over-saturation of the market and the newfound fierceness of some of the competition. In particular, Pepsi has made itself an undeniable force in the marketplace, competing at every level with an upstart intensity and that underlined its dynamic distinction from the older and more traditional Coca-Cola Co. This economic imperative should be sufficient to encourage us to take aggressive action in redefining our image according to that which best serves our cross-section of stakeholders. Namely, this account proposes the adoption of clearly delineated ways of supporting health, nutrition and exercise programs as a supplement to the marketing of our products.

These ambitions require consideration of the major stakeholders in the proposed set of socially responsible initiatives. First and foremost among stakeholders, is the consumer. The consumer is a broad and sweeping term used to describe the buyers of Coca-Cola and potential buyers of Coca-Cola whose interests are impacted insofar as some indications are that the high sugar contact of our products may have negative long-term health impacts for this stakeholder. Another key stakeholder is the board of trustees and the executive body which will ultimately make the decisions guiding Coca-Cola through any such change. Indeed, the ambition to do social good is not sufficient to justify a major strategic shift absent clear business imperatives and economic rationales. A final stakeholder to consider is the labor body which makes up Coca-Cola's production operation, and which often conducts its responsibilities overseas from the international headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Coca-Cola's operation is defined by its trademark Coca-Cola Classic beverage. However, it does boast a highly diversified product line today. According to CSRWire (2010), "he Company markets four of the world's top five nonalcoholic sparkling brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite, and a wide range of other beverages, including diet and light beverages, waters, juices and juice drinks, teas, coffees, energy and sports drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate exceeding 1.4 billion servings each day." (CSRWire, 1) This denotes that our own line of products offers a way to focus on more socially conscious brand presentation.

One alternative strategy, that addresses both the demands placed on the company by greater market saturation and the ethical questions raised above, is an emphasis on beverages that are healthier supplements to soft-drink habits. Coke has already put resources into developing a line of fruit drinks and water. Accordingly, our internal research reports that "we provide product and package variety across our markets. We have more than 750 low? And no-calorie beverages in our portfolio, and we continue to introduce new low? And no-calorie options, as well as nutritionally fortified products, each year." (CCC1, 13)

Perhaps by dramatically increasing the availability of some of these healthier alternatives in the same venues as projected for use in the sale of Coke (i.e. schools, gas-pumps, etc.), and integrating this increase with a blitzkrieg marketing strategy centered around America's perpetual craze with health, fitness and dieting, Coca-Cola could justifiably increase the consumption of Coke products. This is a strategy which should be seen as compelling not just to the public stakeholder in the consuming public but also to those in the executive boardrooms at Coca-Cola. Indeed, as with improving its nutritional image, boosting its stock-price is similarly a matter of diversifying. Beyond the above mentioned focus, Coke should also take a note from Pepsi and pursue integrative strategies such as contracts with correlative consumer items like snack foods, party goods and pop-culture merchandising, though with a specific emphasis on more nutritional consumption opportunities. This will not only increase the kind of visibility necessary to retain Coke's status as the most identifiable corporate logo in the business. It will also augment the value of Coca-Cola's social image by counteracting the inextricable association between Coca-Cola and such health-related conditions as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Proper nutritional label and health facts on the packaging of Coca-Cola products is also a key aspect of this initiative. (CCC1, 14)

Another way for Coca-Cola to project itself as a socially conscious corporate entity is through the incorporation of physical activity, exercise and healthy youth competition, using its sponsorship as a way to positively affiliate with activities that improve long-term health prospects. (CCC1, 13) a template may be drawn on the national scale according to the program piloted in Alabama in 2009. Here, the philanthropic branch of the Coca-Cola company announced that it was seeking proposals from Alabama-based non-profit groups that could help the state's youths gain access to more physically active lifestyles. Accordingly, a Press Release by the Coca-Cola Company (CCC) reports that proposals have been sought "from nonprofit organizations that are working to change the behavior of sedentary youth between the ages of 12 and 18. The program must include an element of nutritional education, and must be in operation at least four weeks between June 1, 2009 and September 30, 2009." (CCC, 1)

This program is a pilot, the successes and shortcomings of which can be used to model a nationalized program in which these non-profit agencies become avenues through which Coca-Cola can better help to improve health indicators amongst youth. Based on the declared policy from Coca-Cola itself, it is clear that this fulfills a major social ambition while simultaneously responding to the complaints of some of our harshest critics. Accordingly, the Press Release denoted above reports that "at the Coca-Cola Company, we are committed to improving the quality of life in the communities where we do business . . . we have a long tradition of supporting physical activity and nutrition education programs around the world. Our goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of Alabama's youth by helping to address declining daily physical activity." (CCC, 1)

This also provides a template for the best way to characterize the ambitions of a program which, internally, is acknowledged as a way of countering the perceived ill-effects of our soft-drink. In the public sphere, characterization would center on our interest in reversing social trends and patterns far broader than our company. (CCC, 1) by promoting nutritional education and direct participation in physical activities through neutral non-profit agencies, Coca-Cola has the capacity to attach itself to the solution… [END OF PREVIEW]

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