Have You Been Fooled By a White Coke Can?

Have You Been Fooled By a White Coke Can?

Last week at my monthly department staff meeting, our manager took her soda from her lunch bag, opened the can and realized it was a regular Coke rather than the Diet Coke she had requested. The confusion is apparent if you look at the two cans pictured – they are nearly identical. At a all-day meeting today I ran into the same thing – it is very difficult to distinguish the Coke and Diet Coke cans apart.

Apparently we are not alone, as reported in the Wall Street Journal:

The end is near for a white can that has many Coke drinkers seeing red.

Coca-Cola Co. is switching back to its time-honored red just one month after rolling out its flagship cola in a snow-white can for the holidays. New seasonal cans in red will start shipping by next week, as white cans—initially expected to be in stores through February—make an exit.

While the company has frequently rung in the holiday with special can designs, this was the first time it put regular Coke in a white can. Some consumers complained that it looked confusingly similar to Diet Coke’s silver cans. Others felt that regular Coke tasted different in the white cans. Still others argued that messing with red bordered on sacrilege.

James Ali, who owns Wall Street Deli in an Atlanta food court, said about half a dozen customers have returned opened white cans in recent days after realizing, too late, that they weren’t drinking Diet Coke. He lets them take unopened diet cans without charging them again.

Coca Cola, in an effort to avoid looking like idiots again, spun the news this way:

“The white can resonated with us because it was bold, attention-grabbing” and “reinforced” the campaign theme, says Scott Williamson, a spokesman for the beverage company. Coke’s marketing executives wanted a “disruptive” campaign to get consumers’ attention, he says.

Atlanta-based Coke says that it’s happy with the campaign and that critics of the white can represent a minority. “The can has been well received and generated a lot of interest and excitement,” says Mr. Williamson.

ABC News is reporting on a number of consumers being confused and angry with Coke – and a possible health concern as well:

Some consumers told ABC News today that although they liked the message behind the redesign, they mixed up the white can with Diet Coke.

“We were confused and did think it was diet at first,” Lucie Kamuda McHan commented on Facebook. “I understand why they are doing it, but they still could have kept them red and just painted white polar bears on them. I like the red ones better.”

“I purchased three six-packs because I thought they were diet,” Gail O’Donnell of Danvers, Mass., told ABC News via email. “I drank one and wondered why it tasted so good. I didn’t look at the can. … I am a diabetic and can only drink diet sodas. … They need to make it so it is not confused.”

Have you seen the new cans? What did you think?

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!

2 Comments on "Have You Been Fooled By a White Coke Can?"

  1. “Atlanta-based Coke says that it’s happy with the campaign and that critics of the white can represent a minority. “The can has been well received and generated a lot of interest and excitement,” says Mr. Williamson.”

    That’s pretty much *exactly* what they said during the rising tide of outrage over “New Coke” back in the 80s.  Some day, just for contrast, I’d love to hear a corporate flack come out there and say, “Yeah, yeah; we were *incredibly* stupid.  We thought it would be cool, and we were just totally wrong.  Sorry about that; we’ll fix it as soon as we can.”

    No wonder I’m neither in marketing, nor an executive anywhere.

  2. Thing is – there is no way a reasonable person can look at the two cans and not realize that in an ice bucket at a meeting, or just piled on a table, or taken from a prepared lunch bag while doing others things … they are identical. Sure I can look and see the difference – and yesterday I saw a can and SPECIFICALLY was looking for the difference – but at a casual glance they are the same.

    And yeah, sometimes you just wish they would be honest! But in reality, they are happy for the attention!

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