Coca-Cola may have gone “Woka-Cola,” according to a consumer group — but that doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned slave labor.
In a new commercial released on Thursday, Consumers’ Research called out the soda giant for a whole range of things, including the fact their product contributes to diabetes. However, the group made plenty of hay off of the dichotomy between the company’s political posturing and the realities of how it conducts its business.
“Today, we are launching AlwaysWokaCola.com and the accompanying ads as a satirical reminder to Coke to focus on their consumers, not woke politicians,” said Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers’ Research, in a statement to Fox Business.
“The company has taken its eye off the well-being of the customer,” he said.
“Their products continue to contribute significantly to childhood obesity, they have sourced sugar from companies in China reportedly using forced labor, and they have such poor quality control that racist directives, like’ ‘be less white’ are included in staff trainings.”
“Be less white” refers to an online seminar available via LinkedIn, one which Coca-Cola promoted. One of the slides implored people to “try to be less white.” Coca-Cola said the slides involved “are not part of the company’s learning curriculum.” And yet, they’re accusing conservatives of being the racist ones.
This wasn’t Coke’s only attempt to seem more woke than it really was, particularly with its opposition to the election integrity bill in its home state of Georgia.
— The Coca-Cola Co. (@CocaColaCo) March 26, 2021
Wouldn’t you know it, even though they’re against a bill that would require ID for voting, those who attended Coke’s 2020 shareholder meeting needed to show ID to enter. Talk about the new Jim Crow.
This paled in comparison to the company’s hypocrisy on the issue of China, however.
In November, The New York Times reported that Coca-Cola was one of a number of multinational corporate behemoths lobbying against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which would prevent the importation of goods made by Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, many of whom constitute a modern slave labor force at the command of the Chinese Communist Party.
“Xinjiang produces vast amounts of raw materials like cotton, coal, sugar, tomatoes and polysilicon, and supplies workers for China’s apparel and footwear factories,” The Times reported.
“Human rights groups and news reports have linked many multinational companies to suppliers there, including tying Coca-Cola to sugar sourced from Xinjiang, and documenting Uighur workers in a factory in Qingdao that makes Nike shoes.”
At the time, Coca-Cola said it “strictly prohibits any type of forced labor in our supply chain” and argued that a sugar-producing facility in Xinjiang had “successfully completed an audit in 2019.”
However, Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said companies like Coke were lobbying against the bill because “it’s going to impact their supply chains and make it harder for them to profit off of this forced labor.”
“If they’re not using [forced labor], it wouldn’t be a problem,” Wexton told CBC Radio last December.
“But, you know, it appears that they are using it. And if they are auditing their supply chains the way they’re supposed to, this legislation wouldn’t be an issue.”
Hild told Fox Business he hopes Consumers’ Research’s ad “will serve to amplify the voice of consumers fed up with how the company is failing them and as a warning to Coke and other companies.”
“Any corporation who decides to distract from their misdeeds by taking radical positions on political and social issues that are unrelated to their business to garner positive praise from woke politicians and press is on notice, it’s not going to work,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Consumers’ Research has targeted Coca-Cola with an advertisement, either. In May, the company hit Coke with an ad that ripped them, along with American Airlines and Nike, for their hypocritical stance on the voting legislation in Georgia.
At the time, Coke issued a patronizing passive-aggressive statement that seemed to indicate bringing up inconvenient facts like these didn’t constitute “productive conversations.”
“We respect everyone’s right to raise their concerns and express their views, but we also believe the best way to make progress now is for us all to come together to listen, respectfully share concerns and collaborate on a path forward,” Coca-Cola said in a statement at the time. “We remain open to productive conversations with groups who may have differing views.”
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