Coca-Cola and Corporate Social Responsibility

This post by professor Tom Kelleher originally appeared on Oxford Presents on Oct. 19, 2015.

Coca-Cola’s position atop the branding world hasn’t come easily, and its future there isn’t guaranteed. In 2013, Coca-Cola slipped to third place behind Apple and Google on Interbrand’s list of best global brands.

In recent years sugary drinks have been identified as culprits in the fight against obesity. Now being the number one soda brand in the world carries with it the risk of also being labeled as public enemy number one in the fight against obesity, particularly in America. How can a company that relies on sales of sugary drinks that lead to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay make a compelling case that it also cares deeply about the health of consumers?

Elon University student and PRSSA President Heather Harder won the 2014 Arthur W. Page Society case study competition with her analysis of how Coca-Cola has managed its precarious position. She summarized the company’s strategy as one of corporate social responsibility. “By acknowledging the obesity issue and spending millions of dollars on anti-obesity efforts, Coca-Cola is demonstrating corporate social responsibility — if not in its products, then at least in its community involvement.”

Read More