Clouds, May 2010

Clouds, May 2010

Friday, September 20, 2013

"you late"

Have you heard about this one?

Coca-Cola, the makers & distributors of Vitamin Water, had a recent promotion which involved bilingual word-play on the inside of their bottle caps. One such word combination did not fare so well & actually printed with "YOU RETARD" under the cap.

Just to quote the explanation offered by news coverage:

Representatives for Coca-Cola have since stated that the language inside of the cap was the product of a competition pairing one random English word with a second random French word. In French, 'retard' means 'late' or 'delayed'. 'The word's English connotation was missed during the review process,' said a spokesperson"

A bottle of the Vitamin Water Zero displaying the words "YOU RETARD", was opened by a young lady from Canada, who happens to have a sister with cerebral palsy & autism.

Click here to read an article about the offensive bottle cap.

Naturally the father of the young lady who discovered this bottle cap, composed a complaint letter to Coca-Cola-- including a pledge to boycott their products for life.

So far, Coca-Cola has issued an apology directly to the family & according to online articles, they are also posting an apology via social media.

Well then, I guess we can all move on now. Thank you, Coca-Cola, for issuing a statement & an online apology via Facebook & Twitter.

The thing is I actually understand quite a fair amount about quality control, & the workflow involved in releasing & printing shelf-ready artwork. For nearly ten years I have been part of a global company which specializes in packaging (among other areas of production). Furthermore, for the majority of those ten years I had direct involvement in quality control.

Although Coca-Cola is not one of the brands I worked on, let alone Vitamin Water specifically, it easily could have been. I mean literally-- because there are other divisions of our company under which Coca-Cola has been a client. 

(Just a side note, none of our locations had any involvement whatsoever in the production of these Vitamin Water bottles or bottle caps.)

The American public-- & Canadian public for that matter-- are well aware you are not the first company to make a colossal mistake, & you will not be the last.

I understand your claim about the French meaning of the word "retard". Yes, this word pertains to
lateness, delay, hindrance, hitch, hold up, or lag.

I have a serious problem with the fact that you issued
a statement to explain how "YOU RETARD" was "missed during the review process".
This is what you have offered to the family of the young lady who discovered the bottle cap? An apology, an explanation of the production process, & the reassurance that this was a mistake during the review process?

Even if all parties involved in your "review process" were not thinking about the bottle cap phrase outside of its French context, this still doesn't make sense because it's not grammatically correct. Regardless, I just don't believe you because there are too many check points involved.

Please. Over the years I have proofed everything from shipping containers down to the individual foils that chocolate pieces are wrapped in. I have checked every space, every period, every dotted "i", every apostrophe, & every comma.  

The parties involved who obviously threw a blind eye to this, at least need to own up to the mistake. Please spare us from further insult by claiming it was a genuine oversight.

I guarantee there must have been people involved in the production process who thought this was funny. Would you have issued the same apology if the bottle cap said "YOU NIGGER" or "YOU PUSSY"? I can just guess your hypothetical excuse on the latter.

I have a much better idea than issuing an apologetic statement.

How about a different idea for a new promotion? How about designing bottle wraps to support Autism Speaks®? Or MyChildTM of Out of respect for the Loates family out of Alberta, Canada, those would be my initial suggestions.

On a more personal note, there are also organizations which support education & research funding for Fragile X Syndrome (FXS)... such as the NFXF (National FX Foundation) or FRAXA (Fragile X Research Foundation)....

Fragile X is the most common inherited form of intellectual impairment & the number one known cause of autism.
Approximately one million Americans carry Fragile X, or are at risk for developing a Fragile X-associated Disorder. The research within the FX community even has the potential to benefit people affected by Parkinson's Disease. Furthermore, the gene & protein responsible for causing FXS is not only a leading candidate in the search for the causes of autism... but schizophrenia as well.

You could do a whole friggin campaign (pardon my French) using the NFXF or FRAXA logos... they're colorful & attention-grabbing... really... let me know.

I can put you in touch with the right people to make it happen. Just saying.

We could even go bilingual with this.  


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