Though American news coverage of the fight between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea has waned, Russia’s annexation of the territory is still a sore subject on the other side of the world—and one that Coca-Cola has somehow gotten itself wrapped up in. Someone should have reminded Coke to never talk about religion or politics.
It began innocently enough when the international soda company tried to wish Russians a happy New Year on social media. For the background of an image included in the post, Coca-Cola used a map of Russia—but one that didn’t include Crimea. This choice, intentional or not, drew a lot of ire from Russians and prompted Coca-Cola to replace the map with a new one that included the disputed region. That choice, of course, drew condemnation from the Ukraine. Smartly, at that point, Coca-Cola decided to get out of the map game altogether.
However, at least one Russian leader saw Coca-Cola’s mistake as an opportunity to pounce on the brand. According to RT, MP Oleg Mikheyev of the center-left party Fair Russia asked prosecutors to deem Coca-Cola an “undesirable organization,” which would prevent Russians from dealing with the soda company. Unfortunately for Mikheyev, that label can’t be applied to commercial organizations under the current law, but hey, outrage is outrage.
Coca-Cola has apologized to both sides over the incident. But Mikheyev, who has campaigned against junk food and sugary drinks in the past, doesn’t seem to want to let Coke off the hook. “When first they published an ad showing Russia without one of its integral parts it could be considered a mistake. But when Coca-Cola started altering the map to meet some political demands the case gained a political background,” he was quoted as saying.
Your move, Coke. Maybe you can win him back with some of those polar bear ads.