The Coca Cola Brand and Sustainability

Peter Jones, Daphne Comfort

Abstract


This exploratory paper looks to provide a review of the sustainability themes that have been embedded into the Coca Cola brand and offers some reflections on the relationship between sustainability and branding. The paper begins with an outline of the main characteristics of sustainability and a brief pen picture of The Coca Cola Company. The paper draws its empirical material from 2012/2013 to 2016/2017 sustainability reports posted on one of the company’s corporate websites. The findings reveal a consistent number of themes within the company’s annual sustainability reports including climate protection, water stewardship, packaging and waste management, human and workplace rights, community development and charitable donations, the economic empowerment of women and sustainable agriculture. These issue, are seen to be contributing to the beliefs and values that are integral to the Coca Cola brand. However, the authors argue that a number of issues, can be seen to reduce the integrity and transparency of the sustainability themes within the Coca Cola brand. The authors also suggest that there are wider tensions between sustainability and growth that may threaten the brand. This is an exploratory paper and as such it does not lend itself to definitive managerial implications for The Coca Cola Company. That said it might be seen to provide a lens which other companies can use to reflect on the business benefits and the potential pitfalls in looking to embed sustainability within their brands.

Keywords


brands, sustainability, The Coca Cola Company, reporting process, economic growth

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