Douglas Andrews / May 4, 2021

Woke Coke Gets a Rude Awakening

The iconic company hears from the Right and reconsiders its efforts to appease the Left.

Coke is wet, lightly caffeinated, and its two-liter bottle makes for a great geyser, but that’s about the extent of its benefits. At least in our eyes. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a beverage that’ll fatten you up and rot your teeth, and whose sanctimonious CEO will insult your intelligence, it’s hard to beat The Real Thing.

Long one of the world’s most powerful brands, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola has done plenty of damage to that brand of late. Coke, in recent years, has gone woke, and the folks seem to be fed up. A recent Rasmussen Reports survey, for example, found that while only 25% say Coca-Cola’s stand against Georgia’s new voting reform law makes them more likely to buy Coke, some 37% of American adults say they’re less likely to purchase its products.

Who can blame them? Here’s what Coke’s British CEO, James Quincey, had to say about an American state’s duly passed voting reform law: “I want to be crystal clear. The Coca-Cola Company does not support this legislation, as it makes it harder for people to vote, not easier.”

Have a Coke and a sneer.

Here’s a question for Quincey: Should the purpose of voting reform legislation be to make casting a ballot as easy as possible, or to make it as honest as possible? We’d argue the latter, because the former only invites more cheating. And the American people seem to agree. According to a recent poll, a whopping 77% of voters believe “a valid form of state or federally issued photo identification to prove U.S. citizenship” should be required for casting a vote. Even 60% of Democrats are in favor of photo ID.

So Woke Coke’s efforts to appease the Angry Left have clearly backfired. But what came first for Coke — going woke or going broke?

FrontPage Mag’s Daniel Greenfield has a theory: “Brands don’t go broke because they get woke, they go woke because they’re going broke, and don’t know how to stop the slow but steady collapse of their business. … But it’s those old, familiar brands that go woke because their products and business models are dated. Virtue signaling is their way of adapting to a changing market without really innovating.”

Patriot Post guest columnist Tom Aquinas (who happens to teach at a business school) sees the same trend: Coke is “more concerned with its distorted notion of social justice and less concerned about why so few are drinking its product. Maybe it’s trying to deflect criticism for being such a badly run company. But with each generation, its fate becomes more clearly sealed. This company is a dead company walking. How do I know? I teach college students and virtually none of them are drinking this product.”

What’s more, Coke seems to have placed a higher priority on globalism than on business competence. As Greenfield notes, “[Coke] has a British CEO who pledged allegiance at Davos to a ‘new social contract’ and an ‘economy that works for everyone.’ He took over from the company’s previous Turkish CEO, and the Turkish CEO’s South African predecessor. The head of Coca Cola in North America is a Honduran who came out of its Latin American division.”

We wonder: Is it xenophobic to ask what’s wrong with picking an occasional American to lead an American company?

In any case, Coke may finally be getting the message. As National Review’s Dan McLaughlin writes, “Conservatives who are tempted to despair over the abrupt shift of major corporations into engines of [the] left-wing culture war might want to take a look at Coca-Cola. Recent developments suggest that Coke is rethinking woke.”

Having suspended its advertising on Facebook and Instagram for their refusal to censor then-President Donald Trump, having been embarrassed by leaked slides from a training program that told Coke employees to “try to be less white,” and having been outed for instituting strict requirements for hiring lawyers based on their race, Coke began to feel the heat from a normally quiet Right. This included Trump and Senator Rand Paul calling for a boycott of Coke, and Senator Ted Cruz tweeting, “I wonder who the largest institutional purchasers of Coca-Cola are? Do they all agree with WokeCoke radical politics?”

The result was a rather remarkable about-face.

“We believe the best way to make progress now is for everyone to come together to listen, respectfully share concerns and collaborate on a path forward,” said Coke in a statement. “We remain open to productive conversations with advocacy groups and lawmakers who may have differing views. It’s time to find common ground. In the end, we all want the same thing — free and fair elections, the cornerstone of our democracy.”

It’s a republic, not a democracy. But, hey, it’s a start.

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