Coke Explains "You Retard" on Cap

Imagine looking at the bottom of a bottle cap and seeing "YOU RETARD." That's what a Canadian girl saw when she opened a bottle of Coke's Vitaminwater.

Unfortunately for Coke, the expression was particularly hurtful because the girl's younger sister has celebral palsy and autism. Their father wrote a letter to Coke explaining the family's view of the "R" word:

"You see, the "R" word is considered a swear word in out [sic] family. We don't use it. We don't tolerate others using it around us. We are over-sensitive, but you would be too if you have Fiona for a daughter."

The Coca-Cola Company responded to ABC News:

"We have spoken to the family to offer our sincerest apologies and to explain the production process to them," Shannon Denny, director of brand communications for Coca-Cola Refreshment Canada, told ABC News. "This is certainly not an excuse in any way for what has occurred. We wanted them to know that this was in no way intentional and was a mistake on our part during the review process. We also wanted to share that the promotion has since been cancelled and we are no longer producing bottles with those caps."

How did the mistake happen? Apparently, the caps were part of a promotion that randomly paired an English word with a French word. "Retard" translated to mean "late" or "delayed" in French. According to a company spokesperson, "The word's English connotation was missed during the review process." 

Discussion Starters:

  • How do you assess Coke's apology and explanation?
  • Read the father's letter. How it is organized? What works well, and what could be improved?