In an attempt to offer holiday greetings, Coca-Cola riled up consumers in Russia and Ukraine with a map over the disputed territory of Crimea. The soft drink company first incited outrage in Russia when it posted a map of the country saying, “Celebrate winter holidays from Moscow to Vladivostok” that did not include the peninsula.
Although Crimea is an autonomous region in southern Ukraine, the territory remains a contentious issue for the two countries, which are involved in an ongoing crisis. Russia attempted to annex the area in March 2014, but Ukraine and most of the rest of the world consider the annexation illegitimate. However, people in the region maintain strong loyalties to Russia.
— RT (@RT_com) January 5, 2016
As such, when the map appeared on a Russian social media site, users demanded Coca-Cola take down the "incomplete map," reported the Guardian. The account deleted the map and issued an apology. “We apologize. The map has been corrected. Hope for understanding,” the company wrote.
The post was accompanied with a new map -- this time one that included the Kuril Islands, a western Pacific archipelago that is disputed between Russia and Japan. The second map was later deleted, the Telegraph reported.
The company's headquarters in Atlanta issued an apology following the firestorm.
"The Coca-Cola Russia team had a stylized map of Russia created as part of its Christmas campaign. The agency that created the map later made changes without our knowledge or approval," the company said. "We, as a company, do not take political positions unrelated to our business, and we apologize for the post, which we have removed."