Who knew a simple color change could incite such fury?
Coca-Cola released cans colored white for the holiday season. The cans had red lettering and images of polar bears. This year's design matches symbols from the World Wildlife Fund, highlighting the threat of global warming on polar bears. Coke is contributing $3 million to conservation efforts.
The white can resonated with us because it was bold, attention-grabbing'' and reinforced'' the campaign theme, said Scott Williamson, a spokesman for Coca-Cola.
All seems well and good, right?
Not so fast. Once the holiday cans were released, customers immediately took to online forums to voice their outrage at the change. The main issue? Drinkers thought they had purchased Diet Coke, since the white looked too similar to the silver Diet Coke can.
I purchased three six-packs because I thought they were diet, Gail O'Donnell of Danvers, Massachusetts, told ABC News.
I drank one and wondered why it tasted so good. I didn't look at the can. ... I am a diabetic and can only drink diet sodas. They need to make it so it is not confused.
PEOPLE! Don't be a victim,'' posted an angry customer on Twitter, stating that it was a SHOCK to the palate!''
Customers then began returning opened white cans.
The Wall Street Journal reported that James Ali, owner of the Wall Street Deli in Atlanta, said almost half a dozen customers have returned their opened white cans after realizing they were not drinking diet. Ali let them exchange the drinks for diet.
But, Williamson went on to say that such critics represent a minority. The can has been well received and generated a lot of interest and excitement.
The white cans were scheduled to be on the shelves through February. Coca-Cola, however, has discontinued the line and will be shipping out a new seasonal design, in red, next week. Although the beverage company originally planned to release 1.4 billion white cans, it now states that red cans will be in the majority by Christmas.
Every year Coke tweaks its design to celebrate the holiday season. The Journal cites that Coca-Cola helped to promote the image of Santa in his red suit after launching the Santa design on cans in the 1930s.
However, the main issue here seems to be a fear of change. Customers do not like when Coca Cola messes with the product, like the age-old adage If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Coca-Cola has been barraged by similar outcries in the past. In 1985, the company attempted to replace its prize cola with New Coke. Customers were so displeased that the company had to relaunch the classic just a few weeks later.
Sam Craig, a marketing professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, told The Daily Mail that the message was loud and clear: Don't mess with the brand.
If you want to get your hands on a white can before they vanish into thin air, check out the selection on eBay.
Individuals have already put their cans up for auction on the Web site, calling it a collector's item. Bids for one can range from 99 cents to $4.99. Bids for a whole pack range from $29 to $300.