Taking a Stand

Recognizing our duty to strive for greater racial equity in our communities, the company and some of our brands are using our voice and our reach to take a stand. 

Beginning in early June 2020, the company displayed a message on the Times Square digital billboard in New York City saying Together We Must take action to start change, demand justice, admit we can do more, stand as one, right wrongs, listen and create a better future and end racism.  The sentiment was shared in social media as well, and “Together We Must” has become our pledge and our push for our company and our brands.

More recently, Coca‑Cola, Sprite and Peace Tea have begun using their respective assets, voices and reach to advance racial equity. Here are some of the actions they’ve taken. 

Coca‑Cola: ‘Together We Must’

Coca‑Cola partnered with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, The King Center, Civic Dinners and Equitable Dinners to host a series of six virtual dinners to spark social justice conversations and invite Americans to listen, learn, connect and take action.

Together We Must: The Conversation” kicked off in October 2020, and was free and open to the public. Up to 500 people could attend the virtual dinners, which were be hosted by celebrities and influencers including: NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace; Global Thought Leader, Orator, Peace Advocate & CEO of The King Center, Dr. Bernice A. King; Team USA Paralympic Track and Field athlete, Roderick Townsend; Former Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE, American Writer & Journalist, Susan L. Taylor and National Chairman of 100 Black Men of America, Inc., Thomas W. Dortch Jr.

“The concept was inspired by the many times Coca‑Cola has shown up in its history to bring people together to advance civil rights and stand up for what’s right – including convening a desegregated dinner in 1964 for Atlanta’s business community honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize,” said Erica Tuggle, brand director, Coca‑Cola TM. “Coming together over an ice-cold Coca‑Cola opens people up to new ideas and perspectives – which we know is the path to deeper understanding and greater action – so this is very much grounded in our values and who we are as a brand.”

Topics covered a range of issues critical to having open and honest conversations about uncomfortable issues, including allyship, belonging, bridging the racial divide, inclusive culture, and understanding race.

The series was an extension of our “Together We Must” pledge. A $500,000 donation to 100 Black Men of America Inc. supported this commitment.

In July 2020, Coke partnered with Lin-Manuel Miranda and World Central Kitchen (WCK) founder Chef José Andrés ahead of the global premiere of Hamilton on Disney+, donating $1 million to WCK to fight food insecurity around the world and support communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Supporting a Resolution Condemning the Rise in Anti-Asian Bias, Violence and Hatred

Violence and discrimination against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are reiterating our support for equity and equality for all, and specifically condemn any acts of bias, hate and violence targeting the AAPI community, through several actions. In March 2021, we supported a joint resolution from the Board of Directors of the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE) and APIA Scholars condemning the rise in AAPI bias, violence and hatred, seeking an end to racially charged language that has targeted AAPIs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

National ACE seeks the support, allyship, and advocacy of other national and regional corporations and organizations to address all forms of bias and racism that disproportionately and negatively impact diverse communities. The rise in anti-Asian racism and violence is further damaging the small business owners in our community during this global pandemic.

Read our related company statement on recent acts of violence in Atlanta.

Sprite: Create Your Future

Sprite encouraged fans to use their voices at the polls on Nov. 3, 2020 and beyond through the “Create Your Future” voter education program. Six emerging artists created pieces about why voting is important to them. The nonpartisan initiative also has educated Sprite fans on voting rights, the electoral process and why voting is important. 

“Our purpose is to help Black and multicultural youth make their mark on culture. And what better way to do so than by voting,” said Aaliyah Shafiq, Sprite brand group director. “‘Create Your Future” will use the power of creative expression to showcase how personal and pragmatic our reasons for voting can be and inspire our community to embrace and share their own reasons.”

Fans were encouraged to share their reasons for voting on Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube by tagging @Sprite with #CreateYourFuture and visit Sprite.com for more information on the creators and their custom art pieces inspired by each of the creators’ personal reasons to vote. A full marketing campaign supported “Create Your Future” with creative that premiered during the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards in October, as well as online, social, and outdoor, mobile and streaming audio advertising

In the summer of 2020, Sprite launched “The Give Back” program to support the Black community in the fight against racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Give Back” is neither a marketing campaign nor a one-time donation. “We’re in this for the long haul,” Shafiq said. “Lasting change will not happen overnight, so we’re committed to continuing to amplify the voices and efforts of our community, to listen and learn, and to actively help create a better shared future for America.”

Peace Tea: Speak Your Peace

Peace Tea encouraged its fans to “Speak Your Peace” in the 2020 election through a partnership with Vote.org.

“Peace Tea believes in paying it forward, and in the power of kindness and doing the right thing for those around you,” said Danielle Fisher, director, Refreshment Tea Brands, North America Operating Unit. “In the context of this election – which is taking place in what has been such a monumental year – we believe in bringing young people together in a peaceful way to use the power and influence of their voices, individually and collectively. This partnership with Vote.org is a great way to drive political engagement in a nonpartisan way.”

Consumers were able to use their smartphones to scan the sip & scan icon on any can of Peace Tea and unlock a custom mobile landing page powered by Vote.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to simplifying political engagement and increasing voter turnout by offering registration and educational resources.

Eligible voters could check their registration status and register to cast a ballot, as well as access other educational resources and state and local deadlines. Consumers not yet old enough to vote can “pledge to register” to sign up to receive a text on their 18th birthday with details on how to register to vote in their first election.

Lending Our Creative Assets to Promote Early Voting

The Coca‑Cola Company’s internal agency, KO:OP, developed and produced radio, TV, outdoor and social media creative encouraging Georgians to vote early and in person as part of the GaVotingWorks campaign. The company also donated media space to the nonpartisan coalition of Georgia-based companies – which includes AT&T, the Atlanta Hawks, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot, IHG, Mercedes Benz USA, UPS and more – to amplify its messages. 

“GaVotingWorks is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization founded by two women whose mission aligned with the values and desire of our employees to ensure a secure, safe and accessible election experience,” said Heather Bell, who leads the KO:OP team. “Early voting in person was a huge part of that, and Coca‑Cola was excited to be able to use our people and resources to promote that message.” 

Taking a Stand Through Silence

This summer, at the height of criticism against social media platforms over the handling of offensive comments, The Coca‑Cola Company paused all social media activity globally.  This allowed us to take some time to assess our own policies and the effectiveness of the platforms’ policies to determine whether more could be done to rid these sites of racism, violence and other inappropriate comments.

We have been returning to social media in a phased approach, and while we believe there is still more to do, we see most of the platforms taking measures to address hateful activity and harmful content, driving meaningful progress against our partnership plan, and participating actively in critical cross-industry collaboration to ensure high standards.

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