Who pulls the strings?

"Public relations is the string that connects the puppets (businesses) to the masters (consumers)..."

All too often I read how businesses dictate what consumers want, but in my opinion, it’s the other way around. If the consumer doesn’t like something it goes kaput. Public relations is the string that connects the puppets (businesses) to the masters (consumers) and ensures there is no miscommunication.

Some businesses overestimate their power and act on their own accord, but the consumer is always there to put them back in their rightful place. Even corporate giants like the Coca-Cola Company are subject to such scrutiny. This past winter, they learned their lesson when they introduced a special “arctic home” can to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund.

You’re probably wondering what kind of heartless fiends don’t care for polar bears. It wasn’t the cause that bummed customers out–it was the cans that were the problem.

Consumers felt the specialty cans were too similar to Diet Coke can’s in their appearance. They took to social media to voice their confusion and frustration. Some people even complained that the new packaging affected the flavor of the coke.

ABC’s Consumer Report covered the debacle and even listed a few other instances where brands had to backtrack after consumer criticism. The Coca-Cola company finally conceded to consumer outrage and agreed to put red cans back on the shelves once the white cans were out of stock. If I recall from my toddler days back in ’93, Pepsi made a similar mistake with “Crystal Pepsi,” a colorless Pepsi product. Now I think the Coke critics were bring a bit nit-picky, but colorless Pepsi? That’s just unnatural!

What do you think, are the consumers or the businesses in control? And how does public relations fit into this whole mix?

I can only speculate how Coca Cola could have handled things differently… Perhaps a few more focus groups would have given them the insight to axe the polar cans from the start.

Sorry Coke, but you might want to get a hanky–this one’s a real tear-jerker.

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