The end is near for a white can that has many Coke drinkers seeing red.
Coca-Cola Co. is switching back to its time-honored red just one month after rolling out its flagship cola in a snow-white can for the holidays. New seasonal cans in red will start shipping by next week, as white cans—initially expected to be in stores through February—make an exit.
While the company has frequently rung in the holiday with special can designs, this was the first time it put regular Coke in a white can. Some consumers complained that it looked confusingly similar to Diet Coke’s silver cans. Others felt that regular Coke tasted different in the white cans. Still others argued that messing with red bordered on sacrilege.
James Ali, who owns Wall Street Deli in an Atlanta food court, said about half a dozen customers have returned opened white cans in recent days after realizing, too late, that they weren’t drinking Diet Coke. He lets them take unopened diet cans without charging them again.
Coke regularly tweaks its packaging to create buzz and has a long tradition of holiday marketing, and says it helped shape the image of Santa Claus in his red suit with its 1930s advertising. Other Christmases past have featured snowflakes and polar bears, which appear on this season’s cans.
Coke says this year’s campaign is part of a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to highlight global warming’s threat to bears’ Arctic habitat. Coke is contributing up to $3 million to conservation efforts.