Does the End of White Coke Cans Mean the End of Cause Marketing on Packaging? Um...No.

The cause marketing world is all a-Twitter with the news that Coke is retracting its first-ever mostly-white cans meant to call attention to the plight of ursas maritimus. (Collector alert!) Apparently, too many consumers took the special packaging of polar bears gamboling across the tundra for Diet Coke, which, in fact, comes in silver cans.

I don’t have the energy to assign blame, ask if Coke over-reacted, wonder about the institutional competence of Coke’s marketing team, or worry about what this means to the future of cause marketing’s place on packaging.

That’s because cause marketing’s place on packaging is long since ensured, as the ad at the left from Fast Company helps demonstrate.

Buy a specially-marked bottle of Belvedere vodka and LVMH, the brand’s owner, will donate 50% of profits to RED’s Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. LVMH is the acronym for the French luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, (whose CEO is Bernard Arnault, Europe’s richest person, FYI.)

The packaging uses RED’s trademark brackets, which frame Belweder, the Polish presidential palace. As a non-drinker, I can’t knowledgeably comment about Belvedere’s qualities, but this Christmas/New Year’s promotion strikes me as being well played. The label makes smart use of RED’s branding, Usher is a good choice as pitch man, there's a QR code in the ad, and Bono assures us that the Global Fund is making real headway in Africa, just like the quote attributed to Usher says.

Of course all bets are off if Diet Coke drinkers mistake it for a bottle of their favorite cola. ;).

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