Earlier this month, I noticed quite a few websites picking up stories about Coca-Cola Co. planning to start selling drinks in biodegradable plastic bags.
But the stories turned out to be wrong.
A website, Just-drinks.com, first exposed the hoax, with a story posted July 10, “Coca-Cola Co. exposes plastic bag as fake.”
The story quoted a Coke official who said the firm was not the source of the video, which was being shared pretty extensively on social media sites.
If you take a look at the video, I think it should have been obvious that this wasn't the “real thing.” It clearly was not the typical polished, professional advertisement that we expect from Coke.
The opening sequence, with a shot of quickly repeating, Coke-related icons, seemed to repeat endlessly. A real Coca-Cola ad could have easily found more than a few seconds worth of graphics. The video of people walking around drinking Coke out of sandwich bags looked pretty silly. The shots of young people playing soccer looked like it was taken at a random pick-up game.
Even the voice-over sounds like it was done by a guy in his basement.
After Coke announced it was not responsible for the video, I noticed a rush by some media that had covered the fake story — just based on the video — to remove it from their websites.
The funny thing is after I wrote about the hoax in “The Plastics Blog,” most of the feedback I got from plastics industry readers was that maybe Coke should try selling single-serve drinks packaged in plastic bags.
In fact, a few even thought that Coke might be pulling a double-reverse on us: Maybe it really did create the video, to see how consumers would respond to the idea, and now it was pulling back.
Sort of like the whole “New Coke” thing, but without spending millions of dollars on what would turn out to be a failed project.
One reader wanted to know, who would go through the effort to make a phony video about a new kind of packaging, and why?
“Is this like a ‘White House leak' where the president wants to see how an idea will be received without actually saying it himself? If it bombs, he is well removed from the idea, but if it's a winner, then he will quickly advance the idea himself.”
Another thought there was merit behind the idea.
“A lot of websites, including many environmental and green blogs, picked up the story. It seemed like everyone loved the idea of a biodegradable bottle bag — that was, until we all found out it was a fake.”
I'm still not convinced. First, if Coke was just floating the idea, why pull back if the response was largely positive?
Second, what about carbonation? Coke isn't like milk, or water — there's a reason it's in PET. And finally, what about the consumer experience? If you bought Coke in a flimsy bag, would you really drink the whole thing without ever putting it down?
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”