Coca-Cola in row over bottles at eco-exhibition

TRADEMARK: Coca-Cola bottles need to be recycled for environmental protection.
TRADEMARK: Coca-Cola bottles need to be recycled for environmental protection.

SOFT drink giant Coca-Cola has demanded the removal of an environmental exhibition featuring its used bottles currently on display at OR Tambo International Airport.

The Coca-Cola Company US has sent a strongly worded letter to rival company Sodastream SA complaining that their recycling exhibition undermines their products and demanding it be removed.

Sodastream SA's "help free the world from bottles eco-exhibit" is a glass cage filled with hundred bottles and is on display in the airport's domestic departures terminal, as well as other airports, venues and functions in at least 20 countries around the world.

Sourced from local rubbish dump, the bottles form part of the global environmental awareness campaign.

But this is seemingly the first instance in which Coca-Cola has complained about the campaign.

Discernible labels on the bottles in the exhibition include Coca-Cola and Sprite. Under the banner "Your home soda factory", the exhibition urges consumers to "SAVE the world from 5078 bottles & cans per family, every three years."

Sodastream called Coca-Cola's demands absurd and said they would not succumb to bullying. Coca-Cola has demanded the installation be removed and threatened legal action.

Sodastream SA spokesman Riana Greenblo said: "The exhibit called The Cage, has successfully been erected at high-profile events and venues around the world, most notably at the Chicago International Housewares Show in the US."

She added that actress Susan Sarandon had endorsed the launch in Chicago.

Lawyers representing the Coca-Cola Company US accused Sodastream SA of "disparaging our client's products - by implication - at least."

Attorney Kelly Thompson demanded that Sodastream "immediately remove the advertising display and any similar displays from wherever they may appear."

But Greenblo said they would not comply.

"Sodastream SA believes that Coca-Cola's demand is absolutely absurd and have no intention of complying," he said.

"We will resist any challenge to our environmental brand position.

"I can only assume that Coca-Cola thinks that, because Sodastream is small in South Africa, we are easier to bully. Its difficult to imagine that Coca-Cola headquarters is unaware of Sodastream doing exactly the same marketing in at least 20 locations around the world.

"To date, we have had no resistance from Coca-Cola internationally."

But Coca-Cola SA spokesman Zipporah Maubane said: "As Coca-Cola SA, our interest is to protect all trademarks registered to Coca-Cola in this country against any infringements in the SA markets."

She said the company's target was to recover half of the bottles and cans it sold annually and worldwide by 2015.

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