17 Apr 2009

Innocent loses its halo

So the touchy-feely, fluffy-wuffy founders of Innocent "Dwinks" have sold a 20% stake to Coca-Cola and the consumer backlash has begun:

I feel more cheated and duped by this than the bankers. At least Fred Goodwin is honest enough to admit his love of money. At least you know where
you stand with 'hard' capitalism.

It would appear that doing business in "a more enlightened way" means continually lecturing your consumers as to your general ethics and worthiness, before completely selling out to a multinational at the first opportunity [cf Pret].

And our favourite?

I love the comment above: "You can kiss goodbye to this customer". Yeah? Right on. I bet you liked the ad where it showed some 'gwapes' and had the caption "We cwush these" and then a sepia picture of photogenic poor Cuban farmers by a cool 1950s Chevvy truck "But we don't cwush any of these". Anyone - ANYONE - who is not repulsed by that kind of bullshit deserves to be drowned in a bath of Coke and have their head held under by a Niked boot while Coldplay rings out. Good luck to the founders. Cash it in. You won't see me at Fruitstock because I don't purchase my lifestyle. Grow up and Enjoy Coca-Cola.

We say either sell out or don't sell out - there's no half way. Innocent's founders have protested that they were never "anti-big business". Well, their marketing strategy begs to differ. They founded a very successful business on ethical principles and marketed themselves ruthlessly on the back of said principles. By getting into bed with Coke, they can no longer credibly market themselves in this way. We await their next move with interest.


Jonathan said...

I Think that Consumer will forget this story in a few weeks. For example, Ben & Jerry's is a Unilever brand and it doesn't killed the ethical and fun marketing of B&J.

MediaExplorer said...

Thanks for commenting, Jonathan. The difference with B&J was that - as a public company - it had no choice but to sell out to Unilever. Founder Ben Cohen has since said: "What we are learning is, if you are owned by a corporate that, despite whatever words it might say, does not share those values, it's incredibly difficult to maintain those values." I think that this kind of contradiction inevitably trickles down to the consumer. His advice to Innocent that expansion is less important than staying true to the values of the company.

Jonathan said...

@MediaExplorer good point regarding the fact that B&J was a public company. I suppose that Innocent need more money in order to survive to the crisis.

My digital tips to Innocent: use SEO techniques to be sure that Innocent official web site appears first on Google (and not a negative blog post)!