This case presents The Coca-Cola Company’s (Coke’s) involvement in the controversial Georgia voting bills. It can be used to explore brand purpose and activation of purpose through activism. Presenting a chronology of Coke’s statements as the firm responded to consumer and organizational actions, the case enables students to explore the challenges associated with the following: 1) aligning activism with brand purpose, 2) engaging in activism in a way that strengthens the consumer-brand relationship, and 3) aligning activism efforts with business growth. Consequently, the case offers opportunities to dive deeply into brand activism, brand purpose design, and brand activation, as well as corporate response to consumer activism. The case includes proprietary information about Coke’s purpose, beliefs, and values that can provide the basis for a compelling discussion.
This case is well suited for undergraduate, MBA, MBA for executives (EMBA), and Executive Education programs. For undergraduate students, it can be placed in a course in brand management, capstone marketing strategy, management/leadership communication, or management strategy, introducing the concept of aligning brand actions with brand purpose. For MBA/EMBA students, it can be placed in a first-year core marketing course, management communication course, management strategy course, or brand management elective.
In Executive Education programs, the case can help firm leaders proactively think about how to engage in controversial issues that divide consumers, shareholders, and employees. Coke appears to be caught flat-footed, reacting rather than leading from a clear point of view. This case enables executives to think about how they might manage such a situation before it arises.