Monday, January 12, 2009

Will Simon Berry Win Over Coca-Cola?

I like Coca-Cola. I have always liked Coke. I know people who work at the Coke bottling plant; so, I almost feel like family. I was delighted to find out the latest endeavor Coca-Cola is considering.

Simon Berry is a thinker, a ponderer, and a doer when the answer reveals itself to him. Simon has been pondering the irony of our being able to ship a Coke just about anywhere on earth; but, our inability to ship inexpensive medications for diarrhea and other illnesses that claim children’s lives to these same parts of the world.

Simon has an idea. He has approached Coca-Cola with a life-saving plan putting Coke’s huge and extensive distribution system to use with just a small tweak. Simon is suggesting that the Coca-Cola Company, using his distribution network, deliver life-saving medications and information in developing countries. One of his suggestions is the dedication of one compartment in every 10 crates as “the life-saving compartment”. Joyously, Coca-Cola is listening.

Image Credit: Tielmann, on Flickr

Obviously, it is neither Coke’s job nor the job of its employees to deliver or distribute medications. Some sort of distribution plan must be made. WaterAid quickly points out that distributing rehydration salts for treating diarrhea is one of the least cost-effective methods to save lives. They would prefer educating people about hygiene (est. cost of $3/day per disability-adjusted life year) and installing proper sanitation ($11/day). Both extremely worthwhile goals to strive for which I’m sure we all pray will eventually come to fruition.

However, you can only work with what you have and progress is worth fighting for. When dissents attack his idea, Simon’s answer is: “Coca-cola reaches people. If people see the "life-saving" compartment, they will ask questions. Questions like: "How do I use these rehydrating salts?" and "How can I improve hygiene or sanitation to avoid disabling and life-threatening diseases?"

Simon Berry's campaign is picking up supporters through a Facebook Coca-Cola Campaign group, media awards and a BBC interview. And Coca-Cola is listening, really listening.

According to Inhabitat, "Simon was invited by Salvatore Gabola, Coca-Cola’s Global Head of Stakeholder Relations, to a meeting to discuss the idea further at Coca-Cola’s European HQ in Brussels."

Good on you, Simon Berry!


kathi said...

I joined nearly 8000 others on the Facebook site for Coke to help the world's children. Big numbers on a site like that will get their attention.

This country's largest advertising buyers (McDonalds, etc.) pay the #1 guy on YouTube to make video raps for them. I think his name is Remy, maybe for his videos - some of which are hysterical. Anyway, the big companies are really paying attention to what is happening online and the youth market who 'lives' there.

s1m0n said...

Hi Pippa - thanks for bringing the ColaLife campaign to the attention of your readers . . . numbers matter!
Since the Brussels trip you mention I have been to a meeting in Tanzania to discuss the idea with local NGOs and Coca-Cola staff. We are getting there . . . . slowly! You can follow progress on the ColaLife Blog: