There may not be a more American brand than the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, but the company carrying that brand is a lot less red, white, and blue than you think.
It isn’t run by an American, or at least not by someone who was born here. James Quincey lives in Atlanta, but he was born in London. Quincey lived for a while in New Hampshire as a little kid, as his father lectured at Dartmouth, but he grew up and went to college in Birmingham.
Not the one in Alabama.
Quincey got his start in business working at Bain & Company, the Boston-based consulting firm, in 1993. By 1996, he had a job at Coca-Cola. Coke moved him around from Latin America to Europe, finally naming him chief operating officer in 2015 and then CEO the next year.
Quincey was the one who came up with the idea of selling Coke in smaller packages as a response to politicians attacking its product as harmful.
“We know that consumers are looking for less sugar, so we’re expanding the selection of low- and no-calorie products, in addition to working on more than 200 reformulation initiatives worldwide,” Quincey said back in 2015. “We will continue to honor our great history built on more than 130 years of proud traditions, but at the same time we must continue to follow our consumers and customers to where they take us.”
Since then, a review of the press releases sent out by Quincey’s communications department indicates he thinks the consumers and customers are taking the company hard Left. It’s difficult to discern whether one is looking at Coke’s website or the Center for American Progress sometimes; Coke seems a lot more interested in “sustainability” and climate change than making beverages people want. They’re even very proud of having pioneered a prototype for a paper bottle (as though paper straws aren’t lousy enough).
It’s been an item of faith for a very long time that Coca-Cola was the choice of America’s conservatives when it comes to soda drinks; Pepsi was more the Democrat brand. But since Quincey took over the company, what’s clear is that while Republicans might like Coke the feeling is most certainly not mutual.
They’re chasing the woke consumer. They don’t give a damn about the rest of us. Or, more to the point, they might be happy to take our money, but as far as they’re concerned we can drive off a cliff so long as there’s a 12-pack of Coke in the trunk.
If there was any question about this, two incidents of recent vintage removed it.
The first was when video went public of diversity seminars Coke put on for its employees in which the message was unbridled critical race theory. A slide that appeared in one such seminar, which Coke denied was part of its training program but didn’t deny employees were shown, exhorted employees to “try to be less white.”
Conciliatory statements by Coke don’t cut it. There will be a time to find “common ground” with these people, but this isn’t that time.
That set off a firestorm, and it should have scared Quincey and his management-team minions straight. But when the state of Georgia passed what seems to be a fairly mild election reform package in an effort to squelch some of the ballot harvesting and election irregularities that have negatively affected public perception of election integrity in that state, it was clear another lesson was needed.
Quincey, in a CNBC interview, pontificated in a way almost designed to infuriate the maximum number of people. He said the law “does not promote principles we have stood for in Georgia around broad access to voting, around voter convenience, about ensuring election integrity.”
That brought Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp out of his shell. Kemp, reviled by many Trump supporters for a perceived weak position on the integrity of the state’s elections in the 2020 cycle, signed the reform bill and then took a shot at Coca-Cola, Delta, and the other woke corporations who trashed it. He said they were “intimidated” by Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden.
In Delta’s case Kemp is clearly correct. In the case of Quincey’s Coke, not so much.
Coca-Cola is a left-wing company. It may have been a left-wing company before James Quincey brought his Euro sensibilities to the C-suite, but it certainly is one now.
But after Kemp took a swing at Coke and lots of conservatives — including Donald Trump, Rand Paul, and even the squirrelly Pat Toomey — reacted to Quincey’s partisan advocacy in a corporate cloak by intensifying calls for a boycott, it appears the company would now like to sue for peace:
Coca-Cola, whose CEO denounced the Georgia voting bill, is now striking a conciliatory tone after coming under pressure from conservatives.
The soda giant, which is based in Atlanta, was absent from a list of more than 500 corporations and individuals that signed a statement condemning any election legislation that would “restrict” voters from having “an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.” The missive was placed as a two-page Wednesday ad in the New York Times and Washington Post, with the effort being organized by the Black Economic Alliance.
Coca-Cola said in a statement to the Washington Examiner on Wednesday that the company “had not seen the letter” initiated by the alliance but is “certainly open to hearing their perspective.” It said it has supported the right to vote and that it will assess how to support voting rights.
“We believe the best way to make progress now is for everyone to come together to listen, respectfully share concerns and collaborate on a path forward. We remain open to productive conversations with advocacy groups and lawmakers who may have differing views,” the company said. “It’s time to find common ground. In the end, we all want the same thing — free and fair elections, the cornerstone of our democracy.”
Coca-Cola’s Wednesday remarks are notably less confrontational than its previous statements on the Georgia voting law.
To be fair, as in the case of Delta Airlines, Coke’s griping about the Georgia election reform law really intensified after threats of boycotts by Black Lives Matter–affiliated groups. But unlike Delta, Coke has a very woke track record.
Accordingly, conciliatory statements by Coke don’t cut it. There will be a time to find “common ground” with these people, but this isn’t that time.
Corporations willing to throw their weight around in the political arena need to be made to understand that it’s a nasty, bloody, unprofitable place where people lose their careers all the time.
And this is a perfect opportunity to teach that lesson.
Remember your Saul Alinsky, whose Rules for Radicals is the essential how-to book for the destruction of our civil society the Left has practiced particularly in the last 15 to 20 years. One of his most important rules was Rule No. 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
James Quincey is the target. He needs to be canceled.
Coca-Cola should be the subject of the most hostile economic action possible — including boycotts, shorts, vexatious health-hazard class action lawsuits, distributorship revolts, you name it — until James Quincey is forced out of his job as CEO. When he’s gone, when that scalp is taken, when our picked, frozen, personalized, and polarized target is obliterated, then we can make “common ground.”
And the other James Quinceys out there, like Delta’s wimpy Ed Bastian, might just become frightened enough of the Right that they’d like to abstain from partisan advocacy altogether in hopes of keeping their filthy-rich jobs and perks, and we can start putting paid to this idiotic notion of “woke corporatism.”
Maybe Quincey’s replacement might even agree to put real sugar, rather than that high-fructose corn syrup, back into Coke Classic. That would be a real victory worth celebrating.
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