You might think that The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) would embrace this development. After all, Classic sales are down %10 (since 2000) and the TCCC’s share of the industry is at an eight-year low. Consumers are so passionate about “hecho en Mexico” Coke that they are prepared to pay a premium, as much as $.25 a bottle. In an industry that moves heaven and earth to create (or protect) a two-penny margin, this is a staggering development, and very good news. No?
No. TCCC is now condemning Coke importation “as the work of bootleggers.”
TCCC is acting like administrators of the Roman empire who have discovered that they must now contend with a small group of enthusiasts in Gaul who worship Rome and Romanness with new intensity. The Roman decision: put them down! Because the passion of the zealot is dangerous even if it happens, for the moment, to run in your direction. It’s the principle of the thing. “We don’t want your zeal,” says the administrator, “we just want your obedience.”
Actually, there is a better way of putting this. TCCC is now acting like the Catholic church confronted by a cult of Christians who forsake orthodoxy for their own special brand of religous fervor. “No, no, no,” says the Church. It is the Church that decides what devotion means and what belief shall be. It’s Rome that determines the forms and vessels of religious inspiration. The zealots can just cut it out. We decide. Not them.
It is easy to be snide here. And we must remember that TCCC’s problem is the problem of every brand. All of us need to grasp that we are not the arbiters of the brand and that we must defer to to the consumer even when he or she takes leave of our brand orthodoxy and starts making things up. We aren’t Rome any longer, not the empire, not the church. We are shepherds.
[via Johnnie Moore]