Jane makes no bones about our age-- we're baby boomers, through and through. In fact, our heart hearkens back to the days of early cinema, when the giants in the movie business discovered stars such as Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth twirling on a swivel stool at a soda shoppe, sipping ice cream sodas through a straw. (We know these are urban legends, but they live on fondly in memory.)
We bring up those good old days to segue into the reason for our post today. We would like to applaud Coca-Cola, the soft drink company that has been chilling in refrigerators for more than a century now, and which-- while reported in the news to be struggling-- is still a favorite of ours! A visit to their website reveals some interesting historical facts-- for example, how many readers know that Coke advertising helped create the "modern image of Santa Claus?" Or, that Coke was "the first soft drink consumed in space?"
The reason this is noteworthy to Jane, and to you, dear reader, is because Coca-Cola is an American-bred company, with global offices-- that despite its power and reach, it is not immune to public opinion. Public opinion--word of mouth--or, as we like to say, word of mouse--wins out over even the most expensive advertising campaign every time because, in the end, it's the PEOPLE (you and I, dear reader) who decide whether or not to buy a product or service.
A recent article in Diversity Inc. (free subscription needed) noted that Coca-Cola is asking "a federal court for extended court-ordered supervision—something akin to a parolee seeking additional visits with his parole officer" in response to a 2001 Class Action suit brought against the company by African Americans "alleging discrimination in pay and promotions."
CEO Neville Isdell, new to the company in 2004, has reportedly spoken often "about the need to restore a winning culture" to the company. To do so, he is requesting the court extend their court-ordered supervision through 2006.
Jane is not reporting on the class action suit. Nor are we commenting on the alleged discrimination. This post is not to remark on the news stories we read saying Coke's attempt to reinvent itself in the new millenium is not working (says who?). What we do feel confident saying is that stories such as this one, reported in Diversity Inc., a trusted source on this growing issue in corporate America, reflect well upon Coke.
Women are forgiving creatures. We will certainly squint at what we perceive as your mistakes. We will not hesitate to complain about customer service. And as the prime spenders in this country, we will always take full responsibility for our consumer role -- which means: we're always watching. If you're called on the carpet, turn the disaster into a plus by first admitting your mistake, and then announcing the fix.
Look to companies like Coke-- ones who turn a bad into a good by doing the right thing-- as examples of how to deal with issues that could cause major problems but may also be the means to rethink your Dick and Jane approach. Marketing to women requires forward thinking-- with a touch of historical nostalgia thrown in. Those are the kinds of companies we like to do business with.
What's not to like about that?