The Coca-Cola Company
For more than a century, the Coca-Cola Company has been a leader in everything from sales, marketing/advertising, and most recently ethical issues. The company has seen its fair share of lawsuits from competitors, employees, and customers alike. In the beginning of 2013, Coca-Cola’s Chairman and CEO, Muhtar Kent, issued a statement that relayed Coca-Cola’s renewed efforts to “be guided by their established standards of corporate governance and ethics.” (Coca-Cola Company, 2013, para. 1) His stance on corporate responsibility, ethics, and compliance while well-laid out, were not always the determining factor of how the company did its business. In 1996, this was all a different story and a somewhat seemingly downward spiral of unethical events began to happen at Coca-Cola.
The beginning of Coca Cola’s ethical issues started in 1999 when several hundred people in Europe were sickened after consuming allegedly contaminated Coke products. It took 14 days for then Chairman to take notice and issue statement in response to the problem. And in the response they never actually took responsibility for their actions but addressed the fact their quality was paramount and that it couldn’t be the cause of the possible contamination. Coke passed the blame to just about everyone during this debacle. During this controversy, the main ethical issue was the lack of social responsibility shown by Coca-Cola. They didn’t officially apologize for the alleged contamination issue for seven months. This showed the consumers, especially the EU, that they really didn’t not value or respect the consumers; both affected and unaffected. One of the most effective solutions would be that Coke take on all publicity issues head-on and not wait so long to let their consumers know that they are handling whatever the issue is, in this case let the consumers know that the contamination issue is under control.
At the same time in Europe, Coca-Cola began skirting and crossing the line of the EU’s antitrust laws which led to sanctions against the company. Concerned that Coke's tactics were an abuse of its dominant position, which tethered around 40%, the European Commission began an investigation in 1999 into Coca-Cola and its bottlers in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Britain. European Union investigators had accused the world's largest soft drink maker and its partners of blocking competitors' attempts to get a toehold in the market by giving retailers incentives in return for prominent shelf space. (FoxNews, 2004, para 3) Coke’s strong arm tactics led to the ethical issue of violating the EU’s antitrust laws.
In 2006, troubles with the distributors began to rise....