Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hecho en Mexico

In the middle ages the Catholic Church constantly had to decide how to handle grassroots devotion that claimed a greater authenticity than its own. Some of these off-message brand evangelists were barbecued, whilst others (the Franciscans for example) were skillfully co-opted into the service of re-authenticating corporate orthodoxy.

According to the WSJ Coca-Cola faces a similar challenge now. Many consumers down south are willing to pay the premium price of $0.25 a bottle for Mexican Coke, a regional variant perceived to have retained many of the nostalgic, hometown cultural references surrendered by the much-diminished Classic Coke brand. (It is also made with cane sugar rather than corn syrup.)

With market share at an 8-year low, there may well be executives in Atlanta that strongly favour co-opting this devotion, but the company is leaning towards the barbecue option largely because of the highly territorial nature of the bottling and distribution network.

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