For those who get off on schadenfreude, the news that Coca-Cola has withdrawn ‘Sidcup tap water’ over bromate levels will have also brought an I-told-you-so to many minds. You can’t quite unscramble the Dasani label to spell ‘disaster’ but many will see it that way.
For at least one forecourt trader the news had a silver lining. At least now somebody will come and pick up his three dozen bottles of dust-gathering Dasani and give him his money back.
Faruk Divelli, who runs Swan Service Station in Wigan, had been visited by a merchandising team from Coca-Cola bearing crates of the newly-launched Dasani in February.
These merchandising blitzes will be familiar to most retailers. The team brings you the initial stock and after it has sold like the proverbial hotcakes you go and purchase your refills from your local cash and carry.
When Faruk rang me, he still had a case and a half left. Customers were walking past the displays of bottles, which were priced as recommended by Coke at 75p, saying things like, ‘75p! Do me a favour’.
In between the merchandising team’s visit and the customer reaction of course was the publicity. While Coke was pointing to a “massive investment in the brand with a marketing package of over £7m”, the screaming headlines in the nationals were accusing Coca-Cola of repackaging tap water and selling it at a mark-up of 300,000 per cent.
Now that the product has been recalled they have to come and get it. A company spokeswoman told me that this will be swift and efficient. There were 500,000 bottles to be recalled and 85 per cent of this would be completed within 24 hours. Faruk must be in the last 15 per cent because 96 hours later his stock still hadn’t been recalled. If you are overlooked call 08457 102030.