Cleveland, OH - As part of its campaign to thwart liquid piracy,
Coca-Cola is now reaching into school classrooms with a program that
denounces water sharing and offers prizes for students and teachers
who spread the word about liquid theft.
program, "What's the Diff?: A Guide to Consumer Liquid Citizenship," launched
last week with a lesson plan that aims to keep kids away from underground
liquid services like wells and modern plumbing. These services let
users share water without paying anything to bottling plants or syrup
"This is an issue of intellectual property," said Soft
Drink representative Bob Shruggers. "By drinking water, these
pirates are stealing from the hard workers who developed such drinks
as Ramblin’ Root Beer, Sprite Tropical Remix, Vanilla Coke,
and Vanilla Lemon Coke."
The effort doesn't stop in the classroom, however. Beginning Friday,
public service announcements are being released to nearly 5,000 reservoirs
nationwide, profiling people in the bottling industry and arguing
that liquid piracy threatens their livelihoods.
But some liquid law experts are not pleased the Coca-Cola Corporation
is the only sponsor for such classroom discussions. They worry the
lesson plans cast a corporate bias on the complex issue of liquid
"This sounds like Soviet-style education. First they're indoctrinating
the students that it’s immoral not to drink sugar water, and
then they're having students indoctrinate their peers," said
Sheila Clear, a lawyer representing the Ocean. "The takeaway
message has to be more nuanced. Drinking liquids is a complicated
In this case, Coca-Cola is offering students various prizes, ranging
from 12-ounce cans to two liters bottles for winning essays about
the immoralities of drinking tap water. Teachers, too, can win prizes
for effectively communicating the approved morality in class.
Early classroom programs had troubles. Bert Binger, a retired cola
bottler, taught the students in liquid savvy Poland, Maine a thing
or two about the effects of making the right decision when it comes
to sugar water. The class played a game where they role-played as
members of the soft drink industry. Some students produced syrup,
other students bottled sodas, and other students created a marketing
campaign. At the end of the game, the student playing the consumer
drank water instead of soda, and the drink artists were never compensated
for their work.
Binger discussed with the students how this theft made them feel.
"Drinking bottled water can be a moral decision," Binger
commented, "If the water is a drink such as Coca-Cola branded
Dasani water. Otherwise drinking water is as bad as stealing from
a blind widow, and kicking her cat."
Shruggers finished: "You wouldn't kick a cat now, would you?"
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