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Coke India Study

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Coca-Cola India
On August 20, 2003 Sanjiv Gupta, President and CEO of Coca-Cola India, sat in his office contemplating the events of the last two weeks and debating his next move. Sales had dropped by 30-40%1 in only two weeks on the heels of a 75% five-year growth trajectory and 25-30%2 year-to-date growth. Many leading clubs, retailers, restaurants, and college campuses across the country had stopped selling Coca-Cola3 and only six weeks into his new role as CEO, Gupta was embroiled in a crisis that threatened the momentum gained from a highly successful two-year marketing campaign that had given Coca-Cola market leadership over Pepsi. On August 5th, The Center for Science and Environment (CSE), an activist group in India focused on environmental sustainability issues (specifically the effects of industrialization and economic growth) issued a press release stating: "12 major cold drink brands sold in and around Delhi contain a deadly cocktail of pesticide residues" (See Exhibit 1). According to tests conducted by the Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML) of the CSE from April to August, three samples of twelve PepsiCo and Coca-Cola brands from across the city were found to contain pesticide residues surpassing global standards by 30-36 times including lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos (See Exhibit 2). These four pesticides were known to cause cancer, damage to the nervous and reproductive systems, birth defects, and severe disruption of the immune system.4 In reaction to this report, the Indian government banned Coke and Pepsi products in Parliament and state governments launched independent investigations, sending soft drink samples to labs for testing. The Coca-Cola Bottling Company (Coke) stock dipped by five dollars on the New York Stock Exchange from $55 to $50 in the six sessions following the August 5 disclosure, as did shares of Coca-Cola...

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