Saturday, June 16, 2007

Coca Cola attacks RTM

The Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Co. late this spring launched an all-out assault to brand the Reading Terminal Market market as a Coca Cola fiefdom. It may well be the biggest threat to the market since the bankrupt Reading Railroad sought to shut down the city's historic market nearly 30 years ago.

Here's what RTM Manager Paul Steinke wrote in a June 9 update to market tenants:

In recent weeks representatives of the Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Co. have been discussing various ideas for inserting the Coke brand into individual merchant stores through signage, menu boards, seat cushions, clocks and other means. There is nothing wrong with a beverage company pitching their products and services to a merchant. But we cannot go overborad in allowing them to splash their brand identity all over the Market. We are a collection of small independent businesses and we take that distinction seriously. Let's not permit Coke to seduce us into unduly compromising our integrity. If Coke or any other outside company is talking to you about renovations to your store, please discuss it with me before you agree to any of their proposals. Remember, as Landlord we have the right of refusal of any tenant renovations that we believe may be out of character with the Market, which is a precious and fragile historic resource. We all need to take that role seriously in order to preserve the Market's integrity and character.

That's strong language. And for good reason: plastering the market with the Coke label beyond the usual fountain dispensers and refrigerated cases would turn the market into one gigantic billboard.

I urge all who care about the market to let Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Co. and it's corporate parent, Coca Cola Enterprises, know that such a campaign is unwelcome and unwanted:

Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Co.
Phone: 888.551.6800

Coca Cola Enterprises

Corporate Offices
Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.
2500 Windy Ridge Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30339

Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.
2300 Windy Ridge Parkway, Suite 145 South
Atlanta, GA 30339-5677
888-272-COKE (2653) or

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