Olly Wehring

Not all's fair in love and (cola) war

By: Olly Wehring - 10 July 2006 11:13

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It’s pleasing to see that a little honour still exists in today’s dog-eat-dog corporate world.

PepsiCo has won well-deserved praise for its refusal to accept alleged secret information about Coca-Cola, and even told its arch-rival about the plot.

Late last week, it emerged that three people in the US - including a Coke employee - had been charged with fraud along with stealing and selling trade secrets, which included a sample of a new drink being developed by Coke. The trio tried to sell the information in deals worth US$1.5m. Coke learned of the theft and the attempted sale of the “very detailed and confidential information” from Pepsi - and alerted the FBI.

Pepsi could have taken the information and used it to gain an edge over the nearest competitor. After all, the two companies have been in fierce competition for well over a century, a battle that has become all the more intense as consumers shy away of fizzy drinks in favour of healthier beverages.

Admittedly, there may have been a degree of self-interest involved on Pepsi’s part. If Pepsi was caught either accepting the information or not reporting the approach, legal repercussions and/or bad publicity would have landed at the company’s door.

However, it was satisfying to hear that the message from Pepsi was: we play hard - but we play fair.

And let us be clear - there is no end in sight to ‘The Cola Wars’.

Pepsi has been quick to take a swipe at Coke’s launch of Coca-Cola Zero in the UK, embarking on an aggressive ad campaign for Pepsi Max. The campaign’s strapline: “Max Taste, Zero Hype” leaves little doubt that the rivalry is alive and kicking.

For more on the fraud charges, click here. For more on Pepsi’s dig at Coca-Cola Zero, click here.

Comments on this blog post

A good article indeed! Perhaps the right time to recall similar incidences taken place in the past.


Sampath Iyengar, Malawi

Good article, but not the first time something like this has happened. When I was with Pepsi at World HQ in Purchase, I know first hand of a colleague of mine who contacted Coke claiming he had confidential information to sell to Coke. This was 1974, or 1975. Coke immediately called Pepsi. The trap was set for the exchange of information and money at the library in White Plains, N Y, and he was immediately arrested. Nice to know that this type of activity works both ways.


Andy Salis, United States

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