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Publisher's Summary

Ever since its "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" commercials from the 1970s, Coca-Cola has billed itself as the world's beverage, uniting all colors and cultures in a mutual love of its caramel-sweet sugar water. The formula has worked incredibly well, making it one of the most profitable companies on the planet and Coca-Cola the world's second-most-recognized word after hello. However, as the company expands its reach into both domestic and foreign markets, an increasing number of the world's citizens are finding the taste of Coke more bitter than sweet.
Journalist Michael Blanding's The Coke Machine probes shocking accusations about the company's global impact, including:

Coca-Cola's history of winning at any cost, even if it meant that its franchisees were making deals with the Nazis and Guatemalan paramilitary squads
How Coke has harmed children's health and contributed to an obesity epidemic through exclusive soda contracts in schools
The horrific environmental impact of Coke bottling plants in India and Mexico, where water supplies have been decimated while toxic pollution has escalated
That Coke bottlers stand accused of conspiring with paramilitaries to threaten, kidnap, and murder union leaders in their bottling plants in Colombia
A disturbing portrait drawn from an award-winning journalist's daring, in-depth research, The Coke Machine is the first comprehensive probe of the company and its secret formula for greed.

©2010 Michael Blanding (P)2010 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Put down your soda, read The Coke Machine, and join the global movement to rein in unaccountable corporations.” (Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Brightsided)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Angel D. on 01-17-12


This book broke my heart-- but like all reality checks must be listened to. Not only does he clearly explain why Coke has had the problems they have, but also gives a great primer into what is wrong with American companies. Should be a must read for students in business, politics, marketing and social science (along with a few others). I may use this in my class.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 10-23-11

Say it ain't so

I’ve read the anti-Coke reviews of this book and went in with the sneaky suspicion that the author had an agenda and I began reading with that understanding. I believe anyone could pick any company and write a book about them in a similar style.

I have to say as a marketing researcher myself, I found the history of the company extremely compelling and appreciate their marketing and branding from their earliest days. I found it clever the way they thought to get people to drink more Coke. . . bigger bottles. Seems so simple now but back then it was an innovation and now look at the sizes of the sodas we drink today--Big Gulps, Super Big Gulps, etc. It is reminiscent of how toothpaste manufactures got people to use more toothpaste. Think about it, how do you do that? Bigger holes in the tubes! Marketing genius.

So while I enjoyed all of that, I have to say I—with relief, ultimately agree with my fellow Goodreaders and can sum this up by saying, Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be Coke (or any soda for that matter) drinkers for which there are many reasons. The first being health. I still cannot believe that researchers cannot definitively prove there is nothing more than correlation (not causation) between high fructose corn syrup and obesity and/or diabetes. In my mind, the stuff is poison and it is in everything.

Second, I now feel they abuse marketing and show little ethics in this regard. Research shows that infants begin to recognize brands between 6 and 18 months of age. By age 3, children begin requesting brands. Coke manipulates this to their advantage through such marketing campaigns as the cute polar bears and Santa. For the 12 and under cohort, they target such shows as Spongebob Squarepants and for the teen group, they use product placement on shows such as American Idol as well as targeted advertising. While believing in capitalism and the goal of being an industry leader, you must do it responsibly. I don’t think that Coke does this.

Then there are the Coke wars in Mexico and Colombia. We exploit these markets by manufacturing our Coke there where the people become obese through drinking it as Coke drains their water supplies leaving little clean water to drink. The result is the population has to drink the cheap alternative Coke as a water substitute. Coke also overlooks union battles in these countries. These battles ultimately lead to murder in many cases for which Coke assumes no responsibility. Ironically, these two countries ship us their “Coke” but in powered form (cocaine). While one is legal and the other not, the result is unhealthy for all.

It kills me to believe this about one of my favorite brands. While I don’t think I can boycott their products as they are just too ubiquitous, I will severely limit my use of them in my household. C’mon Coke to what’s right and become a good corporate citizen.

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6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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