Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drinksold in stores, restaurants, and vendingmachinesthroughout the world. The company is located in Atlanta, Georgia, andis often referred to simply as Coke. Originally this product wasinvented as a patentmedicine in the late 19th century by JohnPemberton, but later Coca-Cola was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coke to its dominanceof the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century. As one of the mostvaluable brand names worldwide, Coca-Cola has usually excelled as a businessover its long history. However, in recent decades the company has haddifficulty meeting its financial objectives and has been associated with anumber of ethical crises.
Consequently, most ofthe shareholders have lost trust in the company. Warren Buffet (board memberand strong supporter of and investor in Coca-Cola) is one the example who hasresigned from the board in 2006 after years of frustration over Coca-Cola’sfailure to overcome its challenges. Since the 1990sCoca-Cola has been accused of unethical behaviour in a number of areas,including product safety, anti-competitiveness, racial discrimination, channelstuffing, distributor conflicts, intimidation of union workers, pollution,depletion of natural resources, and health concerns. The company has dealt witha number of these issues, some via private settlements and some via courtbattles, while others remain unresolved. Although its handling of differentethical situations has not always been lauded, Coca-Cola has generallyresponded by seeking to improve its detection and compliance systems.
However,it remains to be seen whether the company can permanently rise above itsethical problems, learn from its mistakes, make necessary changes, avoidfurther problems, and still emerge as a leader among beverage companies.