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Russia, Ukraine See Red Over Coca-Cola Message

Coca-Cola Crimea
Coca-Cola Crimea
Russia, Ukraine See Red Over Coca-Cola Message
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The red-and-white logo for Coca-Cola is quickly recognized by people around the world.

It uses those colors in advertising and promotional messages.

Here’s a message about “Back to the Future Day” in October 2015. It uses those iconic colors and logo.

Here’s another promotion around Daylight Saving Time.

So when Coca-Cola posted a message to VKontakte, Russia’s most popular social network, it included a map of Russia. And it was only expecting good will.

But the map did not include the contested Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea. It also did not include two islands.

And Coca-Cola’s social media followers let the company know.

Russia says the Crimean peninsula belongs to it. Russians complained that the map was not accurate.

So Coca-Cola re-drew the map, including the missing islands and peninsula. The company wrote “The map has been corrected! We hope you will understand,” along with an apology.

But then people from Ukraine got upset. Ukraine says the Crimean peninsula belongs to it. Ukrainians wrote posts on social media with the hashtag #BanCocaCola.

So many people were upset about this, that the Ukraine embassy in Washington discussed the map with Coca-Cola and the State Department.

The conversation elicited an official apology letter from Coca-Cola’s chief public affairs officer.

“We clearly missed the mark with this holiday greeting,” it said.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. His report was based on stories in The New York Times and The Guardian. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

contest – v. to challenge, question, push back, disagree

elicit – v. to get a response

peninsula – n. a piece of land that is almost entirely surrounded by water and is attached to a larger land area

complain – v. to say or write that you are unhappy, sick, uncomfortable, etc., or that you do not like something

iconic – adj. something widely known

logo – n. a symbol that is used to identify a company and that appears on its products