The Coca-Cola Company Case


COMM 642

Assignment 4_The Coca-Cola Company Case

Crisis management in Belgium: the case of Coca-Cola

       This case talked about the crisis management about the biggest beverage company in the world—The Coca-Cola Company. It was happened inBelgiumin June, 1999. A large number of students were poisoning, because of drinking coca-cola. After a week, the Belgian Health Ministry ordered Coca-Cola trade marked products be withdrawn from the Belgian market, and suggested people ofBelgiumnot to drink any products of this company simultaneously. Subsequently, many countries in Europe also banned or restricted the sale of Coca-Cola products, such asFrance,Luxembourgand The Netherlands.


Headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company was set up inAtlanta,Georgia. It is the biggest company which produces soft drink concentrates and syrups in the world. Coca-Cola Company provides one of the most popular soft drinks to the consumers all over the world. As time goes on, CCC sets up many subsidiaries around the world, for instance, Europe andAsia. However,Belgiumoccurred several crises in the end of 1990s, for example, mad cow disease and tainted animal feed. At that time, meats, eggs and dairy products were withdrawn from markets. Through these problems, consumers and government were all panic. As a result of smelling an irregular taste and odor in bottled products of Coca-Cola, there was a mass of people suffering headaches, stomach-aches, shivering and nausea.


When this crisis took place, the Belgian Health Ministry asked Coca-Cola Company must be withdrawn any products of it from the Belgian market. Although CCC replied and withdrawn its products from the markets, it could not predict the importance of mad cow disease and tainted animal feed in advance. What’s more, how to report this crisis to the publics was a serious problem, because Coca-Cola had a large world’s market, it would influence the sale of other markets. In addition, Coca- Cola needed to survey why people suffered these diseases through drinking the products of Coca-Cola. From this crisis, CCC lost the good reputation and ran off a large number of consumers inEurope. Then, CCC should offer more measures to win the better position back.

Situation (SWOT) Analysis:

The strength of Coca-Cola was that it had a long history, and it had a good reputation in the world. Actually, its products had high quality; at the same time, it owned a powerful sale team and creativity. By comparison, as a result of a large company, CCC was difficult to control the relevant authorities so that did not find the crisis of mad cow disease and tainted animal feed in advance. Nevertheless, this crisis provided an opportunity to CCC. It extended the effects and reputation inEurope, even the world. Through this crisis, health was becoming more and more important, and more and more people were paying attention to this problem. Besides that, the pressure of competitors had appeared at that time. Of course, the cost and expense also increased.


After this incident or crisis, the Coca-Cola Company issued several strategies to deal with this problem. They were:

  1. Ensure that clear channel of communication.
  2. Pay attention to the emotional communication with the public.
  3. Avoid using uncommon in the technical terms.
  4. Focus on two-way communication.
  5. Implement the continuous communication.
  6. Set up the consciousness of whole crisis public relations.
  7. Research the reason why people would poison.


This crisis brought a mass of consequences for CCC. Besides that, it also gave an opportunity for CCC. They were:

  1. The cost and expense all increased on publicity.
  2. More and more consumers trusted the CCC.
  3. In the whole world, CCC won a good position; meanwhile, it obtained a good reputation.
  4. In the competitive market, Coca-Cola Company received more markets so that more and more people like to drink the products of Coca-Cola.
  5. The more sales, the more profit.
  6. CCC paid more attention to crisis management and the importance.

My comments:

In the modern world, more and more companies focus on crisis management. From this case, we could clearly see how to deal with and reply this crisis by the Coca-Cola Company. We expressly ensure that Coca-Cola Company should reflect much faster so that it shows it is a famous brand enterprise and it is good to increase the force of Coca-Cola. Meanwhile, we should be cautious to dispose some problems. Sometimes, making decisions to customers by us is necessary and important. Therefore, I will pay more attention to crisis management in my future job.

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6 Responses to The Coca-Cola Company Case

  1. dijiang313 says:

    Even though you provided a different crisis case study summary, you really did a good job on analyzing this crisis case. Like you said that, more and more companies focus on crisis management, I think it is because profits and development. I think all of us need to pay more attention on crisis management study in our future career.

  2. kurtcomm642 says:

    The Johnson and Peppas summary of that case was interesting. One is that bad carbon dioxide and a smell on the outside of the cans could cost a company $200 million. Who knew there was a difference in quality of carbon dioxide? But the most interesting part for me was that the government of Belgium (or at least the minister of health) specifically told Coca Cola that it should avoid engaging in a public conversation about the recall, so Coke’s first statement about it did not go out until a week later, after the production issues had been resolved. The Belgian minister’s reasoning would be interesting to see, and I wonder, too, if there has ever been anything like that in crisis communications in the U.S.

  3. lilly1989 says:

    I am little confusing about this case. Was it mad cow disease cause this crisis happened? If it was, I think this case has the similar characteristics with the Haagen-Dazes and Honey Bees case. There is no direct relationship between mad cow and the Coca-Cola Company, but the Coca-Cola Company can show its corporate society responsibility to the public by its favorable reputation.

  4. rangmoen20 says:

    i am also confused with your analysis of the coca-cola case , i don’t understand the co-relation between the mad cow disease, maybe you can help me get the scope of what you really meant.

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