Coke's water stirs bilingual botchup
Coca-Cola has been forced to apologise for putting the phrase “You Retard” under the cap of a vitamin water bottle.
Tacoma, Washington state man Doug Loates complained when one of his daughters, who lives in Edmonton, Canada, texted him a picture of the Glacéau brand Vitamin Water cap with the offending words.
But the offence is a bilingual botchup.
Coke explains that the phrase is part of a promotional campaign in Canada, where English words are randomly matched with French words.
In French “retard” has a completely inoffensive meaning – late or delayed.
But that doesn’t satisfy Mr Loates. He told the local paper: "I said [to my daughter], 'Is that real?' She said, 'Yeah, it was on my bottle of water that I got that's made by Coke,' and I said, 'You've got to be kidding.'"
He is particularly offended because another daughter, an 11-year-old who lives at home with him, has cerebral palsy and autism.
"The R word is not in our lexicon in our family. We don't allow it. We don't want people to say it," he says.
"Not everybody in Canada speaks French. I don't speak French, I'm from Canada, but I don't speak French.”.
Coke has apologised: "We sincerely apologise for inadvertently offending anyone. We take every consumer concern very seriously. This is a genuine oversight in the review process. The mistake has been corrected and the words removed from all future production.
“The mistake occurred in anticipation of a potential consumer promotion for Glacéau Vitaminwater in Canada. We started printing random combinations of English and French words under the caps...
“The top word English and the bottom, a different word in French. Regretfully, the French words were not reviewed from an English standpoint. In this case a French word, despite an innocuous meaning in French but an offensive meaning in English, made the production list of words.