Sunday, October 16, 2011

PTA pitches Coke 'rewards' program

An on-line PTA newsletter recently highlighted a CocaCola program that has students using soft drink label codes to raise money for schools.

It’s all part of something Coke calls “Coke Rewards.” The real “reward” is for CocaCola’s bottom line through acceptance of the consumption of harmful, sugar-laden beverages that contribute to an epidemic of diabetes.

In short, the PTA's promotion of this program is trading the health of children for a few dollars for cash-strapped schools. The problems are real; the answers can’t be found in consumption of soft drinks and corporate handouts.

In addition to Coke’s gaining positive PR through its program, it also buys silence about the harm done by its products. Note the lame disclaimer attached to the end of the newsletter item.

“This promotion is not intended by anyone at Wilson to encourage consumption of certain products, just to take advantage of the benefits the company offers from products you may already be using.”

“Certain products”? “MAY already be using”?

How about a line that overtly warns against the harm associated with the continued consumption of “certain” “products you may already be using.”

I think they call that “education,” which is the mission, if I recall correctly, of the PTA.

Question: If Philip Morris set up a similar program rewarding submitted cigarette butts with contributions to the school, would the PTA participate?

Here’s the full text of the message as it appeared....


If you drink Coke products, you have the power to donate points that translate to cash and prizes appropriate for improving all kinds of areas at the school. Look under the caps of any Coke product bottle and inside of the carton of Coke, Sprite, Barq's, etc cans for a code worth 3-10 points. You may enter them on your own My Coke Rewards account and then donate them to Wilson or drop them in the PTA box in front office and we'll enter them. Wilson's Students for Environmental Action (SEA) will collect caps from recycled bottles at school. Wilson is registered at and ready to accept suggestions for our wish list and donations of codes. Go to:, scroll over the "Schools" black tab and click "donate to a school", enter Wilson's zip code 97219 to search, scroll to the bottom of the drop down to find Wilson, click on it and then continue. If you go there soon, you can enter Wilson for their SparksParks for Schools promotion and increase our odds of winning $25,000 to improve our school's park-like grounds. This promotion is not intended by anyone at Wilson to encourage consumption of certain products, just to take advantage of the benefits the company offers from products you may already be using. For more information contact PTA VP Maureen Berrie-Lawson at

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Anonymous Celeste Lewis said...

It's amazing to me how really good parents can overlook and endorse the blatant act of self-promotion by corporations.

In having Wilson supporters sign up for "rewards", they are giving coke valuable marketing information that many Wilson supporters don't value personally. coke gets infomration they can't get any other way about their audience and buying habits.

Instead of these elaborate giving schemes where some company like coke or target get something in exchange, corporations should be simply paying more taxes. They have all these profits but do not pay their fair share of the public infrastructure.

Of course when Wilson needs items for the auction, coke doesn't have a process for hitting them up. Wilson PTA members and parents hit up local business, who provide the bulk of the advertising dollars, in kind donations and items for raffle or auction.

How convenient for Coke that their special finding comes with many strings tragic for our communities.

And of course, Coke isn't the only corporation with such tactics. Think Nike is a hero for all those soccer field sponsorships? Think again: all soccer clubs using those fields REQUIRE that all players must purchase new uniforms annually or semi-annually from, ta da, a "sponsoring" sports attire company, like Nike. Have a pair of black shorts from last season that still fit? Unless they are in the sponsor's brand, you child is not permitted to wear them and might face sanctions ( like running laps) if they do.

And where do some of these PTA parents make a living that puts the food on the table? the same corporations with these nasty habits.....

Gone to graveyards, everyone....

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Hmm, I don't really see the harm here. True that Coke when consumed in excess is not good for you, but then again nothing really is. A coke here or there isn't going to hurt anyone. I liken this to those programs where you can donate you frequent flier miles to help soldiers get home for leave, or help families with special needs travel for medical help. In the end, it's a win-win, the school might get some badly needed money (without having to stick their hands in my wallet again) and coke gets some goodwill/advertising.

Celeste, I would also suggest to you that saying corporations should 'simply pay more taxes' is basically the same as saying 'consumers should pay more for everything'. Corporations do not pay taxes - any tax levied against a corporation is going to be treated as a cost of doing business and that cost passed on to the consumer of that product. Additionally, you say that 'the corporations' "have all these profits but don't pay their fair share" - can you site any sources to support this argument? What is 'fair'? Who decides? I would submit these links for your review:

At least for the Coke company, they seem like they do an enormous amount of good for the communities they work in....i have no dog in this fight or affiliation to Coke, just making an observation.

11:06 PM  

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