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NEW YORK -- Coca-Cola Co.'s new white polar bear-themed holiday cans were intended to remain on shelves through February, but the soda juggernaut is hitting the breaks and going back to its traditional red color after a barrage of customer complaints, the Wall Street Journal reported. The more familiar holiday cans will begin shipping next week.
The white cans were part of Coke's efforts to promote its "Arctic Home" campaign to support the World Wildlife Fund's polar bear conservation efforts. Although company spokesman Scott Williamson said that "the can has been well-received and generated a lot of interest and excitement," some customers reportedly complained that they had confused the white regular Coca-Cola cans for the standard silver Diet Coke cans. A married couple even posted a YouTube video of a blindfolded taste test in which the wife is apparently able to tell the difference between the cans, although Coke stated it has not changed its formula.
Coca-Cola's original plan was to release 1.4 billion white cans by the end of the campaign, but the company has since said the red cans, which will also feature polar bears, will be in the majority by Christmas, with most white cans gone from stores by February.
To assist consumers, Coke has also added a fact sheet to its website that lists the differences between the white cans and Diet Coke cans, which include the calorie listing on the front of regular Coca-Cola cans vs. the snowflakes on the silver Diet Coke cans.
Not everyone is convinced that there's much reason for confusion. "If you put the cans side by side and blink, you might have to take a second look,'' Ed Rice, chief executive of the Missouri-based Coke distributor Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company, told the WSJ. "But I think there's a distinct difference."