PR Highlight: The Polar Bears by Coca-Cola

coca-cola polar bearsWhen you think of a polar bear, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s a cute picture from Pinterest or that one time you went to the zoo, but Coca-Cola won’t be far behind. Coca-Cola has centered its ad campaigns around polar bears since 1922, and since then, the two have been a match made in heaven.

The goal of Coca-Cola’s new campaign and partnership with the World Wildlife Fund is to raise $10 million to ensure that polar bears, and other creatures dependent on the arctic, will still have their habitat. According to an article published by Coca-Cola, “Fans of the polar bear and Coca-Cola responded by texting the package code, triggering $1 donations that quickly amounted to $1.8 million. The company contributed an additional $400,000 as part of its five-year, $2 million commitment to the cause,” in order to save its beloved mascot.

The U.S Geological Survey predicts that over two-thirds of the polar bear population will be gone by 2050 as climate change melts arctic ice and the platforms separate. This is making it near impossible for the polar bears to bread, hunt, and rest.

“As the Arctic goes, so goes the polar bear,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF. “Precious polar bear habitat is disappearing at an alarming rate, and without intervention, so will this magnificent bear. The success of Arctic Home gives me hope for the polar bear’s future.”

One of efforts that Coca-Cola has made was the introduction of their new short film, The Polar Bear. Coca-Cola has been highly criticized for the inaccuracies in demeanor and lifestyle depicted in their ads and short films. Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that polar bears don’t talk or enjoy a nice Coke after a long day? I for one, feel mislead! Next thing you are going to say is that the GEICO Gecko doesn’t actually have an accent.

The personalization of wild animals has been used for not only advertisements but in countless movies and children’s television shows. If Coca-Cola started this video saying that polar bears are generally solitary animals that not only lack family ties but have been known to eat their own young if they cannot find a seal to eat, no consumer would feel any connection to them. In part, yes this is a marketing ploy to keep their beloved mascot but they are also raising money to save this endangered species.

As a society, we choose to favor certain species of animals over others and those preferred species reap the benefits that we can offer. These animals serve us as a society, are domesticated, or we identify with. Unless you know anyone with a pet polar bear or one that can pull a tractor, then Coca-Cola chose a smart role. Polar bears are out of our everyday life, removed from society.  This video was meant to show that they have complex lives and are important enough to save. Yes, the creative director exaggerated the life of the typical polar bear, but it was a cartoon with talking animals. Some of that should have been expected.

The majority of publicity surrounding this campaign should be on the success that Coca-Cola has made with the World Wildlife Fund and efforts to increase awareness. Although Coca-Cola may be portraying the polar bear a bit like a golden retriever, the end result has increased awareness for a great cause to help preserve part of our world which is disappearing by the minute.

If you wish to contribute or learn more, please visit:

Suggested Reading

  • Coca-Cola Company | Coke Raises More Than $2 Million to Save Polar Bears
  • Slate | Coca-Cola’s Polar Bear Film Is Full of Lies
  • Econsultancy | 10 inspiring digital marketing campaigns from Coca-Cola

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Jacqueline Pruter

Jacqueline Pruter is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Strategic Communications at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

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