I like it when beverage companies put quirky things under their bottle caps. Snapple, Magic Hat, Pennsylvania shit beer Lionsheads, and all those gazillions of soda ad campaigns over the years, like the Pepsi Points program back in the day. Up in Canada, VitaminWater is holding a contest printing a random word in English and a random word in French on the same bottle cap. An Alberta woman received one that said "You Retard" -- as in You (English) Late (French) -- and was especially upset because her sister suffers from cerebral palsy and autism. She took to Facebook and fired off this angry letter:
I just sent this letter to the entire Board of Directors at Coca Cola.
Dear Sirs and Madams,
I am the father of two beautiful, 11 year old girls. They are the remainder of triplets that were born 3 1/2 months early - we lost Michaela when she was two days old.
Maddi is so smart. She is visually impaired but gets along just fine. She is in the top 5% of her peer group and she has a bigger heart than you can imagine. She loves all living things - especially her sister, Fiona.
Fiona has had a tougher time of it. She has had 22 surgeries. She has Cerebral Palsy and still gets fed with a feeding tube. She is cognitively delayed. Fifty years ago they might have called her retarded. But we know better now, don't we?
Fiona is a fighter. She smiles and laughs and talks a blue streak. She still loves Blues Clues even though her friends say it's not cool. She makes me so happy! These girls have made me a better person. I know how to care more deeply. I know how to give more freely. I know how to enjoy the small miracles that we are given every day.
I have two older daughters from my first marriage. Both so accomplished and gifted. Smart, talented, feisty. We talk nearly every day even though they are half a world away.
Imagine my surprise when I got this photo from my oldest daughter, Blake, who lives in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. You see, the "R" word is considered a swear word in out family. We don't use it. We don't tolerate others using it around us. We ARE over-sensitive but you would be too if you had Fiona for a daughter!
I know you will likely blame this on some rogue employee at some distant bottling plant. Probably not even one of your employees. But you have invested billions in promoting your brand. (Heck, I've been drinking Coke products since I was nine and got my first paper route!) And this single action, this small word printed on the bottom of a Vitamin Water lid, discovered by my daughter in Canada, has inspired me to tell you just how much the "R" word hurts. How destructive it is. How caustic. How uninformed. How isolating. Like the "N" word.
What would YOU do if you opened up your bottle of Vitamin Water and on the bottom of the lid it read "YOU RETARD"? Think about it. I bet you'd be pissed if you had a Fiona in your life!
Doug Loates - An ex-Coke drinker.
P.S. Here is Fiona. Can you imagine if SHE had opened this bottle???