All Coca-Cola wanted to do was to wish consumers a happy new year, but instead it ended up stirring anger in two markets, Russia and Ukraine, over the disputed territory of Crimea.
The Ukrainian Black Sea Peninsula was annexed by Moscow in March 2014 and remains a trigger issue in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis today.
In a new year’s message on VK, the most popular Russian social media network, Coca-Cola published a map of Russia that did not include Crimea.
Faced with a barrage of criticism from Russian VK users, it published the map again on Tuesday — this time with Crimea — and apologized.
For good measure, the new map also included the Kuril Islands, the western Pacific archipelago that Moscow seized in 1945 from Japan, which Tokyo still claims.
The second version also included Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave situated between Poland and Lithuania, that is globally recognized as belonging to Moscow.
However, by including Crimea, Coca-Cola unleashed a firestorm in Ukraine, where demands for a Coca-Cola boycott got underway.
The corporation threw in the towel later on Tuesday and simply axed the new year’s message.
“Dear friends! Thank you for your attention. It has been decided to delete the item which caused the upset,” Coca-Cola’s Ukrainian subsidiary said on Facebook.
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