NEW YORK: While the credit crunch removes the fizz from western markets, Coca-Cola's chairman Neville Isdell argues that the current climate offers "an opportunity" for those brands that invest in the developing world, aiming to "be a functioning member of every community and every society" in which they operate.
Speaking at the annual Clinton Global Initiative event– organised by ex-President Bill Clinton – Isdell emphasised the most pressing challenge facing the US was "restoring liquidity, but more importantly restoring trust in the market."
He said: "Our whole system is under threat. It is always the cash flow that causes recessions. It is always that that drives companies out of business. We've got to solve it now."
The developing world is where Coca-Cola sees the greatest potential for future growth, but Isdell also argues that focusing solely on making money is no longer enough.
"The old model of the 20th century, whereby Milton Friedman said the only purpose of business is to make a profit, is last century. It's not 21st century."
"The successful business in five, ten years time, is going to be the one that looks at this current crisis as an opportunity and continues to invest in emerging markets."
Coca-Cola's corporate social responsibility spending totalled $99 million last year, including a variety of community and economic development, education, environmental and healthy-living projects.
It has also pledged to become “water-neutral”, and is to create around 8,000 jobs by 2010 through opening more “manual distribution centres” in areas like East Africa, where it pays local entrepreneurs to deliver its products to remote areas, often by hand.
Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff