A political spat between two countries just got Coca-Cola in big trouble.
Following the violent ouster of Moscow-backed Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, Russian military forces entered Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula, holding a controversial referendum, with the territory voting to join Russia. Ukraine rejected the vote and since then, the neighboring countries have been in an unofficial state of war.
In the wake of the conflict, the mapping of the disputed region has understandably become a rather tricky business.
Coca-Cola learned this geo-political lesson the hard way when the global beverage’s Russian affiliate published a map of Russia on VKontakte — the country’s most popular, Facebook-like social media network — without Crimea.
The post prompted an angry backlash from Russian Internet users, after which the company quickly re-published the map to include Crimea.
However, even the correction set off a scorching round of criticism, this time from Ukrainians who are now calling for a boycott of the soft drink.
The map was eventually deleted from VKonakte.
One would think Coca-Cola’s boycott would in some way benefit its chief rival, Pepsi Co., but it didn’t since the latter sparked outrage in Ukraine after recently circulating a map on its website that shows Russia with Crimea. The webpage was taken down.
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