Notes of the first face to face with Salvatore Gabola

Salvatore Gabola

Here is a summary of the face to face
meeting with Salvatore Gabola at Coca Cola’s European HQ in
Brussels from 12-14:30 on 16/6/08

1 The unique and interesting elements of this campaign were
highlighted again:

  • it’s not about traditional Corporate
    Social Responsibility (CSR) but about the Commercial Sector working with other
    sectors (Gov and NGOs), with each working to its strengths, to achieve
    something that neither could achieve by themselves
  • Coca Cola support many projects in Africa aimed at getting community access to
    fresh water and sanitation but they are traditional CSR-type projects, so this
    idea is different.
  • the fact that it is a positive campaign
    based on practical action

There have been other attempts by Coca
Cola at distribution of non-Coca Cola products in the past but these have not
been successful for different reasons. The distribution of medication for
HIV/AIDS did not work because the medicines need special storage conditions,
needed to arrive in a predictable manner, needed specialist medical personnel
to prescribe them etc etc. The distribution of condoms did not have the same
problems but suffered from others, including the usual issues that arise around
the subject of birth control. The benefits of connecting to recycling
initiatives were also not evident, in countries mostly using refillable bottles
and where the rare cans are already picked up as valuable recyclables.

However, this idea, on the face of it,
would appear to be relatively free of controversy.  >>more

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The first 26 days – progress to date

crowd of children

This photo was taken by Teseum – the original is here

I thought an update on the progress of the Coca Cola campaign would be helpful.

May 1988 – May 2008 (20 years = 7305 days)

  • No progress at all!

Since the facebook group was formed on 18/5/08 (26 days)

5,500 children die every day in Africa before the age of 5. This
initiative could save thousands and thousands of children’s lives
through collaboration between the private and NGO sector. And now we
are talking.

Further information:
    All of the Coca Cola campaign posts

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Telephone conference with Coca Cola – 5/6/08

Coca Cola in Soweto

Here is a summary of the telephone conference with Coca Cola.

Representatives from Coca Cola:
Euan Wilmshurst
Manager, Stakeholder Engagement
Coca-Cola Global Stakeholder Team

Salvatore Gabola
Global Director Stakeholder Relations

Representative from this group:
Simon Berry

Introductions (see annex 1)

I started by outlining the idea and how it had progressed to become a group of 1800 people. This is all here.

I made the point that we were not just interested in the distribution of the salts but also in the awareness raising and education process as well.

What we have achieved was described as ‘remarkable’ but there seemed to be a genuine delight that the campaign was a positive one, which Coca Cola could potentially engage with. I pointed out that this group offers a valuable middle ground – bridging the usual divide between ‘anti-’campaigners and the Coca Cola ‘publicity machine’. In this middle ground, the majority would be able to gather around a simple positive action and in the process learn from, and about, each other. I think this is accepted by Coca Cola. >>more

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Coca Cola Campaign nominated for New Media Awards

New Media Awards 2008
Just a quick note to thank Paul Webster for nominating the Coca Cola Campaign for this year’s New Media Awards and for others who have dived in and left supporting comments (and the all important rating!). I will keep a role of honour below! Please comment and rate the nomination if you can.

This will help significantly in bringing more attention to the campaign.

Further information:
    All of the Coca Cola campaign posts

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My letter to Annie Lennox of 30/5/08

Letter to Annie Lennox - 30/5/08

Here’s the transcript:

Dear Annie

On Desert Island Discs you said:

We can distribute Coca Cola all around the World but we can’t seem to get medication to save a child from something as simple as diarrhoea and I think that that is wrong. You know, you have a choice you either get involved with an issue or you walk away from it. I think it’s a human rights issue and I feel very passionately about human rights.

I was so delighted – I had to stop the car! I am trying to get Coca Cola to use their amazing distribution network in developing countries to distribute rehydration salts. Your comment inspired me to set up a facebook to gather people around this idea. For a week or so the group has been growing by about 2-3 per hour. Today it has really taken off and is growing at about 15 per hour.

You can read the full story of the campaign here:

Would you be willing to lend your support to this cause? A person of your stature would make an enormous difference and may mean we could actually make this happen.

I hope you get to see this letter.

With best wishes


Further information:
    All of the Coca Cola campaign posts

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Impromptu interview

My good friend David Wilcox just loves gathering stories on video. Take a look over here on We met up today for our regular top-up of "getting all excited about the possibilities Web 2.0 offers" and we got on to the Coca Cola campaign and David pointed a camera at me. This is the result . . . . sorry, I’m a bit nervous to begin with but I get into it!

Thanks David.

Further information

All of the Coca Cola Campaign posts

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Coca Cola song competition announced!

Eve Graham

Can you sing or play the guitar? We need you now! Following the Cocal Cola feature on iPM yesterday the podcast was slightly delayed due to legal considerations. It’s now been released but without Eve Graham’s wonderful song!!

So what the people at iPM are suggesting is that we all have a go at singing it and send our renditions into the iPM Blog.

Here’s what you need to get started:

1 The Lyrics (these are slightly different from the ones on the iPM Blog but are what Eve actually sang)

I’d like to fix those Burmese homes;
Give poverty the shove
Grow sustainable trees, give aid with ease
And show Africa some love..

I’d like to reach the world and bring
It perfect harmony.
I’d like to reach its outstretched arms
But I need a company:
Coca Cola we need them today
They’re the real thing

2 The chords:
D, E, A, G and D

3 The tune: sung to the tune of ‘I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing’ by The New Seekers

This is how Eve Graham sang it:

Here is Coca Cola’s statement
Go on! Get that guitar out!!

Download iPM_24_05_2008_song.mp3

Further information

All of the Coca Cola Campaign posts

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A big thank you everyone at iPM

eddie_mair rupert_allman george_south

Eddie Mair  |  Rupert Allman  |  George South

These guys have worked their socks off this week to support the Coca Cola campaign and the results came together beautifully at 5:30pm today on the iPM programme on Radio 4. In exchange for a simple idea and interview from me they have:

  • Encouraged Coca Cola to respond to the Campaign (their letter is here)
  • Got the support of the one and only Eve Graham who spoke very positively about the campaign AND sang a song written just for us.

This is how the whole thing is reported on the iPM website:

We’d like to teach the world to sing . . .

Copyright problems mean that podcast listeners will have been denied the chance to hear our very first iPM song. It’s Eve Graham of the New Seekers, and she’s singing about this.

Not to neglect our digital listeners, may we suggest a home
performance of the anthem? By marrying the lyrics below with the chords
D, E, A, G and D, you can take part in our biggest crowd-sourcing
project yet. We’d like to teach the world to sing (but we can’t help on
the guitar unfortunately).

I’d like to fix those Burmese homes;
Give poverty the shove
Grow sustainable trees, give aid with ease
And show Africa some love..

I’d like to reach the world and bring
It perfect harmony.
I’d like to reach its outstretched arms
But I need a company:
They’re the real thing
The world needs them today.
They’re the real thing
The world needs them today

Now, I just happened to have my recorder running while the show was on and by some fluke of ICT trickery the recording of the item, including the song has ended up here.

Click the play button below


Or you can download the recording here: iPM_24_05_2008_extract.mp3

Further information

All of the Coca Cola Campaign posts

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Coca Cola have responded!

Coca Cola in Soweto

Many thanks to Rupert Allman of the BBC for his work contacting Coca Cola over the last few days.

This is just in via Rupert from Salvatore Gabola, Global Director Stakeholder Relations at Coca-Cola. I’ll be taking him up on his offer of a chat. We will get there a step at a time.

"This is an extraordinarily interesting discussion. And it is one
which goes to the heart of the key question of how we can make better
use of the successes of business to serve the development needs of the
world in general and of Africa in particular. The recent Millennium
Development Goal Call for Action by Prime Minister Gordon Brown stems
from this simple starting point.

It is also something we take very seriously at Coca-Cola. We are
proud of what we are already doing through the Africa Foundation – for
example, providing safe drinking water to communities throughout the
continent. But we are also asking ourselves how our core business
operation can do more. And this includes whether we can use our
distribution network to deliver other goods which will help improve
lives in local communities.

The challenge, of course, is to do this without undermining the
successful model which helps explain why you can get a Coke across
Africa. Because the very success of this network rests on the fact that
it is not owned by Coca-Cola but made up of many small independent
local distributors.

Our bottlers do help these small firms get started with training and
start-up capital. But the system works so well because the better they
distribute our drinks, the more money they make. It taps into Africa’s
entrepreneurial spirit of and gives people the means and the incentive
to develop their business and create more jobs.

So what we are considering is if, and how, this system can be tweaked
so it remains economically successful but can be extended so it does
more to help the common good.

We don’t have the answers yet. As often happens, it is not as
straightforward as it looks at first glance. But I can promise we are
working hard to find solutions.

This summer, we are beginning a research project and pilot in Tanzania
to analyse in depth our distribution model and examine how it can be
used to enhance its development potential. The Harvard Kennedy School
of Government and the International Finance Corporation are helping
with it.

Our hope is that this research will come up with concrete measures we
can then apply to our distribution systems across the African continent
and beyond.

Together I hope we can come up with the right solutions. And I am happy
to have a chat on this subject with Simon in the near future."


Salvatore Gabola, Global Director Stakeholder Relations, Coca-Cola.

I am really pleased. Thanks to everyone for signing up and posting resources to the Facebook Group this MUST keep growing if we are to make things happen so please keep spreading the word.

Further information

All of the Coca Cola Campaign posts

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What’s it like to cycle in London?

I was coming down in the lift at CLG (Department of Communities and local Government) this atfernoon with my folding bike and a woman asked what it was like cycling in London, so I thought I’d show her.

These videos were taken with a Nokia n95 and streamed straight to Qik over a 3G connection over the internet. The comments I received from anonymous viewers as I rode along included: "Shut! Stop talking" (gee thanks) and "You’re riding on the wrong side of the road" and "You’ve just gone passed where I used to work".

Don’t be put off by the quality of the audio in the first one. The other two are better.

Video 1 of 3: Victoria to Parliament Square

Video 2 of 3: Parliament Square to Tottenham Court Road

Video 3 of 3: Tottenham Court Road to Euston

There. Fun!

I could of course do this bit of the journey by public transport but it’s deadly compared to this! Also I live 3 miles from the station so need the bike when I get to the other end.

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