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

2 How to take things forward

It was our view that in order to take
this idea forward we need to identify an appropriate NGO (or NGOs) to take up
this idea with a view to this NGO working with Coca Cola to trial and


2.1 SB to pursue links with
WaterAid through Global Tolerance and his own links (as a supporter)

2.2 SG to check existing
relationships that Coca Cola has with NGOs working on such issues in

East Africa

(where the pilot may take

3 Risks

We only identified one significant risk
to Coca Cola in pursuing this project but there may be more. This was that in
order for Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) to be used safely, non-infected water is
required. If ORS were used with infected water then this could do more harm
than good.


Could sanitation tablets (or a powder
version of the same ingredients) be mixed in with ORS safely?


3.1  SB to make enquiries starting
with The Rehydration Project in


who are
supporters of this campaign.

4 Using the Tanzanian Research Project as a springboard to trial
this idea

SG again suggested that this research
project be used to start to test this idea. My only concern is that this idea
was not part of this trial and so may be sidelined. However, the research
project is about exploring new ideas and may provide a vehicle for some
relatively quick trialing of the idea.


4.1  SG to dig out documentation
relating to the Tanzania Project and to check which parts can be shared with
the group.

4.2  That there is a meeting after
the first phase of the Tanzanian research to discuss ways forward. This would
include the NGO(s) in 2.1 and 2.2 above and possibly a member of the Facebook

4.3  SG to advise on the
feasibility of such a meeting, date (Aug/Sep?), venue etc

5 The importance of ‘local’

At several points during the meeting we
returned to the issue that anything that is done needs to be defined by the
local conditions (local organisations, local structures and processes etc). It
may be, therefore, that the successful implementation of this idea is broken
down into four or five key functions and that these would then be implemented
by different people/organsations in different localities depending on local
circumstances. ie not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

6 SG’s role

SG will not be the person who will make
the decision on whether this project goes forward or not. That will depend on
several others within Coca Cola coming on board. Key among these will be the
head of Coca Cola in


and the


marketing team. We’d need the support of their colleagues in the other
territories to make this happen outside of


. However, I think we have a real
advocate in SG who has already engineered joint working relationships with WWF
and Greenpeace during his time at Coca Cola.


6.1  SG to spread the word about
our campaign and discuss with the appropriate people within Coca Cola.

7 More collaboration like this

SG was really interested on the online
element of this campaign and thought that there should be more places where
businesses and not-for-profit organisations can discuss matters of societal
interest online. I can’t believe that this isn’t already happening but having
said that, I don’t know of anywhere where it is. Anyone fancy taking this on?!

8 Next Business Call for Action

SG mentioned that there was a follow-up
to the Business Call to Action in

New York

around 24-25/9/08.
Wouldn’t it be great if this idea got a mention by the Coca Cola CEO there?!

So, once more, trust has been built and
now specific actions have emerged. I will keep members posted on progress with
these action points through the Facebook group and my blog.

Onwards and upwards

SB 16.06.08

Further information:
    All of the Coca Cola campaign posts

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4 Responses to Notes of the first face to face with Salvatore Gabola

  1. David Wilcox says:

    Sounds like a really positive meeting … with a wider opportunity as well. You said:
    “SG was really interested on the online element of this campaign and thought that there should be more places where businesses and not-for-profit organisations can discuss matters of societal interest online ….. Anyone fancy taking this on?!”
    Certainly interesting in exploring

  2. Julie Harris says:

    Thanks for this feedback and report Simon – it looks as if this was a positive meeting and provided opportunities to take your vision forward. Certainly keen to continue offering support as and when we can.

  3. Tim Hood says:

    Hi Simon
    I’ve been reading the archive posts on this and will go to the Facebook group today. I would certainly be interested in helping out on the idea of a collaborative platform for NGOs and companies with CSR programmes. I’ve spent a few minutes googling and can’t find a matchmaking tool for companies and development projects. Sounds an obvious idea…
    I read on a previous post that Coca Cola would like to see a groundswell of support for this locally. There’s another obvious application for social media here too- as a kind of triangulation tool between western individuals and groups, local citizens in developing countries and NGOs. Such networks would really help when approaching Coca Cola and other large corporations.
    This is a very exciting project and a terrific idea. Congratulations!

  4. Lily says:

    I’ve been following your campaign and supporting it for some time now. There is a general admiration as to how successful it has become in such a relatively short space of time. More recently I have admired how you have managed to get an initial meeting with Coca Cola. To lend my further support I’ve add the cause to my blog and hopefully it may encourage others to join this great idea. Furthermore I think Tim is right there is a gap that needs to be filled concerning a platform that can join business, communities, NGO’s and governments.
    Wishing you all the best.

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