A Canadian woman received an apology from Coca-Cola after she found an insulting message underneath a Vitamin Water bottle cap.
Blake Loates, from Alberta, Canada, took a sip from her Vitamin Water Zero Go-Go drink when she found the words “YOU RETARD” printed on the bottle cap while out for dinner with her husband on Tuesday night. Loates explained the disbelief that she and her husband were in when they saw the message.
"We immediately thought 'You have got to be kidding me,'" said Loates to the Huffington Post Alberta. "We thought it might have been a disgruntled employee or someone in a (bottling) plant playing a joke."
Unfortunately, for the Canadian couple, the offensive printed words on the cap were done intentionally by the company.
Coca-Cola Refreshment Canada contacted the family on Wednesday night to explain that the bottle cap is part of a contest being held by Vitamin Water. In this contest, the company prints one English word and one French word on its caps.
“When you look at the same word in English, it takes an offensive connotation,” said Shannon Denny, director of brand communications for Coca-Cola Refreshment Canada, to Metro Calgary.
"Retard" in French translates to "late" or "delayed,” according to the Huffington Post Alberta.
“We did not mean to offend at all,” said Denny. “We are certainly very apologetic for this oversight.”
Loates and her family still remain confused over Coke’s apology since the company admitted that it reviewed the words before the contest. The family cannot comprehend how the corporation would sit down and look at the word list and decide to keep it as is. “It's English meaning is offensive and they should have realized that," said Loates.
Doug, Loates's dad who lives in Washington state, was appalled by Coke’s behavior and decided to write a letter to the company.
“I am astonished that a major corporation could allow someone to tarnish their brand,” Doug said. “Not everyone in Canada speaks French – like my daughter, Blake.”
"You see, the 'R' word is considered a swear word in our family. We don't use it. We don't tolerate others using it around us. We ARE over-sensitive but you would be too if you had Fiona for a daughter!" he said.
Read Doug's full letter to Coca-Cola below.
In response to the situation, Coke has decided to end the promotion and is currently working to make things right. Coke plans to suspend the promotion and has ensured that all the remaining caps in its facilities have been destroyed, reports Metro Calgary. Loates was also told that the company would recall any remaining products.
“We have learned from this and it was a mistake,” said David Thomson, vice president of still beverages for Coca-Cola, to Metro Calgary. “At no point in time did we intend on offending anyone by any stretch and we have cancelled and moved on and have dealt with this as soon as possible.”
Thomson said that he will write a formal apology letter to the Loates family that will specify the course of action the company will take to correct the situation.