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April 16, 2009

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Sadly, it seems that Innocent have become between 10-20% less innocent.

Very disappointed in you guys.

Maybe you could rename yourselves 'Guilty'?

i don't understand how no profit can be going to coke. surely if they have 10% stake they get 10% of the profit. how do coke get ROI? i understood the decision before watching this video and now i think something wierd is going on!

Coca-Cola now a "decent company"?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Coca-Cola

Perhaps, as with all noble efforts to remain free from the stains of greed and corruption, Innocent have now also succumbed to the inevitable.

Very unfortunate. I really love Innocent. The existence of such a company gives me - or gave me - a genuine sense of hope that is is possible to balance successful business acumen with independently serving the ethical good, and making people happy, and not being too serious.

The ethical issues surrounding Coca-Cola are, alas, inescapably serious.

Thank you for posting these. Nice to hear your reaction to some of the comments that have come up over and over and over and over...

I love Innocent because of the healthy products, environmental awareness, generous charity efforts and quirky fun. It doesn't sound like any of that is going to change, so I haven't got a problem with investment from Coke. In fact, if it means that Innocent survive the recession and I can still get my critical fix of smoothies then it's probably a sensible move!

And another thing - Coke is obviously going to continue to exist for a long time, so I think the fact Innocent may have some influence over it, however small, is a really good thing.

Hmmm. 'Due diligence with these guys'... Can we now stop all the folksy waffle and crayon guff on the packaging? Maybe introduce a new design based on a natty business suit - perhaps worn without a tie. I've been concerned for some time about the way the 'Innocent' guys waste the time of former advertising colleagues with spurious pitches. Ideas worth nicking are worth paying for. So the whole Coke debacle comes as no surprise.

P.S.

There was still no word from Innocent on the quiet removal of this (
 http://tinyurl.com/dcqo2s ) page from the blog. Be innocent, own up! ;-)

Surely Innocent representatives can see why we all think this is the thin edge of a wedge, and likely to rob the company of its uniquely ethical, lighthearted and consequently much-loved position?

As has been said ad nauseam, the precedent with deals like these do not look promising, and the hint at their someday distributing your products makes this bleak prospect even more of a concern.

Only a matter of time before Innocent sold out. It could have been many ethical companies.WHY?
People read a book called Belching out the Devil by Mark Thomas and see what real evil Coca-cola get up to.The facts are there.

If Coke get none of Innocent's profits, what do they get? They probably didn't give you a mountain of gold just because they like smoothie, so what's in it for them?

makes it simple - Innocent no longer worth paying the extra money for. If I want smoothies and they are the cheapest in the quality range I look for fine to buy, if more expensive might as well buy someone else. There are now lots of good smoothie brands these days, I had brand loyalty - but Innocent has just lost it USP

Glad to see 'innocent' giving further information. I hope you'll also be willing to answer questions asked within this thread.

For example:
What could the Coca-Cola executive on the Investment board do if they weren't happy with a proposal made by the founders?

Why did 'innocent' not attempt to secure some of the investment from customers?

Have Coke made any conditions of the deal that might be restrictive to 'innocent' either currently or in the future?

Tut Tut boys, lost a lot of respect.

Another customer lost. I really didn't mind paying the extra money for an ethical product, but won't any more.
It is foolish to think that one might be able to influence a company like coke. I'm not being defeatist here, just realist. The best thing for a company like that is to vote with your shopping basket and inform others of their wicked ways until they have no customers left.
So, what's in it for coke, then? Why not remain small and ethical with the slow but steady growth you have enjoyed up until now?

www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/youandyours/items/04/2008_46_mon.shtml

Having listened to this You and Yours BBC4 radio interview on 10th November 2008, I have a question for Richard.
How closely do you feel the values of the potential minority shareholder you spoke about match the actual minority shareholder chosen?

This interivew is interesting listening.

I have quite an open mind and won't pre-judge. This may be a stupid question but if Coke won't see any of the profits, what's really in it for them?

Well I won't be buying anymore innocent smoothies. It goes against everything you guys campaigned for...

Here's an alternative version of the interview....


Why did you have to raise funds - couldn't you just have stayed as you are?

No. Because we've got a 30 year business plan to build a huge corporate that rules the darn world And one that our previous employers - Bain Coporate Consulting, McKinsey Corporate Consulting and Virgin Cola would have been proud of.

Staying as you are ,for us doyens of 90's business training, is for woosies. We're here to kick ass, first the Latte/ New Labour ethics demographic...then the world.

Why did you choose Coke as your investor?

Duh....cos they've got loads of money? Also, they can bask in the reflected glory of the brand we've so studiously worked on. And they know they'd be mad to tamper with us - in fact they like the way we've worked this brand so beautifully that from time to time Coke guys will come along to our meetings to see what they can learn about Corporate Communications. Particularly with the difficult stuff like Mark Thomas has uncovered (oh, how I wish he wasn't cooler than us...Note to self - must find out who does Mark Thomas branding...)


How much do Coke now own?

I forget, who cares Let's go surfin'! (Our brand is wacky remember! Jeez, we're supposed to give the impression that we got here by accident not by Excel. Just nice guys on bean bags havin' fun forgettin' about all the boring business stuff and goin' out on the lash....)



Does this mean that some of the profits from innocent now go to Coke?

No! Klutz! What difference would our profits make to probably the worlds most profitable company?!

Do you really think you are going to be able to influence Coke's thinking?

Ofcourse not! Why would we want to?


Who is now running innocent and what will Coke's involvement be?

Us and zilch (well, apart from the terse directive from their heavies from time to time ....)


Isn't this deal against all that you stand for?
OK. We're not happy about the Brand Incongruence here , but we'll bury it, don't worry. We're clever brand marketeers and business-men remember? We've done it before by not going out there with stuff like our previous jobs prowling the boardrooms of Mega Companies or the fact that while we say we're obsessed with crushing fruit - we don't actually do any crushing of fruit. We're obsessed with fruit crushing by proxy! Some other company does that for us - probably for others too...but hey, we're not a product led business, we're a brand led business!


Are you now going to change the way you talk and act as a business?

Any other remarks like that and I'll tell my mum.


Ok I did actually laugh out loud at the Coke is a decent company comment. Seriously guys a simple google search would have told you otherwise.
This years AGM is going to be interesting. I bet you'll be carefully selecting attendees now rather than a random ballot. Gosh what A Grown up Meeting it will be this year if you have to face and answer your now furious customer base. I'm truly fascinated by this. You must have known your customers would have reacted in this manner so the calculation is clearly that you will gain more new customers than you will lose. Fine. But your brand image is ruined. The chatty website, emails, cartoons will now really look like cynical marketing knowing that Coke is behind you. Innocence really has been lost. What is that cost to your brand? Like I say - I'm fascinated. We're in the middle of a recession, people are cash strapped, there are cheaper alternatives out there and you have lost your USP. It just all looks a bit mad from the outside. What do I care? It's not my money that may go down the pan with your business...incidentally why did you not consider investment from your customers first?

Lets be honest, as long as Coke stay silent, not a biggie.

I guess the people that will see the fruits of this don't live in this country which makes it a tougher situation to weather here.

I think this deal is for the greater good. If you want to change the way the world works, don't petition from a far but get into bed with it.

Good luck guys. (but please remove fish from Thai Curry veg pot!!!)

Well thanks for doing this, it's good that you realise we don't like it.

We're your customers: without us, you're nothing! We had no say in this at all. Coke is a clever, soulless machine: it's not going to donate money to a big competitor just because it feels nice that day.

All the good stuff you sent me (in 2 emails, obviously mail merge...you had to reply to a lot of complaints, huh! At least you replied though) that coca cola does is not because it feels nice either. It has a duty to do that: even such a huge thing relies on its customers, and too much bad publicity means fewer customers.

I would like to talk to coke about this deal. Problem is honesty isn't their greatest talent.

I don't believe in all the stupid propaganda websites there are out there, about coke killing people etc etc...it might happen, but they have only false, pretend proof to show for it. I don't believe coke have killed people (even if they have...yay, lower population = happy world), or anything else people are trying to pin on them. But they are not nice people. They are big, powerful, nasty people who make nasty drinks (innocent smoothies won't even put sugar in their drinks. Let alone phosphoric acid, aspartame, caffeine.......)

Mind you, it's not really my business. I don't know why I'm taking this to heart so much, I am cynical by nature and usually it's just, well, another one bites the dust.

It's interesting to see that the reaction to the Coke stake from your customers is quite emotional, and it's unusual for a grocery product to generate such a passionate response when it's perceived independance is threatened by interference from a multinational. Serious brand loyalty!

Can we perhaps look at the issue from the Coke perspective? This company is a giant presence in the soft drinks market globally, it's profitable and holds good market share, but has to grow to keep shareholders happy.
In the UK, the fruit juice market, especially smoothies, is growing, driven mainly by the desire by consumers to consume healthy products in a convenient package- however Coke has no presence in this market and probably sees no advantage in attempting to launch it's own product range against well entrenched competitors. In addition. It's traditional rival- Pepsico, is a brand leader in fresh packaged juices with Tropicana, and the brand has recently been extended to smoothies with a price point just below Innocent.
Innocent also has recently launched an premium orange juice product, in my opinion better quality than Tropicana, but probably not well distributed outside traditional multiple supermarkets in the UK.

Coke can only realistically enter the juice market by acquisition and taking a stake in Innocent is a good strategic move. They now have a foot in the door of the UK juice market, an opportunity to help roll out the brand across Europe, and a great opportunity to 'Screw Pepsi'..it's a perfect fit.

It's a given that with 20% Coke will have a seat on the board, right?..

My name is Mark, and I'm not buying it (the CSR waffle) or them (Innocent products).

And this info just came in from the India Resource Centre (www.indiaresource.org):

Reality Check for Coca-Cola's Public Relations
April 16, 2009

If you lead with the make up world of public relations, as Coca-Cola does, chances are that at some point reality will check in, and check in it has for Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola's public relations - which have the uncanny ability to make things up - have recently been exposed for a series of misleading and deceptive claims. http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2009/realitycheck.html

TAKE ACTION!!
http://www.indiaresource.org/action/index.html

Wonder what the % will be in a year or two?

The questions seemed very staged. Strange how one day you say you'll not succumb to the big boys and the next you have, without any inkling.

There's bound to be a fall in short term sales now from this news, perhaps we will see a price increase.

I feel lost with innocent.

Surely eveyone understood it was the drinks that were innocent and not the company?

Yes Coke will make money, note the use of the word dividends.

Ok, feeling a bit of a hypocrite here. On a trip out yesterday I had a Diet Coke at lunch and an Innocent smoothie at tea time. After reading what others have said about Coke's reputation, I'm feeling a little twitchy about both.
If Mark Thomas is saying that Coke's enterprises are dodgy, then I'm all ears and so should Innocent have been. In this case, not only should an ethical company be squeaky-clean, they should be *seen* to be squeaky-clean.
Disappointed of Colehill,
Jack(ie)

Like most contributors here I love innocent products and respect their business model. As a company director myself I'm all too aware of just how tough it must have been for innocent to thrive through the recession.

Before condeming them give a thought to what might have happened to the brand we all love if they hadn't raised some money.

Maybe you should bring out a new juice called 'Milli Vanilli'

Hand back those awards...

You're total fraudsters.......

Shame on you!

Why didnt you ask us?

I'm sure enough of us could have clubbed together and come up with £30m.

A share-offering for the people.

A Smoothie IPO. Given your devout customers have generally got plenty of cash I reckon it would have been over-subscribed.

Can you ask Coke if we can buy their share off them. Tell them you were just fibbing.

Please.

you sad sad people, would love
yo see your April sales figures

Good idea to do these vox pops, I think. If you do more, please can you use a tripod?
(sorry, I know this is not really a key issue)

Innocent are still a brilliant company, whatever Coke's involvement is, and as long as Innocent's products taste the same (or better) then before, then that's all I care about!

You've unfortunately broken your brand, and ultimately will lose the £30m from your devoted followers - probably in this year alone.

You had a great company and a great image. and in one move, you totally wrecked it.

I like choosing to support companies trying to make a difference. I don't like supporting companies trying to take over the world - why should I continue to support you?

I buy innocent... have done for a long time...
BUT
since hearing Mark Thomas a few times there's no doubt in my mind that Coke are not just a bit bad, they are actually evil.
To even by implicated in the *DEATH* of people over a drink for goodness sake, plus slightly more minor things like pollution in less regulated countries and reduction in water (i.e. India)... can't be right.
So, in my very small way, I now avoid, as far as possible, buying anything from the coca-cola corporation. Won't change much, if anything, if it's just me, but hopefully there are other folks doing the same...
Anyway, now they have 10-20% of innocent.
What are now my options? Don't know if the other brands are more ethical (I think one is owned by Pepsi, and who knows who makes smoothies for supermarket own-brand).
But others are right.
You're no longer INNOCENT. You've got into bed with a company with actual blood on its hands.

If it was this or nothing, I would have understood. As it is, I do feel sad. Now when I read those cute comments on the bottle, I don't think I'll believe them any more.

At least we'll always have the xmas tree.

I think the post I just put up here was deleted!!

I posted this link about Innocent and Coke from the India Resource Center, who campaign on behalf of the thousands of people affected by Coke's business model and activities in India and other countries

http://www.indiaresource.org/news/2009/1012.html

I also asked what other companies people might turn to for their smoothies, if they're now boycotting Innocent?

I made my own in a blender this morning - put some bananas, oranmge juice, kiwis and grapes in and it was gorgeous! Got all the fruit from the market so cost less than £2.30 for a whole litre!!

Hello Sunshine.

We had to remove your previous comment because it contained swearing I'm afraid. We're having to remove all comments and links to sites that containing profanities as we make drinks for kids and children will visit our website. Hope this is OK.

makes me feel sad like when mcdonalds bought into pret a manger - now it's just another corporate. Growth for the sake of growth does not always mean more happy customers. The shine has gone off innocent for me

It was quite a mild word used in context to describe Innocent's glib CSR speak around this situation, with a * in it, but fair enough.

Coca Cola???? Somehow, I don't think I'll be bothered to get my knitting needles out to make little hats for the smoothie bottles this winter. You've taken all the fun out of it. I'll just write a cheque.

Hi innocent,

Thanks for the video responses, although I think I'd pretty much heard all the reasons you gave before.

Is being scared of what coke might do to you if you pull out causing you any problems as a company?

Things change and businesses have to survive somehow, especially our current money situation. I'm not a fan of Coca Cola by any means, but I'm still a fan of Innocent and will still buy their smoothies AND knit them winter hats.

Nonsense. This is ridiculous. Where's the ethics gone..? I thought you were -at least just a little more than others- innocent... and different. But clearly... greedy like so many.
And you hold you head high justifying your unjustifiable decision.
I feel betrayed and I'm dispointed. Very dispointed.

Rich looks very uncomfortable :(

There's no way he can justify even a 1% stake in Innocent by a company like coca-cola. Not without taking the halo off.

What happened to "growing organically"?

Innocent - you've sold out on everything you stood for.

If Coke aren't getting any of the profits, then what is in it for them? (This isn't a rhetorical question - I would really like to know.)

I won't be able to help myself say "Innocent" without a hint of sarcasm in my voice the next time I see it on shelves...

Coca Cola's dark side is well documented in "Belching out the Devil" (Mark Thomas). I'm not sure that union breaking and the odd assasination falls within the Innocent ethos

Innocent has finally popped its cherry.

Maybe now you can sell smoothies with a little bit of a wicked side. Vodka Smoothies. Target the teenage market - binge drinkers. You'll make loads.

Good grief, Innocent now sound like politicians justifying their duplicitous behaviour.

Sorry - I feel bad after that last post.

Can you tell coke it was all a big mistake and get the share back - you said they were nice people - maybe they'll understand.

Sell some shares to customers?

I'd invest in you - I still think you're very clever.

If there was a 'Darwin Award' for business acumen, this would surely win the 2009 award.

Commercial suicide by selling out.

Hello not so innocent.

I bought innocent products - at a premium - because of the good they represented

It made me feel good - like recycling and not taking plastic carrier bags at the supermarket and buying RSPCA freedom food endorsed meat and all the little things we do to not feel like greedy abusers on this planet, even though we are.

I knitted hundreds of little wooly hats for smoothie bottles

I read your newsletter eagerly every week

Not anymore

I will not buy another Innocent product

Coke is a brand that is responsible for so much - well documented human rights infringements - health issues

Their money is dirty money

even a little tiny little bit of it is too much for you to have taken.

30 pieces of silver this Easter tide - eh?

I always bought a couple of litres of Innocent smoothie every week - despite being a student, I was prepared to spend more than the other brands of smoothie because of your ethics. Now I'm not sure it's worth the extra cost...

All I have to say is


BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

No more innocent products for me...

Sorry guys, no more 'innocent' smoothies for me. If you guys don't get why you've made a lot of your customers angry, then you deserve to lose them.

Poor decision, poor choice of company and the wringing of the innocent hands in the videos above is sad to watch.

Bye guys.

Wow what an amazing recation you have generated, it shows how successful you have been in creating a brand with such passionate and loyal followers, really well done on that.

It does seem folly not to have considered a public sale to these passionate loyal customers (like me) to raise £30m rather than going this route.

You are clearly not stupid people, so i am sure that you considered a public sale. So i can only conclude that this is more about the distribution and cheaper packaging that Coke offers you rather than the £30m which you could have easily raised elsewhere.

It now seems this a simple equation of the cost of the brand damage you have done vs the benefit of higher margin\ greater distribution brought by the Coke connection.

It will be interesting to see if you have got your calculations right on this occasion!

I like many others have unfortunately lost my emotional attachment to your excellent products.

Utter madness. I now can't buy your product anymore. And I liked it, too! You've completely destroyed your USP.

innocentcustomers@overreactions.com

i was upset when i heard about this, but then i went out and bought some diet coke and thought - what's the hassle? yr all just upset with yrselfs that the world is horrible and isn't all folksy and dreamlike.

grow up.

I also have to say that i'm not even angry, but rather sad.

Innocent used to be a company you could be proud of supporting by buying smoothies and orange juice. Not any more :( I do not buy coca cola products, and you have just joined the list :(

As much as I would like to support you at the good stuff you do, I will not support anything that coca cola touched. Obviously money is not the issue here, as your products are for more wealthy customers, and I was paying that little more extra because I thought it made a difference. Now when the difference is not there, I see no reason to pay more...

So, I'm really sorry to say that, but you have lost one more customer and I think you will soon see, that it was really not worth it.

Coca-Cola already swallowed my dear and wonderful Odwalla. If you remember, nearly 7 years ago I wrote to you fab Innocent folks (when you only had 3 offerings) and told you that I adored you for being so true to your brand and not tuning out your customers the way my Santa Cruz Odwalla friends had done.

My biggest question is this:

You have such amazingly dedicated and loyal customers. I'm one and I do not even LIVE in a place where I can drink your fab drinks. Yet I fly over for Fruitstock and talk about your drinks on my blog.

Why didn't you offer an IPO to your customers? If you truly only needed a 10% investment to grow the business in Europe, why not ask the very people who adore you?

I would have gladly given you $$$$. I mean this from the very bottom of my very naked heart.

It seems short-sighted on the part of a very earth-loving and body-loving company to accept money from an earth-raping conglomerate like Coca-Cola.

I believe you believed you did due diligence. I do. But I just still wonder why you didn't actually consider the very folks who love you most?

*sigh*

Erm guys – thanks for doing this. But as a deaf person, this post is useless! Any chance of a transcript?

This is really sad. I won't be buying Innocent drinks any more. Such a shame. Please try harder guys.

It's funny isn't it, how one little thing can change how you act for the rest of your life. When I was a kid (many many years ago!) I remember reading about McDonalds and what they were doing to the rainforest, cutting it down to graze their beef. I refused to go in ever again (no real loss there!). Then as a teenager I saw a picture of a mouse pinned alive to a wooden board, with its skin shaved, just so L'Oreal could test sun cream. And not only have I never touched any of their products since then, whenever I see a celebrity endorsing L'Oreal they seriously go down in my estimation.

When The Body Shop was sold to L'Oreal I stopped shopping there, when Green and Blacks was bought by Cadbury's I was a little saddened. Then this. I know Coke haven't completely bought the company, but I don't get what is in it for them, if they are not getting profit.

Like many of the other people who have posted here I had developed a real love for the Innocent brand, for what it stood for and for how it made me feel. Maybe I am too naive, BUT I can't help thinking that if you are going to make a unique selling point of your company ethics then you need to stand by them!

I have one carton of Not-So-Innocent-Any-More smoothie left. I have a feeling it will be the last. Like Sunshine did, I think I will make my own from now on :(

I'm sorry Rich, neither your email nor your video clips have done anything to clear the unpleasant taste left behind by this investment. Honestly, if you truly believe Coca cola to be worthy bedfellows then Innocent was never the company that you led us to believe it was.

SHAME ON YOU
but I guess you`re not concerned about losing your ethical customers or you wouldn`t have sold to a corporate company with such a shocking track record. I just hope you`ll be disclosing this information on your smoothie cartons, so people who aren`t aware have the right to choose not to purchase a product which Coca Cola has shares in.

Is Richard going to answer the points made by Mark Thomas? http://www.markthomasinfo.com/

If there is even a remote possibility that these allegations are true (and if they weren't I would guess that Coke would have slapped an injunction on him or sued him for libel quicker than you can say "E Numbers") then Innocent cannot take money from Coke and remain innocent. It's an absolute contradiction.

Can Richard tell consumers what independent research he has done - not the stuff that Coke has told him - what independent research he has done about the human rights, environmental and health controversies that surround Coke? Has he personally disproved them?

I don't mean to be flippant either, but the fact that Richard has repeatedly misspelt 'Colombia'(and 'inquiries') doesn't send out a signal that he is taking it that seriously.

It is also an absolute contradiction that Innocent have taken £30m made by selling a chemically enhanced, unhealthy drink and still evangelise about their healthyness. There is simply no denying that, I find it flabberghasting that Richard is even trying to justify this decision. I can't decide whether it makes him look incredibly naive, stupid or talking in Orwellian newspeak. Either way, it's not innocent.

Hi Deafinitely Girly,

Sorry for this mistake on our part. We'll try and get a transcript to all of Rich's answers up as soon as we can early next week. Thanks for pointing this out to us.

So much for all of your "brand loyalty". As soon as the company made a decision that you all didn't like, you instantly jump up and say you'll no longer buy the products. Comments on here saying that they didn't think the smoothies were as good as others, but they bought them out of loyalty - nonsense.
Good luck innocent - many will continue to support your products which I have no doubt will be as good as they always have been.

What a shame! Another sell-out, and you are just offering petty excuses. Won't buy any of your products any longer.

Most of us (and I mean most by a large margin) didn't have questions so much as express our horror, disgust, unease, dismay, disappointment and sadness at the sell out to a corporation, populated by good people, that acts in a way that we (your ex-customers) find to be despicable.

Once upon a time, around 1997, a nation voted with hope. Hope that began to descend along familiar paths only 6 months later.

In 1999 a bunch of guys started a smoothie company. Throughout their business history one of their many ethical mantras was their business would 'grow organically'.

My work has led me through the WHO, IMF and international decision making, so imagine my response to innocent selling out to Coca-Cola!

To those who dismiss the above responses as hypocritical or pointless: Of course the world is not a nice place but many of us choose to support bravery that sets itself up against 'the rest'. Individually we are alone and useless but together, donating to causes or buying an ethical product, we become a voice of opinion.

In these days we are living in we can see such opinion IS making a difference.

innocent - you have lost so much of our support; the extra cost we were willing to pay for. But there has been The Body Shop, there has been Green & Blacks and now there is innocent but there will be others.

For such success to commit such a sell out and to such an unethical company is extremely sad but life is full of such disappointments.

innocent, you are another on of them. We wave good-bye and leave you to your conscience as we try to keep ours. Barbara Proctor - commenting above- you're absolutely right :/

I've just signed up for the AGM - I suggest everyone else does too.

I will no longer be a customer of Innocent Smoothies, respected their business model, natural & healthy policies but I do not buy coca cola products or things associated with it. I hope that Innocent really do manage to keep their integrity in check, but who knows what happens when you start to get into the wider market - more about profit that morals...

it's like the McD's thing again.

surely it's not such a bad thing that some of Innocent's awesomeness might rub off on Coke? it's quite nice that the money of something perhaps less innocent, like Coke, is going to help the ultimate innocent company to keep going and growing

:)

I'm no child who believes that corporate investment in "ethical" companies should never happen but the challenges are so much larger than for "normal" companies; Body Shop and L'Oreal being a good case in point - the products aren't tested on animals, but that rule might not extend to all the ingredients - unacceptable in my book - Lush gets my business now.

In this case, for me at least, Coke's minority shareholding is even more clear-cut than the Body Shop; Coke is not merely apathetic towards good ethical behaviour; it (and its direct subsidiaries) have behaved in a manner well documented and vilified throughout the world. I've been following the work of Mark Thomas for years now but, even having said that, his book Belching Out the Devil contained some truly shocking revelations. Perhaps you should have read it first.

As others have said, you've lost your USP. Since you can no longer claim the ethical tag and will be competing solely on price (I see you list your value deals now at Tesco and Sainsbury on your Web site), I shall look forward to your price plummeting so you can compete with these supermarkets' own brand choices. If you feel that your brand quirkiness warrants the higher price point then good luck to you but I shall not be supporting you in this. In the meantime, I shall look for a replacement provider of smoothies not connected with the intimidation and death of... dare I say it... innocents.

i'm glad to see that i am not the only person that is appalled by your decision to
join forces with the dark side!
you seem to not only have lost a lot of respect but quite a few customers... i for one will never purchase your products again!
& as soon as i have finished typing this i shall remove myself from your now not so innocent family!

i wouldn't be at all surprised now if you sold another part of the company to nestle!

Gosh - I came onto the site to comment on the new banana-free smoothie and came upon all this.
It's all been said, really, but:
I stopped shopping at the Body Shop when it was taken over by L'Oreal - I, too, go to LUSH .
I liked reading the comments on the Innocent cartons, and the quirkiness and the 'organicness' and the ethical stance.
Simply: with Coca Cola having a stake, that will all now be a pathetic, unbelievable joke and so, like many others, I will just buy a cheaper smoothie or make my own.

Okay, now I am a massive fan of innocent and personally boycott coca cola. I will continue to support innocent because, let's face it, if they maintain the original principles of the company, namely givin 10% profit to charity as well as promoting workers rights blah blah blah blah then they STILL stand out as an ethical company. The selling of those shares does upset me though and I agree that maybe taking the prospect to the customers would have been a much more "Innocent" thing to have done. Don't let this go further than it has PLEASE

Hi there,

S.Thomas placed this link above. I have just listened to it - an interview with Richard (one of the founders in the video above)talking about some of the views of Innocent and what they stand for in their serch for a minority stakeholder who he says should share the views of Innocent. It is well worth listening to so that a gauge of the hypocrisy in this union can be appreciated , especially hwen he states they would not do business with those who do not share their ethics and views.
In the interview Rich describes the use of the name Innocent to reflect the company's values as "pure, unadulterated, natural, guilt-free" (my favourite) and "goodness". He states Inocent aim to run their business in the "most socially and environmentally responsible way as possible".
Furthermore, he also states that they are "doing everything we can to make health accessible for people" - possibly. I am not sure Coke are.
It does not appear Coke do share their views and so I am a little perturbed as to in what manner their company ethics match.
Oh well.
At least Rich does acknowledge at the start of the interview that the company owes its thanks to the very loyal customers it has in the Uk for making it the company it is (or was) now. Shame they lied to all those same loyal customers over the past 10 years.

Bye bye, Innocent

I spot a gap in the market for a company that produces ethical drinks.... maybe I'll start a company... a cooperative perhaps... anyone care to join me?

Goodbye.

It looks as if the Coke question needs to be re-phrased. Let's try it like this:
What's in it for Coke?
What do they get for their 30 million?
Are you saying they just gave you 30 million for nothing?

I repeat, cos you don't seem to be answering the question:
What do Coke get out of this deal?

Mildly beffudled about this one. So i thought i'd see what happened next time i went shopping. I did in fact buy a smoothie, because it's handy fruit in a carton and the rest of the choice is rubbish. Only bought one though and not two as normal. So, I guess I shall keep buying now and again, perhaps.

Innocent smoothies taste good! If you agree: buy them! Life's too short to whine about whether innocent have sold out.

Taking money from Coke, and therefore allowing the business to grow, means more money being given to charity in the long run = good.

Innocent put money into researching reyclable packaging and increasingly sustainable products, which no other smoothie company to my knowledge is doing. So I think that makes them worth buying over alternative bottled smoothies.

Also, you guys seem to have a problem sharing such a delicious product with the rest of the world. If they taste good, people buy them, company grows. You seem to think this is avoidable??

So yeah. I'm not gonna live without the purple superfood one. You wanna find a sustainable source of acai berries in Guildford or wherever, good luck to ya :P

i'm still struggling to understand the potential benefits for Coca-Cola in this deal. i guess if they receive no profit, then all they have are the shares, and they are viewing this as an investment and will later sell the shares for more than they bought them for, rather than as a new business venture. and thus it is worth Coke's while to see the company prosper in its own way, heck that might actually rub off on Coke. perhaps the money given to charity will have some impact on Coke's unethical treatment of farmers.

sadly though, one cannot escape the fact that all this will have been paid for with dirty money. can something good come from something bad? that is the real question we, as customers, need to ask ourselves before purchasing innocent goods in the future.

Noooo?! Say it ain't so Innocent, say it ain't so!

:'(

*weeps*

Domesticly my partner and I spend between 1000 and 1500 pounds a year on your product. Furthermore we insist on supplying it for any photo shoots, catwalk shows, film shoots and presentations that we are involved in; probably another 3-4000 pounds. An annual 5000 spend may seem like a drop in the ocean compared to 30m discussed but it is nonetheless 5000 that I will no longer feel comfortable providing. I always found your cheeky scripts on the containers annoying but genuine and therefore admirable and entertaining like the boy at the back of the class who cant help making fart noises or innuendo that makes all the other kids laugh. Reading them now will seem no less cynical than the creepy 'zaniness' of Ronald McDonald. As my uncle used to say, you seem to have been 'hoist by your own petard'.

Hello,

About Coca Cola, how can you say they are decent with an Ethical Score (Ethical Consumer) of 3.5/20 (where decency comes with scores higher than 10)?? The Ethical Consumer go to great deal when researching companies and working out their ethical scores. The Coca Cola score has come out, rightly, being very close to those of Tesco, Barclays and Exxonmobil...some of the worst companies on earth ever.

Plus, how can you say that your products are 100% natural if they are not even organic? As a son of a farmer I am familiar with the huge quantities of chemicals that are used in conventional farming but am I missing something here? A research into Rainforest Alliance showed me that they are not even chemical-free (let alone organic certified) and they allow a wide use of chemicals.

Now, you might have your good reason for taking some decisions and doing what you do but it would be nice of you a bit less propaganda and a bit more honesty.

If indeed I am missing something, than my apologies will be certainly due. For now, after having bought about roughly 10L/week of your otherwise excellent smoothies, I realize that I cannot buy any longer into your "innocent" spin.

After all, there are other organic companies selling excellent smoothies too in the market.

Thank you for your attention,
Gio

How on earth can you call coca cola "decent people"

http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=69606281995&h=c9osx&u=R91OV

http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=87398088687&h=SH4u2&u=exgAD

You will not "wag the dog". But as you have made your bed with them you will get fleas!

If you're happy about taking money from a company that starves third world countries of water in order to make a profit then there is nothing more to say.


Wow... interesting discussion and comments.

I am still a bit doubtful about the whole deal. Somehow it seems that every healthy growing juice company comes to a point where it has to choose for either Pepsi Co. or Coca Cola Co. Whether that is a choice that can be made deliberately is another question. I think it is extremely hard to survive on one's own in this industry and the last few months must (also for innocent) been hard.

BUT... the segment innocent is in is one that has future advantages and it might be interesting to ask the question whether a company like innocent would have had the potential to lead a third division of the market: one that follows their initial credo: "pure, unadulterated, natural, guilt-free and good".

With more and more focus on whole foods that should be something to think about. Yet again that is something which would only be possible when the 2 giants allow it. Who is there to tame them? In the end it is the consumer, but do we actually know how far (how many sub-brands) the tentacles of the 2 big ones reach? How many products would we have to cut from our daily shopping in order to boycott them and make way for a new 'big' player?

And then there is the next question: how long would it take before a new 'big' player becomes "evil"?

It is extremely interesting to see this difficult dilemma of how to stay in control, remain integer and to survive on one's own against growing big under the wing of...

Really curious how the situation will be in one year's time.

Good luck guys.

It's really unlike me to want to post on any of these discussion forums, but I wanted to share some thoughts from another of your loyal and regular customers.

I really love your smoothies - especially the seasonal ones that we order through our online supermarket and that gets replaced every few months with a completely new recipe without warning (from the supermarket at least) like some kind of beverage lucky dip.

And (perhaps strangely to all of you) I'm also a coca-cola fan - thanks to whatever magic ingredients they put in Coca Cola, it became my favourite fizzy drink many years ago, and shows no sign of being offset.

But those are meant to be two different worlds. I love the fact that Innocent felt innocent - my whole family enjoy your smoothies, and it feels like we're supporting a business that makes a great product and has fun doing so.

My coca cola world is me funding a small part of a big corporation, but I knoow that's what I'm doing and so it doesn't feel wrong.

This investment does feel wrong. It feels like it's just injected a little cynicsm into your business - and that's something your business really shouldn't have.

I think we'll still want to drink Innocent smoothies, but we probably won't go out of our way to do so. M&S make a couple of nice ones, so perhaps we can break the addicton with a quick visit to them.

Good luck.

This whole debate is fascinating and I look forward to watching what happens next. I really do hope Innocent can influence Coke in a positive way.

There's some interesting articles about the deal on the Marketing Week website: go to www.marketingweek.com and type "innocent" into the search box.

As requested above - transcript please!

And where's the coke can in the video footage! ;)

More seriously, Mark Thomas penned an open letter to you some time ago now...I've seen absolutely no response to the points he has made. Surely with all the due diligence you did, you'd be able to address the accusations he's made easily? I would have thought the concerns he has and research he has done would have matched that doen by an ethical company concerned about who they were getting into bed with.

Or does your silence mean your new fizzy friends have stopped providing excuses once the questions get a little more difficult?

Or perhaps, was your due diligence more along the lines of: how many consumers we'll lose vs how much money we're getting from Coke?

You seem to be picking and choosing the posts you response to - and sending out the same response to anyone who emails you, so not expecting anything other than the new corporate communication approach to your consumers anymore.

Forget it the real questions will never get answered, we will just get patronised with this guff.

When I heard the news about Coke taking a stake in Innocent, my heart sank.

We are supposed to standing against those big corporate companies like Coke, and making the world a better place in the process.

The fun, clean brand of Innocent has just vanished for me. When I received the weekly mailout this morning I really had no time for it at all - it feels so shallow now. I will be unsubscribing as soon as I finish writing this comment.

All my love for innocent has been lost. Let's all hope that another ethical smoothie company can succeed where Innocent has failed.

Just as an update, since hearing the news I have:

Found alternatives to drink at work, instead of Innocent, meaning you've lost around 4L of business a week from me.

Also chosen not to buy Innocent on three occasions while travelling on business this week alone - and picked up an alternative instead.

As previously proved, my maths is rubbish, so you can work out my tiny contribution to your lost profit - and then multiply it by however many negative responses you've had so far.

How much do you reckon over a year if we all stick to our guns to boycott Innocent?

What's in it for Coke?

I'm really disappointed in the choice of company to invest in Innocent. Coca Cola are, in short, unethical.

However, I don't fully agree with a boycott of Innocent.

Innocent is still ethical, so long as Coca Cola do not have a say in the running of the business or a share of the profit, and Innocent do not change their ethical policies.

A Boycott of Innocent is saying to Coca Cola ''You're right, Coca Cola, you can't make profit by being ethical''

On the other hand, I also refuse to buy anything associated with Coca Cola. I'm torn in a moral dilemma.


It still begs the question:
What's in it for Coca Cola?

I think its simple to see what coke get out of it. Currently they have bought 20% of a private company at £30 million, currently valuing the company at £120 million.

Once the inevitable happens and Innocent float and become listed publically, depending on the share price value (estimated at approximately 400 or so million) they are set to make a tidy profit, turning their 30 into around 120 when the time is right and no doubt buying a controlling interest (over 50%) giving them eventual ownership and an excellent platform to take on pepsi (aka tropicana). The founders walk away (or stay on as 'cool' figureheads) and each pocket £100 million, leaving a bit left over for the remaining staff share owners sweating it out on below average salaries.

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