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May 20, 2009

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Can you do a text version, please? These are deaf/hard-of-hearing unfriendly.

Hello Helen.

We're looking into get all of the answers transcribed into text at the minute. As the AGM was held on Saturday afternoon we wanted to get the Q&A clips edited and uploaded as soon as we could to share with everyone. Unfortunately we're not able to get the transcripts done until we had the final video clips so couldn't put both up at the same time.

Are we allowed to discuss the Q&A questions relating to the coke deal here, or will it be limited to the Coke investment threads?

thanks, Ted

innocent's spin master, Richard, gives a number of misleading statements in his response to the longer coke question.

e.g. "they (Coke) got voted the 4th most ethical corporation in the world" - presumably based on the 2007 One World Trust report, which evaluated only 10 corporations and seems based on what they say, not what they do. It is also a measure accountability, not of ethics.

or that they were the "most honest" potential investors - despite recently being forced to correct misleading adverts http://tinyurl.com/djro2c amongst many other allegations of misconduct http://tinyurl.com/kk8xh

It is also claimed that Coke 'gave $100 million to charity & sought no publicity', yet the money is actually given to 'community projects' (unclear how much is to charities) & is pretty well promoted. Indeed some may see this as a component of Coke's incredible advertising budget - reported to be around $2 billion annually.

Also it's claimed that Coke were willing to put in the money "with no strings attached", yet a senior Coke executive (James Quincey) is reported to have joined the innocent investment board. Furthermore, innocent have seemingly not denied suggestions that the deal involves Coke having preferable terms on any future sale of innocent.

I accept that Coke have done some positive things & they have a massive influence. I hope they become a genuinely progressive company - but it seems disingenuous to suggest that they are currently a leading ethical company.

Richard claims that "the last thing I want to do is sit here and be a representative for Coca-Cola"

I hope the founders reflect on that & return to the values that drew so many people to 'innocent' in the first place.

the last thing I want to do is sit here and be a representative for Coca-Cola"


And yet that is how you come across. Would you care to make your "research" public so we can all see just how deeply you investigated Coca Cola or did you just believe everything they told you.

Also you make absolutely no mention of Cokes involvement in India and the sapping of crucial water supplies and the resultant pollution. I'm afraid you now appear as nothing more than a mouthpiece for a grossly un ethical company based on selective research

Hardly "Innocent" at all

Great response, Rich. I guess you're never going to be able to convince everyone. P.S. luv the new green smoothie!

I must admit to being really surprised to hear about the consultation you did with some NGOs and Richard's "mate from Greenpeace". It's made all the more remarkable that over all the time you've been criticised about the deal and asked to present evidence of the diligence you did, this research has never been mentioned - or even hinted at.

Getting a bit bored of all this now! The guys have been completely open about all this and rightly given everyone a chance to air their views, which most other businesses wouldn't have done (innocent IS a business believe it or not!). I was at the AGM and heard Rich's answer face to face and there was nothing 'spin' about it. I also spoke to some of the staff and am convinvced that this has been the best move for the future of innocent. The answer the guys gave to my question also makes me confident that the things we love about innocent are not going to change. Please can we move on now?!

I'm afraid that if you make a deal with the Devil then people are unwilling to move on until all their questions have been answered. This has certainly NOT been the case here. There are many unanswered questions to this letter http://www.markthomasinfo.com/
(scroll down for the letter)

And while people are having posts deleted because they make disparaging remarks about the Coca Cola Company this simply raises more suspicion.

For the record my post regarding the Coca Cola Company contained no swear words, no links to any pages that contained swear words and yet it was still deleted.

@Lucy. I don't think the main criticism of the answers is that they are spin - just that Innocent seems to continue to ignore very specific questions, while giving the same general answers to all questions.

If your concern is Innocent will change things - the way it markets the product, the grass on the van, the cute messages, the money to charity, the recyling and sustainability, then yes, your concerns may have been addressed.

However my concerns, and I'm pretty sure other people's concerns, differ from yours. And they haven't been addressed.

They concern not only the deep implications of the Coke deal - rather than the surface stuff - but also the long term future of Innocent, rather than just the next year or two.

At what point will you question the Coke deal and take action to express your views? Now, or when it's announced it's acquired a controlling stake, or indeed the whole shooting match?

i wont question the coke deal at all. if its a choice between innocent making a business decision about THEIR business or going under then i leave it up to them and buy the smoothies. if you dont like it, buy somebody elses smoothies or go change the world elsewhere. we've heard it all before. do you think that anyone is going to read what you have written and not buy them anymore? anyone who is 'into' innocent as a brand will already know this. I think innocent do a lot of good, both for the health of their consumers and through their charitable donations. If you want them to go bust then thats your concern. I am assuming that you are posting these barbs from your sattelite link phone in the depths of some war torn country where you are spending your life making things better for others. if not, please go away because you are curdling the juice!

@ Nicky - Everyone should be allowed to voice their opinions/questions. If Paul and Matt (and others) don't feel their questions have been answered satisfactorily, then they have every right to continue posting until they have either been answered, or have been told they are never going to get an answer. You should comment on people's comments, but try not to comment on them personally.
Anyone can see that innocent do a lot of good work, make tasty products etc...

I guess my questions would be pretty simple:

1. When you signed the deal did innocent know about the Coke issues in India and Columbia?

2. If yes, did you figure these issues weren't relevant to your deal?

3. If no, why didn't you know about them?

4. And finally, knowing about those issues now, how do you feel about having done the deal?

your recent product indian daal curry and Thia curry, was excellent as Indian woman that is great vote of confidence

Just a quick comment to say thank you to everyone for posting their comments. We appreciate people taking the time to share their views; we've read every single one.

We knew it was important for us to be transparent about the Coke investment, because we suspected some people would have strong views. That is why we announced the deal on the front page of the website the day it happened, and why we posted about it on our blog, sent it out in our newsletter, told the media and answered their questions, responded to all the emails we got sent, posted a FAQ section on the site answering questions raised by our drinkers, and hosted an AGM where people could ask about the deal and then filmed the results, which are on this site.

Hopefully the majority of people feel that we have been open about the deal. To those that think we should have done more, we apologise. We've done what we can and we have to balance the time spent on explaining our business decisions with the fact that we've got to get on with running the business and making our smoothies. As such, this is going to be our last post on the subject for now, unless anything material changes.

It's worth reiterating that the promises we have made about innocent (to make only natural, healthy food; to push for more sustainable ingredients and production techniques; to donate more to charity) will not change with this deal. In fact, we will do them more.

And for those people still unhappy/unsure about us doing the deal, could we ask you to maybe (temporarily) reserve judgement. Check back in a year's time to see if we've changed for the worst or whether we're continuing to do the things we've always promised to do. You may be pleasantly surprised.


Thanks.

Rich
Co-founder

Thanks Richard,
It's fair to say that innocent have allowed discussion of the Coke deal, even if some questions have remained unanswered.

I hope innocent will always stick to its promises. It's noticeable that packaging for recently introduced products has been less sustainable. I hope these can be made environmentally friendly. It would also be good to see transparent figures for amounts donated to specific charities each year.

I really hope that there is still an independent innocent in five years time. This will depend upon whether the founders resist the temptation to sell a controlling share to Coke.

Best wishes to all at innocent / Paul

We've just uploaded a text transcript of all of the AGM Q&A questions here...

http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/AGM/qa-2009/transcripts/

"There's no question you guys can ask that we won't answer." - Richard Reed, Q&A transcript

"As such, this is going to be our last post on the subject for now, unless anything material changes." Richard Reed, see above.

Don't think there is much more which needs to be said?

Finally got one answer to a very long standing question.

Apparently the blog posting celebrating Richard's Coke taunting appearance on Channel Four news was removed due to the link to the C4 video no longer being valid.

Seems a perfectly likely explanation to me. Perfectly likely that it would be just before the deal was announced that someone spotted the link was down and removed that post. Also perfectly likely that no other broken link posting, except the Coke one, would be removed (have a check, I spent ten minutes cruising the old blogs and found at least 10 dead links!).

Come on chaps, if it's going to take you a month and a half to come up with an excuse, make it a good one at least! ;)

Indeed, it's fairly clear why this blog criticising Coke was deleted. The channel 4 link is still live, so this seems a particularly lame excuse for deleting the blog:

http://www.channel4.com/player/v2/player.jsp?showId=2229

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