Does Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) really have the gall to play the environmental card?
When SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE:SEAS) opens the new Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin ride at SeaWorld Orlando on Friday, it will do so with a proprietary soda.
The leading beverage giant and the marine life theme park operator will be teaming up to introduce Vanilla South Pole Chill as a carbonated vanilla-based soft drink that will only be available inside the penguin-themed habitat and attraction.
An important aspect of the drink will be the unique refillable penguin character cups. They're not cheap at $10 apiece, but they come with RFID chips that measure the carbon dioxide being spared when going for a refill in a reused cup. Coca-Cola and SeaWorld claim that 27 grams of CO2 are saved this way, and the two are hammering home the green message by donating $1 from each "Cup That Cares" to the park's not-for-profit conservation fund.
Really? Just wait until SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA) hears about this.
SodaStream has made it a sport of calling out Coca-Cola in the past for the anti-environmental nature of canned and bottled pop. One of SodaStream's selling points is that the beverage system that turns still water into carbonated soda can save 2,000 cans and bottles of soda a year for a typical household. It's at the very heart of the SodaStream television commercials, with soda bottles bursting, that have been airing since late last year.
Even though SodaStream specifically called out Coca-Cola and PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) in the banned Super Bowl commercial that's been running these days, it's been Coca-Cola that has publicly fought back. Coca-Cola threatened to sue SodaStream for a traveling cage exhibit that showcases the number of bottles and cans thrown out annually by a typical family. SodaStream used the cease-and-desist threat to amplify its message.
SeaWorld has no shortage of activists rallying against the theme park's killer whale habitats, but the environmental message -- or the conservation fund -- doesn't necessarily seem hypocritical. It is strange, though, to see Coca-Cola tied to the preservation message.
What's the point, anyway? Are park guests being encouraged to go with reusable cups for future soda consumption? Doesn't that mean that SeaWorld and Coca-Cola are actually doing SodaStream's marketing here?
SodaStream wins again, and it hasn't had to lift a single finger this time.