Budget & Finance

Coca-Cola Cans Exclusive Contracts

By Mark Walsh — March 21, 2001 2 min read

The Coca-Cola Co. is taking some of the fizz out of its school marketing program.

The Atlanta-based soft drink giant announced last week that it will no longer require districts to sign exclusive beverage contracts that shut out the sale of competing brands on school premises.

Such contracts have proliferated in the past five years. Districts typically receive a cut of soft drink sales, sometimes in the millions of dollars, depending on the size of the school system and length of the contract. In exchange, the producers, particularly Coke, the Pepsi-Cola Co., and the Dr Pepper Co., gain exclusive access to schools for machine and fountain sales. (“Schools Are Latest Front in Cola Wars,” April 8, 1998.)

But the contracts have been heavily criticized for putting schools in the position of promoting and profiting from the sale of non-nutritious soft drinks. There are rumblings in Congress about giving the federal government more power to restrict such sales in schools, and a bill under consideration in Maryland would prohibit exclusive soft drink contracts.

Pursuit of the best deal has “diverted educators from their primary mission,” Jeffrey T. Dunn, the president of Coca-Cola North America, said March 14 in announcing the shift.

Coke will encourage its bottlers, which are independent companies, to seek nonexclusive agreements that still provide a percentage of sales to schools. Coke will also tone down the signs on its in-school machines, company officials said. Instead of large Coke logos, the machines will feature graphics of students or athletics.

“Schools are a special environment,” Mr. Dunn said. “The pendulum, from a commercialism standpoint, has swung too far.”

More Choices

The company also will encourage making more juices and bottled water available for sale, although “we believe carbonated beverages can be part of a healthy diet,” Mr. Dunn said.

He added that Coke wouldn’t be removing its logos from the many high school scoreboards that bear them. “Coke scoreboards go back about 60 years,” Mr. Dunn said.

Pepsi indicated last week that it also would encourage nonexclusive contracts.

Alex Molnar, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who has criticized the beverage contracts, said Coke was acting in its own interests.

“What we’re seeing with the change by Coca-Cola is a recognition that a growing segment of the public is disgusted by these deals,” he said.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2001 edition of Education Week as Coca-Cola Cans Exclusive Contracts

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Budget & Finance Districts Anxious About Plunge in Meal-Program Applicants
Free and reduced-price meal data is a key proxy for school poverty. But administrators say a drop in applications paints a false picture and could threaten funding.
6 min read
Karina Galan, a school bus driver with Mt. Diablo Unified School District, carries several bags of pre-packaged meals to distribute to a family in Concord, Calif. The district is stressing to parents the importance of filling out applications for participation in the free and reduced-price meals program at a time when the number of formal applications have dropped off.
Karina Galan, a school bus driver with Mt. Diablo Unified School District, carries several bags of pre-packaged meals to distribute to a family in Concord, Calif. The district is stressing to parents the importance of filling out applications for participation in the free and reduced-price meals program at a time when the number of formal applications have dropped off.
Brittany Hosea-Small for Education Week
Budget & Finance Tax Higher Incomes to Fund Schools? National Debate Gets Traction at the State Level
Arguments over an Arizona ballot measure mirror calls at the national level to raise taxes for "the 1 percent" to increase education funding.
3 min read
Budget & Finance Lawmakers Push Plan to Protect School Jobs From Pandemic Cuts
The new proposal resembles an education jobs program signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, but it would be much bigger.
4 min read
Budget & Finance Judge Orders Census Bureau to Keep Counting. Here's Why That Matters for Schools
Accurate census data is tied to billions of dollars of federal education aid. A federal judge told officials this week that they can't shorten the timeline for the count.
2 min read