• Coca-Cola apologizes to Tacoma family for 'You Retard' message

    By: David Ham


    TACOMA, Wash. - Doug Loates said he was astonished when his daughter in Edmonton, Canada texted him a picture of a Vitamin Water cap with the words "You Retard" printed on it.

    "I said, 'Is that real?' She said, 'Yeah, it was on my bottle of water that I got that's made by Coke,' and I said, 'You've got to be kidding,'" said Loates, who lives in Tacoma.

    He is particularly offended because his 11-year-old daughter Fiona, who lives with him in Tacoma, is living with cerebral palsy and autism.

    "The R word is not in our lexicon in our family. We don't allow it. We don't want people to say it," said Loates.

    Coca-Cola said the words, which were printed under the caps, were part of a promotional campaign in Canada, where English words were randomly matched with French words.

    In French the word retard translates to late or delayed.

    "Not everybody in Canada speaks French. I don't speak French, I'm from Canada, but I don't speak French," said Loates.

    A spokesperson from Coca-Cola emailed us this statement on the matter:

    "We sincerely apologize for inadvertently offending anyone. We take every consumer concern very seriously. This is a genuine oversight in the review process. The mistake has been corrected and the words removed from all future production.

    The mistake occurred in anticipation of a potential consumer promotion for glacéau vitaminwater in Canada. We started printing random combinations of English and French words under the caps of glacéau vitaminwater. The top word English and the bottom, a different word in French. Regretfully, the French words were not reviewed from an English standpoint. In this case a French word, despite an innocuous meaning in French but an offensive meaning in English, made the production list of words. 

    This word should have been removed due to the English connotations and we have taken immediate action to thoroughly investigate this matter and to stop producing bottles with the offending caps. This was a genuine mistake in the review process and we sincerely apologize," said Shannon Denny, director of brand communications, Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada.

    Since Loates' letter was posted on Facebook, it's been shared and commented on hundreds of times.

    "Numerous people on Facebook have said, 'I use that word all the time and now that I could put a face, Fiona's face, I won't use it anymore,' so we've won," said Loates.

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