New York City, N.Y., Sep 6, 2013 / 01:07 pm (CNA).- Coca-Cola saw its stock value drop yesterday as the boycott against the soft-drink giant has spread across Spain and into Latin America over statements by its CEO in Spain, Marcos De Quinto.
In what has been labeled a direct attack on Christians, De Quinto, president of Coca-Cola Spain, hurled insults at life and family defense groups in response to a campaign by the religious liberty organization HazteOir.org to fight a controversial Spanish reality show.
During the program “Summer Camp,” a version of “Survivor,” one of the female contestants was made to strip to her underwear and jump into a pool of melted chocolate, while the host invited her fellow contestants to lick the chocolate off of her.
HazteOir.org successfully convinced several companies – including McDonald's and Burger King – to withdraw their ads from the show. However, Coca-Cola declined to pull its ads, and De Quinto responded to those who objected to the sponsorship by calling them “fanatics” and “intolerant,” and accusing them of launching a “guerrilla-style” attack against Coca-Cola.
“May God spare us from groups like ‘The Guardians of the Faith,’ who want to tell us what TV shows to watch, what books and newspapers to read, what party to vote for,” De Quinto said on Twitter.
He also used the social media site to tell HazteOir.org president, Ignacio Arsuaga, “If having to think like you is the price I have to pay for you to keep drinking Coca-Cola, I prefer you don’t drink it.”
The comments sparked outcry in the Spanish-speaking world, and the Twitter hashtag #BoikotCocacola became a trending topic in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama, as hundreds of Twitter users announced their decision to stop buying the products until De Quinto retracts his statements.
In an article yesterday for the website DailyFinance.com, Wall Street analyst Amanda Alix noted that “Coca-Cola has fallen into the red today, a somewhat surprising follow-up to its performance yesterday.”
Noting the possibility of a widespread boycott, she said that De Quito’s Twitter response will likely “only inflame the anti-Coke sentiment even further.”
Ben Bouckley of BeverageDaily.com said the growth of the boycott against Coca-Cola in the Spanish-speaking world is clearly “bad news for Coca-Cola.”
A Coca-Cola spokesman told Bouckley that “there has been a misunderstanding of Mr. De Quinto's earlier statements on Twitter. As one of the world's most inclusive brands, Coca-Cola has a long established reputation of respect for all people – regardless of race, religion or gender.”
However, HazteOir.org president Ignacio Arsuaga said his organization is considering filing a lawsuit over the Twitter comments. De Quinto accused Arsuaga of belonging to a “mafia sect” made up of “criminals” who “hack into websites” and are “outside the law.” Hazteoir.org denied that it has engaged in criminal actions.
Arsuaga told CNA that the group has “been initially told that there are sufficient grounds for suing for slander and libel” and added that HazteOir.org is “still looking over the messages Marcos De Quinto posted on Twitter.”