Did Coca-Cola produce and disseminate soda cans with the slogan "Try to be less white" featured on the side? No, that's not true: A spokesperson for the beverage company told Lead Stories that such cans were never made. The claim follows controversy from February 2021 over diversity training material available to Coca-Cola employees that included content encouraging them to be "less white."
The slogan claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published on June 8, 2021. The post included an image of a Coca-Cola can with the phrase "Try to be less white" on the side. The caption reads:
Look at this shit no more coke for me
This is what the post looked like on Facebook on June 11, 2021:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Jun 11 15:45:59 2021 UTC)
The supposed slogan references the controversy surrounding diversity training material on LinkedIn Learning that was accessible to Coca-Cola employees in 2021. Karlyn Borysenko, an organizational psychologist who engages in political commentary, broke the story through a series of tweets on February 19, 2021. The Twitter thread can be found here. The first tweet in the thread with photographic evidence of the existence of the material is embedded below:
🚨🚨🚨 BREAKING: Coca-Cola is forcing employees to complete online training telling them to "try to be less white."-- Karlyn Borysenko, most dangerous knitter alive 🧶 (@DrKarlynB) February 19, 2021
These images are from an internal whistleblower: pic.twitter.com/gRi4N20esZ
Following the backlash, Coca-Cola released a statement on February 20, 2021, claiming that "The video in question was accessible on the LinkedIn Learning platform but was not part of the company's curriculum." Later, Coca-Cola issued an apologetic statement on March 2, 2021, that opened:
The goal of our diversity training is to help build a better workplace, one that is respectful for all. Recently, we learned that content accessible through our company training platform did not align with this approach. To be clear, this was not a part of our training curriculum and we immediately removed the links to that content.
We apologize to those who were offended by this content. We would never encourage anyone to be any less of themselves.
The course containing the material, titled "Confronting Racism," has since been removed from LinkedIn Learning.
In an email to Lead Stories on June 11, 2021, Ann L. Moore, communications director at The Coca-Cola Company, said:
The mock Coca-Cola can appearing in some social media feeds was not created, distributed or authorized by The Coca-Cola Company. And suggestions that we had the can made are false.
The image featured in the Facebook post is most likely digitally manipulated to include the phrase "Try to be less white."
Lead Stories has previously debunked claims about Coca-Cola controversies, including the false claim that The Coca-Cola Company's CEO James Quincy said that "A few right winged NUTS won't effect out bottom line."