Coca-Cola Co. is bringing red back for its annual holiday cans after a white design drew criticism from purists.
The world's largest beverage maker announced in October that it was turning its iconic red cans white as part of a campaign to protect polar bears and their habitat.
From November to March, Coca-Cola planned to add white bottle caps on several products and put out 1.4 billion of the white cans, which feature a family of polar bears and the company name in red.
It was the first time Coca-Cola had changed the color of its cans, and it hoped the striking departure would draw attention to its work with the World Wildlife Fund to protect the bears. But the change evoked a not very warm or fuzzy reaction from some Coke drinkers.
Some complained the new cans were too similar to Diet Coke's silver cans. Others thought the soda inside tasted different and went online to complain.
Coca-Cola says its formula has not changed, and it has heard from many consumers who like the white cans. The company says it's not pulling them from the market, just adding red cans to the mix in response to consumer requests.
The Atlanta-based company said more than 1 billion white cans already on the market will remain until they sell, and the white caps on some bottles of Coke, Diet Coke, Minute Maid and other drinks are staying for the rest of the promotion. Red cans with polar bears were expected to start arriving in stores Friday.
Spokesman Ben Sheidler said the company planned from the start to include the red cans in the campaign but chose not to discuss them at first.
"Bringing in the red can has also created a lot of stir, and people are talking," Schneider said. "That's exactly what we want to happen, is to have people talk about it and learn about the program."
The "Arctic Home" campaign aims to educate people about the polar bear and get them to help protect its Arctic habitat. Funds Coca-Cola raises will go toward the World Wildlife Fund's support for conservation, local communities and research tied to polar bears.
Coca-Cola is encouraging consumers to donate $1, which the beverage maker will match up to a total of $1 million. The company said it has raised $150,000 so far, including its matching funds. It also made a separate $2 million donation.
Coca-Cola has included polar bears in its advertising for several years. It said it has donated $1 million to the World Wildlife Fund for polar bear habitat conservation over the last four years.
Shares of Coca-Cola fell 45 cents Friday to close at $66.38 but regained $1.14, almost 2 percent, after hours.