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Coke Ending ‘MagiCan’ Promotion Because of Bad Publicity

June 1, 1990 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Coca-Cola Co. said Thursday it is ending its ″MagiCan″ promotion after bad publicity over mechanical problems with some of the prize-filled soft drink cans.

The company had intended to distribute 750,000 of the special cans throughout the summer, but spokesman Randy Donaldson confirmed that shipments had been halted. About 200,000 cans have been shipped so far, he said.

″We are winding it down early,″ Donaldson said.

The promotion, part of a $100 million ″Magic Summer″ campaign that also includes prize-bearing cups and an endorsement by the pop group New Kids on The Block, has been plagued by reports of defective cans.

Though only about 70 complaints had been received by Coke, Donaldson said, ″There is the impression we don’t like among our consumers that there is a problem with the promotion.″

The spokesman said news reports about the problem cans wasn’t a factor in the decision.

The move to kill the promotion came one week after Coca-Cola ran full-page advertisements in newspapers across the nation acknowledging the problems and explaining how the prize cans work.

Donaldson said ads would be run on network television Thursday night announcing the promotion was coming to an end. The ads tell consumers that only a few prize cans are left on the market and that they will be ″going, going, gone by mid-June,″ the spokesman said.

The randomly distributed prize cans look like regular cans of Coca-Cola Classic but contain a mechanism that ejects either cash or prize certificates. The bottom end of the can was filled with chlorinated water to make it feel like the real thing.

Some consumers reported that the prize mechanism jammed, keeping it from ejecting. And in some cases the chlorinated water, which tastes bad but is said to be harmless, leaked.

There was speculation that Coke could be vulnerable to product liability lawsuits.

Coke said last week that the mechanical problems had been corrected.

Other aspects of the ″Magic Summer″ promotion, which began May 7, are to continue, Donaldson said. He said the cans that already are on the market should be sold by mid June.