Coca-Cola has filed a criminal complaint in Argentina against two unnamed executives working on behalf of Danone, the French food and beverage company, accusing them of orchestrating a two-year internet smear campaign against its Dasani drinking water.
It is believed to be one of the first cases in which a leading international company has taken legal action against another over the alleged use of web-based word-of-mouth marketing techniques to undermine its brands.
Coca-Cola launched its Dasani brand in Argentina in 2005, where Danone’s Evian brand is the leading bottled water. In December last year, Coca-Cola issued a public statement aimed at rebutting claims originating on the internet that the water could cause cancer and consisted of bottled tap water. “These claims made it into the mainstream media,” said Dara Bolden for Coke.
The company has now filed a criminal complaint in court in Buenos Aires under the country’s unfair trade practices law. The suit names an executive of Aguas Danone Argentina and an executive of Euro RSCG, its marketing agency.
Coca-Cola said under Argentine law the names of the two individuals involved would not be released until the judge determined to allow the suit to go forward.