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innocent and investment

You may have seen in today's papers or on the telly that Coca-Cola have taken a minority stake in innocent. There’s a letter from the founders explaining the nature of the deal on the front page of our website (we put it there yesterday as lots more people visit our site than the blog – if you’ve time it may be worth checking it out)

The background to this deal is that we’re ten years into a thirty year journey towards what we want innocent to become. Our vision is for innocent to grow into a global, natural, healthy food and drinks company – one that makes stuff which is good for people, uses ‘lighter footprint’ ingredients, packaging and production techniques, and which supports charities in the countries where our fruit comes from. In terms of our international expansion, it’s a big goal, and to get there we're going to need a bit of help.

That's where the deal with Coke comes in. They've invested £30M for a stake of between 10% and 20%. We spoke to plenty of potential investors before we made a decision (over fifteen), and you'd be surprised how many wanted to tell us what to do and to run innocent themselves, rather than allowing us to carry on doing what we do.

And that's why we chose Coke – because of all the people we spoke to, they were the ones who guaranteed a hands-off approach; an approach that means that we continue to run innocent our way. We will continue to make the decisions, just as we always have done. Adam, Jon and Richard, the three founders, will continue to lead the business. Coke have placed no restrictions on what we can and cannot do. But we can ask for their advice and help from time to time, which we think will be useful. They may even at some point be able to help distribute our products, but it’s early days so we’ll have to see.

The investment means we now have the funds to do what we’re here to do; get more healthy stuff to more people and places across Europe and beyond. And, let’s face it, times are pretty hard economically speaking, and this investment gives us the added stability to weather the tough headwinds most businesses are facing.

If you've ever started your own business, you'll be able to appreciate that innocent is much more to us than the place where we work. And we know people will believe us when we say that we thought more about this decision than any other in our history. We know some people will always disagree and we will respect that, but we know this deal is a great opportunity for innocent and will allow us to do what we’re here to do – get more healthy products to more people.

We know you have thoughts and comments so feel free to post them. But please keep all comments clean and free of abuse – this is a family show i.e. kids read this blog too.

***
A short note - there have been lots of comments on this post, but the navigation to see subsequent pages of comments is a little hidden, due to the standard blog design. You'll find a small set of double arrows like this '>>' at the bottom of the page, above the "Post a comment' box. Click it to see subsequent comments.

There are 340 comments about this post


Comments

You thought wrong - you just killed your business :(

So disappointed. It is not OK for you to say that you will still be the same company and that coke will 'let' you keep your ethical policies. The fact is that now part of the profit from every innocent smoothie goes to lining the pockets of coke's shareholders. That's something i chose not to do so I'm now no longer a customer- a real shame, I really liked your smoothies, but your business is tainted. How could you!

I really thought that innocent would stand on their own through these tough economic times. Anyone can access your company records to see you turn a healthy profit. We could understand the Mcdonalds decision as it meant fruit for kids but how can you justify coke owning any part of Innocent? Do you now agree that sugar is ok for kids? Maybe you can explain to the kids reading this blog how the Innocent they used to know has now changed. No doubt the distribution is a huge win but what is the real cost of ethically selling out? Innocent used to be an ethically sound business but now when times get tough the real value of whats important becomes clear, and for Innocent it would see to be the almighty pound.

Typo coke CANT do anything

Personally I boycott Coke because of this <a href="http://www.waronwant.org/news/campaigns-news/15153-coca-cola-drinking-the-world-dry">http://www.waronwant.org/news/campaigns-news/15153-coca-cola-drinking-the-world-dry</a>
(old report but there are still issues in India).

So now I'm not buying innocent either :(

At best this is misguided - you'll be a fig leaf for Coke's unethical corporate machine. At worst it is a greed-driven betrayal of values and customers.

Disgrace but not surprising, you have sold your soul. Thats the last time we buy your products.

I agree, a better investor could have been found, one with some ethics and that doesn't go around destroying communities with their industry, and selling drinks with over the daily recommended amount of sugar to young children.

I am disappointed that this step has been taken and understand why people are expressing their unease. I figure the majority of your market will continue to buy, and that is what you'll be relying on.

A sad day for independent and ethical business.

While I understand people having negative reactions to the news, I think some might not be looking at the bigger picture.

Personally, I think it's more important to think about what Innocent has gained by the deal than what has been lost.

Innocent has gained the security and backing needed to expand and develop their brand, while doing so on their own terms - remember, Coke are taking a hands off approach here.

We can also look at what Coke has gained.

Coke gets a lot of negative press. People disagree with it's practices, and the health credentials of it's products are often called into question.

But now, Coke has an interest to see Innocent, one of the healthiest companies around, do well and turn a profit through selling their delicious smoothies to kids.

So, while Coke have been attacked for selling sugary drinks to kids, they are now moving in the right direction by adding more healthy products to their business.

Personally, I don't like Coke, and wont buy it. But if Coke decided to start up a new company with ethical policies and producing tasty drinks, I would buy them and I would believe that doing so would be a step toward showing Coke how things can and should be done.

And I kind of see the Innocent/Coke situation like that. I will continue buying Innocent, because I want Innocent to be able to show Coke that you can make a profit without selling sugar to kids and doing all the other questionable stuff Coke has been reported as doing.

You have to believe things can change, and that the little company can stand up for what it believes in and change the way the big companies work.

If you boycott Innocent, it will hurt Innocent. Not Coke, Coke wont even notice. They'll just see Innocent under perform and turn off the taps and leave them to struggle.

But if Innocent do well, Coke might just sit up and take some notice when they see a company making healthy products and playing nicely while also turning a profit.

David and Clare Hieatt co-founders of howies describe their business like having a baby. You are the parent. You watch it try to walk. You pick it up when it falls. No one cares about it like you. No one frets like a parent.

Having just started our own business we understand how strong these feelings are.

And, having met you all we don't believe for a second that the decision to sell a share of the business to ANYONE was taken lightly or without careful consideration to how your drinkers would feel.

The idea that innocent would just 'sell-out' overnight after building a business from nothing is ridiculous. Perhaps if all the naysayers out there understood what it takes to build a business from nothing (but fruit), they'd know the deal with Coke was only to make innocent better.

We will continue to drink your smoothies.

James, Chris & Stuart

They have a point about coke not being ethical, wanted to raise capital here is an idea: you could have made a special carten that once bought gave a small number of shares, while your say you sell 2m drinks a day I am sure your customers would have paid 10 to 15 pounds for such carton. U as customer could log in here to register your shares and even get paid for your investement when time comes. A contract could have been setup so at the end of a 5year period you could renew your investement or you would buy the share back. So anyway something like that we would have helped you achive your goals and be innocent ourselves.

I might say that I am a bit disappointed.

Coke's entry = the end of the fairytale

NOW welcome in the business world

what a shame

It was a shock to read about your new minority stakeholder at first, but having read the context behind this decision, I fully support you. It would have been a tough decision to make, but I don't think it will make innocent any less ethical, any less healthy or any less enjoyable.

Everything I love about innocent is still there, and I wouldn't want to do anything to stop you guys from being around. In fact, I will try to drink more innocent smoothies to try and make up for all the people who are saying they won't buy your smoothies anymore. ;)

Bev:

As an ex-innocent employee I strongly believe your angst regarding "no more jolly blogs, cutie emails etc" will be proven as unsubstianted - this is not just a marketing thing, it's the way people are at innocent.

Buying cheaper: what's the benefit for you and your kids except saving some pennies? And by doing this (i.e. buying own labels) you would rather support ethical companies like Tesco or Pepsi (Topicana)? Let your kids decide if they'd prefer a smoothie from a multi-billion pound brand with a wannabe kids-friendly tonality or from a brand that loves little people and the product itself respectively. You should see the attention and love to the tiniest detail when new labels or packaging are made. I strongly suggest to bring your kids to Fruit Towers in London when are around - you will understand what I mean.

Time will tell if Coke will stand to their word of a "hands-free" approach. In the meantime I am convinced the three founders will stand to their words - there won't be redundancies coming from the Coke deal - these already have been made a couple of months ago in view of the credit crunch. A process unfortunately familiar with many UK companies as I hear from the continent.

Bev, let's see how the situation develops over the next months - maybe you will be right, maybe not.

Simon

Its difficul to make a judgement on how much influence coke will have without more details. if coke's investment is a pure < 20% shareholding (with no shareholder agreement or the like on the side or corporate decisions requiring 100% votes) then coke has NO control, as even the most serious / controversial of corporate decisions under normal corproate statutes need only a 75% vote to pass. Of course even if Coke have no control then you still have the issue of 20% profits rolling back to coke, but i dont see that as too fatal to innocent's image. I suggest innocent publish full details of the investment terms on the website if they really want people to be sympathetic. It would also be interesting to know if the £30 is all being retained in the co to fund operations or if some is being paid out to early investors....

I kinda feel the need to point out to a few people that coke isn't really directed at young children, and what little ones drink is pretty well up to their parents.

So long as innocent don't lose their standards and personality, then this is fine in my world.
It's your innocent, and I think we should respect that.

have you read your Facebok page - its packed full of scrummy yummy customers telling you they feel betrayed.

I can't quite believe how excercised and angry I am about this - its only a smoothie company there are plenty more non-ethical ones out there who cost a lot less too.

Urgh – I feel like I am watching a good friend get bullied in the playground and wish there was something I could do to stop it.

Innocent had the courage to do something that it felt it needed to do – knowing it would lead to all this abuse, knowing that it would rile people up and knowing that it would lose them customers.

Now, why on earth would they do that, unless they really had to?

Innocent, I wish I could stand up for you in the playground, but I have a sneaky suspicion that you can do that pretty well all by yourself.

I will continue to buy your smoothies and continue to believe in you.

Sell outs.

Won't be buying your products any more.

You have killed your brand forever.

Simon
Thanks. I take your comments onboard as you've worked there and I haven't. My husband worked for Appletizer when they sold a minority share to Coke (yes you've guessed it, 20%) and the first thing they said was 'why don't you use our distribution channels as they're already there and it'll get your costs down', then they questioned keeping the staff who did those things before, and it went on from there. Getting the JustJuice brand which was part of that group and then running it at lowest possible cost was the only thing they cared about - and it was carnage. Of course all they care about is cost, that is why they are where they are and they will impose the same cost blueprints on Innocent, who I believe will be helpless to resist. I genuinely hope for all the Innocent employees' sakes that this turns out to be different, but it's sounding spookily similar already. And I'm quite sure from everything I've read that the Co-Founders did this with all the right intentions, but the partner they have chosen (and why in God's name it had to be Coke we will never understand) is a PR disaster and this isn't going to go away.

In terms of switching brands in our house, Tropicana's ownership by Pepsi is common knowledge. They produce a top quality product which is very often cheaper than Innocent, they use frozen fruit pulp etc not from concentrate, just as Innocent do. And I'm sorry but I really can't see much difference between the two of them now in terms of their profile. I'm sorry but I just don't... the little warm feeling when you put the Innocent Smoothie in your basket just isn't going to be there anymore. Hence the decision-making process in the supermarket now comes down to one thing: price.
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my rant though and I really hope I'm wrong. I'll stop now.

My only dismay is that another independent company has had to sell up (a portion) in order to expand. But what some narrow minded people forget is that with this expansion you can further your message of behaving ethically and drinking healthily to a wider audience.

Coke have a very bad track record but everyone has the ability to change. Even if it is a positive change to gain profits, it is still a positive change. If Coke change their business practices a small amount to match innocent, surely you have achieved your goals.

Don't let it go the other way. Stay Innocent

It doesn't only matter where the money goes to (i.e invested in innocent) - it matters where it comes *from* (i.e. from Coke and its dubious practices). If you are saying you can't ride the economic waves using only ethical investment, you are giving a big vote of no confidence to an ethical world economy.
It reminds me of bigmouth 'activists' who talk the talk while still living off Daddy's unethically procured pay packet.

Bev, thanks for your answer.

"And I'm sorry but I really can't see much difference between the two of them (Trop vs innocent) now in terms of their profile. I'm sorry but I just don't... "

Do Tropicana also give 10% of annual profit to charities? Do they educate farmers about sustainable growing? Do they care about packaging material that is from 100% recycled PET? Do they care about sustainability at all?

All these things cost money. Have that in mind when making the next purchasing decision at your supermarket.

Simon

Simon,
(and this really is my last post, honest)
The cynic in me says that those things will have to change, but... you know. ;o)

I worked for a wonderful company for many years that I struggled to get out of my system, I still find myself defending them. Innocent have been pretty quiet yesterday and today, probably stunned by the overwhelmingly negative response and it's just about impossible to say the right thing in these circumstances I guess.

You are a credit to your (ex) employer.

I originally posted this in the comments to the previous (tadpoles) post because this post didn't exist, but this seems like a better place for it:

What has happened to the Innocent Drinks blog post from October 13 2006 about Innocent's appearance on a Channel 4 News report criticising Coca-Cola and featuring some Innocent owners/staff?

[this is actually a question I would like answered, not just a rant]


In the Channel 4 clip you say "we're not for sale so please don't crush us".

The comments on the post were full of criticism of Coca-Cola yet no Innocent staff/writers questioned this criticism or defended Coca-Cola.

The original link stopped working at some point between 15 February 2009 and 6 April 2009. Does not work as of 10:00 8 April 2009:
<a href="http://innocentdrinks.typepad.com/innocent_drinks/2006/10/were_on_the_new.html">http://innocentdrinks.typepad.com/innocent_drinks/2006/10/were_on_the_new.html</a>

But here is a Google Cache of the post:
<a href="http://74.125.77.132/search?oe=UTF-8&q=cache%3AmzBK9pblRqMJ%3Ainnocentdrinks.typepad.com%2Finnocent_drinks%2F2006%2F10%2Fwere_on_the_new.html">http://74.125.77.132/search?oe=UTF-8&q=cache%3AmzBK9pblRqMJ%3Ainnocentdrinks.typepad.com%2Finnocent_drinks%2F2006%2F10%2Fwere_on_the_new.html</a>

TinyURL alternative:
<a href="http://tinyurl.com/dcqo2s">http://tinyurl.com/dcqo2s</a>

Hello Simon,
'innocent' could afford to give 10% to charity because people were willing to pay 20-30% over the price of competitors in order to support a business they believed was truly ethical. This supposed ethical approach is inconsistent with becoming an apologist for Coke (one of the least ethical corporations) and working towards increasing their profits.

Your questions re 'do they care' could now equally be applied to 'innocent'

Dan and everyone at innocent:
I'm sorry, but if the price of your plans for international expansion is the necessity of doing this deal, then you should have killed your desire for growth until you found a better way.

Isn't it better to undertake that proposed '30-year journey' well in one corner of the world than to do it in this shameful way? Some of us who have been here throughout the 10 years to date were buying your products precisely because there was no link to grandiose, greedy corporations such as Coke.

Your strategy is foolish and self-destructive. You will regret it, as many of us do now. Adieu!

I don't approve of Coca Cola as your business partner because I don't approve of Coca Cola as a company - human rights and workers' rights issues, plus the environmental issues, make it impossible for me to buy their products. So, for me, it doesn't matter whether their approach is hands on or hands off - their money is dirty. I will not contribute to their profits through buying their products or, now, yours.

There are still ethical alternatives out there - certified fair trade imports, local grocers and farmers markets. Just because I no longer buy innocent doesn't mean my money will be going to Tesco or similar Big Evil Corporation. And I can give money to charity by myself to top up what's not going to the innocent foundation. This is not an ethical dilemma for me, it's a simple choice between ethical and unethical.

Its not a question of who ismore ethical Tesco or Innocent. Thats like saying less evil - Innocent isn't innocent. Thats its USP gone.

so long, and thanks for all the fruit.

<a href="http://www.killercoke.org/">http://www.killercoke.org/</a>

Hiya guys.

I think it was a very brave PR decision but a brilliant business decision to get Coke on board, particularly with Pepsi (tropicana n pj's) seeming so keen to take you guys on. It's easy for people to criticize your decision but they've probably never owned a business that listed Pepsi co as its biggest threat i'd imagine! i understand that we have deep emotional attachment to brands and can sometimes feel cheated like in our personal relationships, but Under that competitive threat, standing still is as good as going backwards and after all, there's not very much you can do to help people if you go out of business!

No matter what people write about you in the press in the coming days, i hope people will see that you guys are trying to do the right thing and i hope that a link with coke might actually help you expand your reach even within this country to the people that are in most need of fruit in their diets. We ourselves are a university based made to order smoothie company based in Hull (the fatest city in world apparently) but make a point of visiting schools, some of the poorest in the country, with our smoothie roadshows as a means of inspiring kids to be healthier.

I'd like to wish you all the very best of luck both at this time and in the future expansion into Europe and i hope people appreciate what your are trying to do.

si

xx

very disappointed by this news.

coke represents everything that innocent wasnt.
by making this deal you've instantly tarnished your own image and allied yourselves with a truely disgusting organisation.

i'll finish the carton in the fridge, but from this point on innocent is just another name on the list of products not to buy as part of the killer coke boycott.

I have read this news with dismay. I actively try to educate people on the appalling human rights of Coca Cola, complicit in the murder of union members in Columbia for example. For anyone unaware of these I recommend the Mark Thomas book "Belching Out the Devil", not to mention the dreaful, dreaful environmental issues surrounding the company.
I currently purchase several cartons of Innocent a week. These will be removed from my shopping basket from now on and I will unsubscribe from the jolly email news I used to look forward to - it will only leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Innocent - you should change your name: you have blood on your hands.

The thing that everyone is missing here is that the USP - the key to the market - was INNOCENCE. Even the logo has a halo - but you can't be innocent when you take dirty Coke money and have one of their execs on your board.

The USP is GONE !

Forget the flavour and the 10% for good causes - the brand now has no emotional value.

I think a link to Robert Muggabe is a little extreme!
As a previous innocent employee I know how much thought goes into decisions like this and also how hard it is to expand into Europe.
I doubt very much that with a 10-20% investment coke are going to be asking Innocent to make large numbers of employees redundent.
Its a good move for the company, it means expansion will be smoother and shelf space will be easier to obtain across Europe. If it means that a brand such as Innocent can expand and be seen by more people then that is the main thing. I think its very easy for people to get on their soap boxes and not realise how much work it has taken to get Innocent to where it is in the last 10 years.

Now we know the Innocent founders had their 30-year-plan for world domination, I have to congratulate them. Coke is an ideal bedfellow and you're going to make shedloads of cash fellas!

However, you seem to have missed the point that we loved Innocent because it was a "local" rather than global brand; because you seemed to be in it for the right reasons, rather than pure desire to increase turnover and distribution; because you agreed with us that big and corporate was bad.

Frankly, I don't really care if your promises that Coke won't change you prove true or not. I don't really care if you do achieve your global domination.

I don't really care about Innocent anymore.

Minus another customer.

Dear Innocent,

I have unsubscribed from your mailing list due to my disappointment at investment from Coca-cola. I shall no longer be buying Innocent smoothies. I feel that for a product at such a price as your smoothies, you are asking customers to 'buy in' to a lifestyle (for buying the same amount of fresh, fairtrade / rainforest alliance / organic fruit independently would be clearly cheaper) - a lifestyle which you clearly market as ethical. I believe that this is completely at odds with the ethos and behaviour of such an investor as Coca-cola.

Although inevitable that this situation would arise (after all, Innocent is not a cooperative), it is still disappointing from a company that likes to market itself as being able to reconcile big business and ethics.

I am sure that Innocent will in fact go from strength to strength in terms of profitably and clearly this is a priority for the three founders, just like it is for any business.

Just to clarify, and to echo another poster, simply because I will not be buying Innocent anymore does not mean that I will be giving money to another 'evil' company. I'll just eat the same fresh fruit and give the rest to charity independently.

As I said in my email to the owners...Shame on You. This is a disgraceful and indefensible move by Innocent. Shame, shame, shame.

Its interesting that people talk of refusing to by from a company part owned by coke, yet talk of shoping at a supermarket. The wrongs of coke are noting compaird to the wrongs of the likes of Tescos.

I dont think that Tescos is potraying itself as ethical and sustainable is it? The whole coke move is seen as hypocritical coming from a business that promotes itself as having green ethics and sustainable. Seems like another greenwash scenario.

very disappointed - only last week held you up as an example of excellent branding to a potential client and said 'imagine how you'd feel if you discovered innocent used gmo ingredients harvested from protected land by 3 year old children - that's why authentic brand values and positions are important". If you neeed investment, why not consider going to your customers, I'd happily have invested in you. You could have issued a bond, something imaginative and it would have built my loyalty even more.

I will never buy an Innocent product again. Minus another customer.

A complete and utter sell out. A few points:

There were alternatives to getting an investment from Coca Cola. To suggest otherwise, that only those "business people" could understand the situation, is just nonsensical.

The big question for me is - what is the ultimate exit route for the Innocent owners/Coca Cola - just a hunch that it could be the complete acquisition by Coca Cola. And don't tell me that the business would remain untouched then - dream on. And if the founders don't intend to sell everything, if they can't afford expansion costs now, they're unlikely to be able to afford buying back Coca Cola's share later. Ultimately it will be a complete acquisition by a corporate or sale to private equity. Your independence has been sold - don't try and dress it up otherwise.

As to alternatives, despite the prevalence of Tesco, Tropicana etc, there is Co-op and Waitrose and I for one shall be supporting these from now on. Less choice maybe, but they live up to ethical standards. That is more important to me and I suspect many other loyal consumers.

It's disappointing to reflect that these founders have not been able to break the business mould sufficiently and look set to go the same way as all the other ethically sound businesses in selling out to big business. I thought they had more vision than that.

And please don't try the village fete this year - you really will just look very silly.

Shame on you

I feel this decision is the Anita Roddick of the drinks world. To have consistently preached one thing and then sold out in this manner is disappointing

In the search for new customers you have ignored and excluded those true and faithful original followers who admired your unique principles

Oh well, time to buy a smoothie maker and ethically sourced fruit. Such a shame but getting into bed with a company like coke is not the way to go, they may not change your morals, but you are providing a smokescreen for their dodgy ones.

I LOVE Innocent. I really pushed you guys in so many blogs and articles I've written.
In terms of making a cold, calculated business decision, you guys have done brilliantly... but as a loving, caring, ethically conscious brand, you have really let me down.

To justify this deal by saying that Coke has helped you to spread your 'ethical' products to more people is akin to the police seeking law enforcement aid from the Mafia.
Everything you stand for - the production of healthy drinks and food, produced ethically, etc... is something that Coca Cola is not part of in the slightest... so how can you go to them for help?

I'm really surprised... but then again, you're a big company now - no longer the small fish you once were - and you want to get bigger... so should I really be surprised at all?

Four words... Sleeping with the enemy.

And now a few more... So disappointed in you guys. If you're after a good read, please refer to <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Belching-Out-Devil-Adventures-Coca-Cola/dp/0091922933">http://www.amazon.co.uk/Belching-Out-Devil-Adventures-Coca-Cola/dp/0091922933</a>

I was going to send it to you but with all the money you've made from your new deal, I'm sure you can afford to get your own. Corporate sell-out comes to mind. To say it's left a bad taste in my mouth doesn't even come close. Really expected better from all at Innocent :O(

I so can't be bothered reading the 50 other comments but a lot of them seem to bash you, so I felt compelled to say something too.

I've always approved of your 'ethical' standpoints, ultimately Innocent is a business but I'd really like to think there is room for genuine ethics in business. Coca Cola isn't an evil overlord plotting to take over the planet, it's just another business and it may have a lot of ethically questionable business practices but there's no doubt it's really only interested in money there's definitely money in 'ethics' these days. If anything I'm hopeful that Coca Cola is realising this and some of your ideals will rub off on it. Perhaps at the end of your 30 year plan it'll be Coca Cola that's had the makeover.

I'm nipping out to buy my pre workout bottle of Innocent right now.

Why not grow alone as "Red Bull" energy drinks? They didn´t need to sell to Coke to be in the world selling energy drinks. You were the hope of a better bev company...

No, Chris, it's not Godwin's Law or the like - I was making the point that the provenance of financing and the ethics of business partners matter.

You say "If it means that a brand such as Innocent can expand and be seen by more people then that is the main thing" but I didn't realise that was the idea of innocent. I thought ethics and fair trade and responsibility were the important bits. innocent is profitable and expansion for the sake of expansion is not always right or sensible.

And please try not to be so patronising - just because we're unhappy with such a big change doesn't mean we're petty people on soapboxes.

I can't express my disappointment. I am truly saddened by your naivety when you say 'in some small ways we may be able to influence their thinking too.' Don't pretend it's about anything but the money and a loss of innocence. One less customer.

As an ex-resident of Shepherds Bush, I've watched Innocent grow into a fantastic company over the years - now, you've gone and ruined it all. Don't see any problems with Coca-Cola? Ask Mark Thomas:
<a href="http://www.markthomasinfo.com/">http://www.markthomasinfo.com/</a>

Guys as long is this is a good thing for you this is great. It is your business, and you can do what you want. Coke started out life as one product in one store in Atlanta and I wish Innocent the same phenomenal success they have had.

I love your products and will continue to buy them come what may. It makes no never mind to me who owns you as long as your products still taste so good.

Best of luck with your new venture.
xx Alex

Biggggggggggggggggggg dissapointment.

Sorry, but you have lost another customer.

I think the 20% that Coca Cola now have of your business will mirror the downturn in sales you are about to experience.

In one word greed! why the rush to expand over night? seems to me you have killed the goose which laid the golden eggs. You still have a great product ,but, created by a trio of turncoats. We will no longer buy your products - your really are silly if you believe any investor such as coca-cola will not interfere - fire whoever carried out the due-diligence.!

Could you have picked ANYone less ethical than Coke?! Good grief almighty :o(

Have ANY of you been near a bookshop lately?! Obviously not, or you'd've at least glanced at Mark Thomas' damning recent account of Coke and all who sail in her...

I'm gutted. Even more gutted than when Green & Blacks sold out to the Cadbury behemoth. No more Green & Blacks choc and no more Innocent (ha, the irony) Smoothies for me. Life just gets narrower and narrower...

'You've been had' doesn't even seem to cover it. I'm stunned that you could be so gullible, frankly. And just SO completely gutted.

Someone said you'd sold your soul - I feel more like you've sold mine (old Dickie Mustard above may well have a point!) :o(

I am extremely dissapointed that you have chosen to link yourself and accept money from a company such as Coke whose ethical values are extremely suspect especially within the 3rd world. I personally have boycotted Coke products and therefore will not be buying your products any longer.

My only issue is that having seen that abysmal advert with Duffy in it at the weekend, I had pledged to myself never to buy a Coca Cola product ever again. Nevermind.

I was never too hung up about all that ethical stuff anyway. It's the taste and Carton based funnies that keep me buying!

I am appalled and so disappointed that you could choose a company like Coke with their well-known track record of ethical crimes across the globe. Innocent's once-lovely products are now off my shopping list. For good. Shame on you.

I had my first innocent smoothie in Brighton in 1999 - on a blustery December day and I was going to see Blur later on.

I fell in love instantly - the mango & passion fruit smoothie was the best I'd tasted, I loved the little dude with the halo and laughed along with the funny little messages.

Since then I have only bough Innocent smoothies, with or without the cute knitted hats, followed your blogs and newsletters, been to the Fête and the festival before that, promoted you at every opportunity, hailed you as the perfect modern employer, feeling strangely proud when seeing you & your staff on the news and always harbouring this secret little dream of one day working at Banana Towers.

You will still sell smoothies, the product may well be continue to be as good, likelihood is that you will continue to grow and that the only loss felt will be mine...

But right now, I just feel a little bit heartbroken.

Like most people I am very disappointed in you. To buy your smoothie now would be to give my money to coke, who would then spend it on child labour, exploitation and the destruction of natural resources.

I'm sorry, but it's just not good enough.

Such a shame lads. You were the little guys. Now you aren't. And to do it at this time is bizarre - with all the trends about authenticity, going back to 50's values, etc... you have mistimed this really really badly.

You are so much more than your product - your brand stands for independence, power of belief, the little man. You've really damaged that and it is a staggering shame...

I really do wish you all the best but think in years to come (and not that many to be honest) you will hugely regret it

Sad times.

A lot of these comments are a little OTT. The USP is gone! How will I define myself as a green consumer? *sob*

If you don't like the Coke investment, exercise your consumer right and buy something else. Quietly and calmly...

And if you want to be really green, make your own smoothies!

There are similarities between this sell-out to Coca Cola and the sell-out that Green and Blacks had to Cadbury Schweppes. Whilst it wouldn't be fair to compare the two too closely, there is a predicatable trend that to expand you must embrace the world of mass corporation.

Innocent must have felt that to take the business to the next level this would be the most beneficial relationship. It could have survived and continued to deliver a healthy profit without this foray, but then that's a business decision that I'm sure what not taken lightly whatsoever.

Whichever way you cut it, this goes against the core principles at the heart of the company. Consumers are very savvy, and whilst we understand business requirements mean making tough decisions, it cannot be underestimated that this will have a long-term negative effect. Ironically enough though, sales will increase due to the increase in disctribution.

Will I continue to buy Innocent? Only if they stop pretending they're something they're now not going to be.

This is disappointing, another Body Shop situation as far as I am concerned. Why should I not buy from the supermarket own brands now? Just another corporation.

Fine to get investors but COKE? they are the most evilest corporate giants going, surely there was a more ethical company that could have given you some money. We shall have to think very hard now if we purchase innocent anymore, (we did buy weekly.)

oooh no innocent what have you done?

not so innocent anymore!

Yep, minus another customer here too.

With all these customers deserting you I hope Coke can export your products before the smoothies go off!!

Said it before - a few years back - and will say it here again....Innocent were never, ever more than 2 ex McKinsey Consultants (the uber-consultants of the corporate world)and an ex Coca-Cola (isn't that a coincidence..) Marketing exec's business plan of how to make a bucket-load of money by building a brand. They knew that hippie ethics were highly marketable to the latte culture we had become, they knew that they would have to build a 'story' with the requisite hippie factor (note: the story is made in advance and then acted out eg 'we'll go to a music festival - cos that'll sound good when we retell it in our corporate branding and will be congruent with the hippy thing...'). They will have studied the bejesus out of Ben & Jerrys and various other brands that have done this before them(given their backgrounds they would have had to keep up with the latest - mostly US - business trends).

Innocent have built a beleiveable story around them being relaxed and laissez faire and that all this has almost happened by accident to 3 guys who happened to like fruit juice...ahem , that'll be a 'no'.

Innocent were a marketing company - they've never made their own juices but subcontract to 'secret' contractors (who no doubt make juices for umpteen others) so they've never been really interested in making juice (apart from when they had to , to build a story....eg that music festival thing...). No, they been much more interested in selling juices than making them.

They were never that Innocent anyway given there unwillingness to support organic fruit and vegetable producers.

As an exercise in how to build a brand, they deserve a round of applause and the ex Coke Marketing exec will now be back at Coca Cola head office with enhanced standing and McKinsey and Bain Consulting will be taking the other two back to once again prowl corporate boardrooms (with their ties back on, naturally)

No matter what you think, the boys done good by their standards.

Thanks to everyone who's posting comments. We're jumping in to correct inaccuracy where possible.

To correct the comment by C Meikle (3.23pm), none of the founders has ever worked for Coca Cola. Adam worked for a short while for Virgin Cola in the 1990s, which is what you might be thinking of.

Also, it was Adam who worked for McKinsey, whilst Jon worked for Bain (another consultants), whilst Richard worked for an advertising agency. So only one person worked at McKinsey.

I love innocent drinks and part of that is because of what the company stands for. The bargain that innocent strikes with its customers is one of trust and that is a delicate platform on which to build a business. I think the guys are all too aware of this and we have to have a bit of faith that they will continue to respect that trust regardless of who there investors might be.

Right, that has taken my mind off my mouth ulcer for a few seconds. You've no idea how distracting it is. Guys - go and invent a smoothie that cures mouth ulcers. I know you're busy with the business but if you could knock this out before 5pm it would be much appreciated.

I have read the comments posted,if things are to change in the world then we all have to make an effort to change them.
I don't agree with coca cola's ethics, but neither did a lot of people agree with sir Winston Churchill in the war years, but he did a good job, and as history shows is now very highly thought of.
To stop supporting Innocent in their work could mean their demise but it would also mean that coca cola have an even greater slice of the Market.
I for one will still buy your products.

This reminds me of a friend's Dad who pretends to be a "hippy" but is quite happy to capitalise on rocketing house prices by being a property developer ensuring all properties have massive energy hungry fridges and 8 nozzle power showers. Very disappointing.

20% of our profits go to Gordon Brown, does that mean that we have all lost our moral values and have to behave differently? No it does not. Ok so that is a bit of an extreme example but until anything changes I don't think people have reason to complain. Innocent is a business after all and I am willing to bet that the people who are working there right now are pretty hurt by all your comments. I'm also pretty confident the founders know the ethics of Coke and have a good reason for going into business with them. Who knows, maybe coke want to change?! (Stranger things have happened). Either way like it or not Innocent is a business and this makes perfect business sense. If the atmosphere changes, if the ethics change, if the news letter changes, if things go south I would stop buying their products but until that happens this is just plain unfair. We are in a recession after all.

There was spoof on the daily mash about this and now its been removed.
Apparently Innocent's appearance on a Channel 4 News report criticising Coca-Cola was removed from this site.

Is this an indication of how things are going to be at innocent?

I realise now that I have been foolish for believing your branding all this time. Expansion at any costs is what megacorps like Coca-Cola do. They sell mixtures of sugar, caffeine and tapwater in cans, to people in developed and developing countries globally, and have no interest in the negative effect on their customers' health at all -- they simply want to sell yet more to them every year. Your quaint branding and newsletters now land with a heavy thud. Why on earth did I choose expensive Innocent smoothies when I should have chosen cheaper own brand smoothies from supermarkets who are just like you -- expansion crazy and lusting for global domination. Goodbye.

Tricky one, this. On the one hand, it's like being in the Dragon's Den... it only makes sense to pitch to dragons with expertise in the area you want to move into... so an investment global drinks behemoth is the natural choice if you want to be as powerful and universally recognised as Coca Cola. And everyone who loves you want to see you succeed.

On the other hand, this takes away from one most prominent and well-regarded USPs of Innocent: the (seeming) loveable rogue, the local underdog, who began life as a festival stall and prides itself on ethics, health and quality. This is now somewhat compromised by the link to Coca Cola, no matter how tenuous in practice.

May prove hard to swallow for many of your fans, I'm afraid...

Bad Move guys.
Love your products. Used to admire your ethics.
I'd have sent you a tenner if you'd asked !

As my old granny (never actually) said:
"If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas."

I have been an Innocent supporter for many years - almost since they strated. I am driven by one thing, and one thing alone - taste. I have tried all of the other smoothies and nothing matches up to an Innocent smoothie.
Reading all of the rantings of the negative tree huggers above I feel very sad for them. Sad because they are going to give up their taste buds for the sake of some strange belief that businesses are run for their good. Sad because they think that by not buying Innocent they will do harm to Coke. Or do they want to do harm to Innocent in a sort of dranged sense of retribution?
As always I wish the staff at Innocent Towers well in all of their endeavours. I will support you as long as you produce the best smoothies around. I believe evryone else should as well. take a look at history. name me one idealist that produced a good product that lasted. Idealism never lasts.

Hugh

Hugh, I salute you!

:/ I can't believe that probably 99% of the people writing this are adults..

Isn't it about time we forgot about the Nazis, Coke-wise? That was so long ago that everyone's dead now..
I'm not saying to forget the Nazis and what they did, but if they were around now, I doubt very much coke would have anything to do with them.
Also, Saying that Coke is 'ignoring' the health problems is sorta dumb.. they're not forcing anyone drink their stuff, it's peoples own choice.
Take responsibility for your actions people.

poor innocent.

give em a chance!

First McDonalds, now Coke, what next....Nestle??

Very disappointed.

innocent smoothies.

I take there will be a rebrand to ...

guilty smoothies.

sorry, you wont be getting my pennies any more. Why didnt you take a leaf out of howies book and let a big boy with a conscience buy in.... i.e. Timberland. They stuck to their principles. It seems like yours were all marketing blah.

disappointed.

I'm positive this one is going to be in the Corporate Strategy textbooks in a few years time in the 'disastrous decisions' chapter. You will just be like all the others now.

I'm a coke boycotter. I'm still contemplating whether or not to stop buying innocent smoothies altogether knowing that a proportion will go to coke.

You guys may have gained a few million new customers across Europe but you've certainly lost many of your most loyal in the UK.

In the long run, I doubt you'll be able to fight off coke (they'll be able to say to Pepsi - "look! We have innocent. They're better smoothies than your Tropicana ones. Ha ha!"). But I really hope you do and you stick it out.

Good luck to the 3 original founders and I hope the £30m is really worth it and listen to everyone's warnings. Stand up against the giants.

Shame on you, Innocent! You have lost your innocence now. Coke gets to say "we invest in ethical companies", you get to say "we sold out to the big guys who are as unethical & un-innocent as it is possible to be (reference: S American murder in the factory over union membership & Indian farmers' livelihood ruined etc etc etc, need I say more??)". Why do you see your side of the deal as a good one? I heard Mark Thomas speak at the Cambridge Union: he is a good person, has no reason to lie and has researched the company thoroughly - I believe him when it comes to ethics, not you!

It's made me really question my purchase of Innocent smoothies. People have commented on how coke and Tesco's are equally wrong and how then all supermarkets are.

Therefore, the decision to be supported by coke even if it is only 10% has been a great inspiration to re-evaluate my ethical values and my attempts to be green which aren't as strong as I want or need them to be. It has woken me up to your not the first and certainly not the last company to make this decision, big business rules right? I don't blame you that's how it is, that's what we have to respect to survive and to be able to consume more.

So that's me done with supermarkets, innocent smoothies and those things we think are green but know probably aren't that green on those shiny shelves.

For me personally what is a negative and another lost customer is also a beautiful positive that I no longer wish to be part of this consumer nonsense this is the excuse I've been waiting for to take control and just blinking make my own.

So long, peace and fruit.

I get it. Still a shame though. Is there no way to get on in this world without giving money to The Man?

I was in France when my husband informed me of the news of Innocent sell out to Coke. At first I thought he must have heard it wrong! Coke of all companies. Judging by the comments on here many of your customers feel the same. I will not buy coke or any of their products as I am totally against what they stand for as a company & was one of the reasons I supported Innocent in the first place. (sorry, I tell a lie- I did buy coke once as I heard it makes a great toilet cleaner- it does believe me!)
Im sorry to say,I too will no longer be buying any more Innocent products & will be unsubscribing from the weekly news. But I suppose if I was given the dilemma of losing a few customers or £30 million? Hmmmmm, which would I choose?
I just think you have trodden over everything you stand for but at the end of the day anybody can be brought for a price.
Good luck with your future plans- if you think Coca Cola will learn from your ethics dream on.

NOT HAPPY

Sometimes 'sell-out' just means that the business was not running properly. Credit crunch just showed it. In this case “the Coke deal” could be the first (or the last) nail to the coffin's cover. So again, Yankee-entrepreneur, who started it all, will get the money even on your funeral…

So very sad about this. I bought your smoothies as much for your strong ethics as for the quality.

First of all, respect for allowing people to have their say (you can see the 'but' coming, can't you?)

We have two issues with your decision. Firstly, the sale of part of your business to a global corporation. Yes, times are tough, but one of the reasons you give is that you want Innocent to become a 'global' company. This seems to tie in with the mantra that 'growth is good' which has caused the world so many problems in terms of the environment and now the economy. Why can't a company be satisfied with not being huge or global?

Secondly, if you thought it was right to have a larger investor (and we're sure much thought went into that decision), why Coke? The company has an appalling record on how it treats people and planet, from bottling plants in drought areas of India to suspicious deaths of trade unionists in Columbia. Perhaps you could have read Mark Thomas' excellent book 'Belching Out The Devil'. Listed companies have one duty and one duty alone and that is to maximise shareholder profit. They will only be ethical or green if it adds to the bottom line.

There's so much more we could say but we are so disappointed. A real kick in the (untouched by Coke) teeth. It's like losing a good friend. No, we won't buy Pepsi or Tesco alternatives (who'd shop there anyway??) but we'll have to find an alternative or make our own. Maybe a couple of people with an ethical stance might start up their own smoothie company...anyway, none of our money will be going to Coke & its shareholders either direct or via Innocent.

Yours with huge disappointment and heavy hearts.

I am very disappointed that you have gone with Coca Cola. We boycott them and have done so since we heard how they destroyed the water table in Kerala, South India. Now we also boycott Inocent or "not so Innocent" as you now seem to be. Bye.

I can't believe the backlash over this. I honestly don't care whether Coke own you or not. I'm not bothered about who has an investment in Innocent, however big or small. I drink Diet Coke (as does the vast majority of the population) so my ethics are clearly skewed anyway!

As long as your smoothies keep tasting as good as they've always done, as long as they maintain the daft packaging, and as long as you bring back the special Christmas one each year, I'll be there, buying your products.

People are far too pretentious these days and far too narrow-minded. There are only about a dozen companies in the entire world which own pretty much everything and there's not a lot you can do about that. Innocent would have been bought up sooner or later and I'm glad that they have only had a minority share taken by a company who guarantee to be hands-off. I believe them when they say this to be the case.

Big up Innocent smoothies, whoever's providing the funding!!

It looks like our comments has been deleted already - any reason?

Mistake. Won't be buying "innocent" again.
There was absolutely NO Need to Sell Out to "killer cola"! :-(
Sure Coke has a good distribution network but giving them a Chunk of equity in the company is regrettable.
Enjoy the money...
And watch as new and uncompromising brands enter the market!
I love(d) innocent and bought smoothies on a regular basis! Would have gladly put in £5000 towards the equity as would thousands of other happy customers. Especially with the low interest rates, a lot of people have cash to spare/invest!
Sure innocent could have partnered with P&G or Unilever to distribute, but I guess they had to (be a) sell out at some point.
What's next?
Thanks for the good years guys. Wish you all the Luck in the world!
N

Robyn, I'd rather be "pretentious" for caring about where my money goes than utterly fatalistic like you. You're right in pointing out that a few large companies control much of what we buy, but that just makes independent businesses (which used to include innocent) all the more unusual and important. That's why there's a backlash - we're sad to lose a company that allowed us to enjoy a product without feeling that we're harming others to get it.

Such a shame you feel you can't go futher without the need to let Coke join the party. I love your drinks and your ethos , I think though this will all change I'm afraid you've lost another loyal customer. My kids too, who still water the Christmas tree you sent all those years ago.

I am deeply disappointed. Innocents is no longer innocent. You were getting there under your own steam. It might have taken longer but you would have kept your integrity. You are intent on market domination now and the work greed comes to mind.

How could you do this??? COKE!!Anyone but coca cola! Are u insane...now i won't be buying ure products as any money u make will be part of a return to coke, who are totally unethical. How could u sell-out. The very reason i buy this is for the ethical reasons, this is such a contradiction helping the same communities in ure charities that coca cola exploits. so disappointed...not so 'innocent' now.....

EVERYONE has a price. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made. I'll still buy the smoothies and they'll probably be available in more places than they are now.

Shame shame shame on you - unless there is a retrieval - is that possible? as it seems Coke has you by your Innocent Balls - I shall be unsubscribing and buying alternatives!

Coke deplete valuable water resources in the developing world (3litres water - 1 of coke). How could you get it sooo wrong?

Soon you'll be wheeling out that ol chestnut about breaking omelettes to make eggs...I am disgusted.

I'm super disappointed in innocent. I boycott Coke for the same reasons of many posts above. Its a shame that after all these years of loving innocent I will now have to boycott you as well.

I would love to hope that you could make changes at Coke but some how I very much doubt it.

You have sold out to both Coke and your morals. How many tree's or communities will they care about? None! Bottom line for them is profit and it will be for you also.

You sold out end of!!

I will no longer be buying your products as I like business's that stick to the ethics and beliefs they are founded upon... very disappointing!

You should feel truly disappointed!

I am saddened by this news. Coke are not partners who I would chose or agree to go with personally.

Good luck to you anyway, but I am sorry to hear this news.

innocent seems to have lost their innocence...

No thanks to innocent now Coke is involved. I don't want to know.

Last week was last time I ever bought an innoncent product. I'm not buying coke merchadize, even less if it's hiding behind a self proclaming healthy brand. Well done to the founders who used the healthy hype to make a fortune and sell the concept to the worst corporate american cynical obese making company.

it's time for consumers to be smart and use their power, DON'T BUY INNOCENT AGAIN, DON'T SHOP AT TESCO OR ASDA, DON'T BE A RBS CUSTOMER etc....

Hi. I'm Andrew D. I work at innocent in the production team. I was the one who went to Malawi with the innocent foundation. I reckon its worth another perspective – completely my opinion, choose to take or leave it – at the end of the day I rely on you guys buying smoothies to keep me in a job so I guess I’m a “stakeholder” in this debate.

It came as a surprise when we found out the news this week. Being honest I was a little worried. After some time though, I think I’m actually more excited by what this means than concerned. Why? Because it means people are taking innocent seriously – both how we do things and what we stand for. If big companies (I’ve worked for a few) are taking notice then my feeling is that maybe there’s some hope that others might follow. I'd love to live in a world where everything is perfect but its not. Most people don’t care about their own recycling so how can we expect anyone to care about the mess we’re making of the place. Smoothies are not going to save the world (in the words of my friend Ceri - “get over yourself Dougal”). What will is actually trying to make small steps towards making things a little better each day. I feel that innocent will keep doing that whether coke are a minority investor or not.

Innocent is one of the few companies that I have seen that works in the world of business but that also gives back (to our consumers and to the foundation). I chose to work in a business that I believe in and that operates successfully in the normal commercial system. That means persuading people that RFA banana's are worth it and getting our consumers to support recycled bottles. It also means tough decisions like this one but I feel the guys have made one that is hopefully for a larger good (granted, they get richer too probably but hey, it’s a pretty cool business and its theirs). If this whole coke jazz makes us change then its simple, I’ll work somewhere else. If this coke thing means we can do what we were doing in a bigger and better way then I’m actually really up for it. Everyone has there own opinions which I love about innocent drinkers. Mine is to give this situation the benefit of the doubt and to make it work in a positive way. Andrew

To Steve and Gill (6.19pm). We haven't deleted your comment. It's still up there above this one.

innocent...couldn't it have at least been pepsi...

but on the plus-side, at least it wasn't LVMH...if so, then I'd definately stop buying...

your customer (for now)

As the mum of a former employee, I'm really sorry that you're getting so much criticism, but I suppose you must have expected it. We will continue to buy your drinks, for the most important reason - we love them.

What a shame. My children love your smoothies and your brand. We don't do the big globalised brands stuff (don't buy Coke and my children have only ever been to McDonalds once - to use thier loos) I feel betrayed by you and sad too when you realise in the future that this was indeed a bad decision for the company. I echo the others on this site that suggest you could have raised funds via your customers - I would have definately bought into that. And I don't understand the 10-20% share bit. Is it 10%? 15%? When does it become 20%? Sleep well Gentlemen.

No wonder the innocent employees are so happy. They are depending on Innocent being privatised to get the money they are owed. Getting paid much less than market rate they have no option but to buy shares in the company, those shares being worthless until Innocent is listed but becoming very valuabe once they float. No doubt Coca Cola will be ready when the time comes to pay handsomely and finally the underpaid Innocent employees can stop worrying about being replaced by university students on loan caught up in marketing hype. Too bad this one is so hard to spin to consumers who believed in the independent business that cared.

That's it boys.

What you seem to have forgotten, or choose not to recall, is that we invested in YOU. We liked YOU; we liked what YOU stood for. YOU have betrayed us; we sought you out when you were little, we paid over the odds,we recommended you, we knitted, we contributed.

No more Innocent products for me or my family.

While initially disappointed by the news of the Coke deal, I hope the successful Innocent business model can influence Coke more than the other way around.
As long as Innocent says innocent - and the the smoothies don't get fizzy ;-) I'll still be a customer

Two words: sold out.

Two words: I'm out.

And to think I helped you win that ISP award for all those wooly hats.

I still trust Innocent and I believe in what they say. We will just have to wait and see if things are still good in one to two years time... Good Luck.

What a crying shame this is... Sorry guys but I've gone right off your smoothies now - I heard the Face The Facts investigation into Coca Cola's Indian factories back in 2003 and was appalled.

It's here if you're interested:

<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3096893.stm">http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3096893.stm</a>

From now on I'll be making my own smoothies with some Yeo Valley Natural Yogurt, lots of fairtrade bananas and a dash of vanilla.

Toodle pip

I have been a loyal fan of Innocent smoothies for many years now and was pleased to pay more because of the company's demonstrable corporate social responsibility and ethical stance as well as the fact that the smoothies are delicious.

Since Innocent has decided to do what I consider to be reprehensible in selling out to Coca-Cola - a company with an utterly dubious track record regarding its global corporate social responsibility (to be polite about it) - I will never again buy any of your products. It is such a shame. Shame on you!

Just so very sad :-(

Another customer lost.

I am going to boycott Innocent smoothies now; I'm very dissapointed in this news. I can't help contribute to the profits of evil coco-cola. Bye bye Innocent.

Like-minded disgruntled ex-Innocent customers should come and talk about it on this facebook group:

<a href="http://tinyurl.com/ckn9er">http://tinyurl.com/ckn9er</a>

There is a series of emails between some chap called Rob and Richard Reed, who quite impressively took the time to reply personally.

Richard offers quite a balanced insight into Innocent's thinking, whether or not you agree is still entirely up to you of course, but it makes for interesting reading.

Come and join us and let's talk it over!

www.killercoke.org

guilty.
i will do my best to discourage everyone i know from drinking innocent from now on. good work you fools.

Good for the folks previously hoodwinked by your pseudo-ethical 'values' as a consumer option bull to see it exposed for the sham it always was

Hello there!

My daughter & I have been regular customers of your lovely smoothies for a long time now.

However, I heard your guy on Radio 4 the other day being interviewed re. the minority share Coke now have in your company and it really saddened me that we won't be able to enjoy your drinks and support your company any more.

Here's the thing...we didn't just buy your drinks because you were an independent company, or because you're making a really decent product (delicious and healthy!), or because you're doing very cool things like donating 10% of your profits to charity etc.
but precisely because you're not Coca-Cola!

I'm sure they don't currently hold enough sway within the company to start changing too much, but I don't want any of my hard-earned going to those people, supporting their unsound, unethical business practice around the world.
Perhaps sometime i'll have to eat my words when Coca-Cola own everything and everyone but until that day, i'll continue to do my small bit for those without dirty hands.

Shame, shame, shame...

Innocent.
shocked by the news, and dissapointed by the justification. For everything the brand coke has come to mean, this does not make a good bed fellow for Innocent. Choosing Coke, even with the justification of spreading Innocent throughout the world, does not stand by Innocents fundemetnal ethics. Coke is a representation of monumental capitalism. Having Coke as a 'big brother' is destroying innocents image. Even if working with coke improves sales and profits, Innocent is not about greed, it is about creating a healthy alternative that has not got multinational fingerprints.
As regualar consumers of your products, we are seriously considering boycotting as a demonstration against these actions.
Could you not have found ethical investment?
ultimatly the fear is that Innocent smothies will be contaminated.

I really hope my student union doesn't get wind off this! I need Innocent to keep scurvy at bay, but my student union boycotts all Coke products (in favour of the 'more ethical' Virgin *rolleyes*).

I understand why so many people are annoyed. A bit of me is too. But Innocent is such a good product, so I'll still buy it, for a while at least. As somebody mentioned above they did something sneaky with Appletiser, and I remember they did a similar thing with the independent fizzy drinks in India a few years back as well. I really hope the same doesn't happen.

But I feel boycotting will hurt Innocent and not even be noticeable to Coke, they'll just pull out leaving Innocent floundering. I don't want to see that.

Hello there!

My daughter & I have been regular customers of your lovely smoothies for a long time now.

However, I heard your guy on Radio 4 the other day being interviewed re. the minority share Coke now have in your company and it really saddened me that we won't be able to enjoy your drinks and support your company any more.

Here's the thing...we didn't just buy your drinks because you were an independent company, or because you're making a really decent product (delicious and healthy!), or because you're doing very cool things like donating 10% of your profits to charity etc.
but precisely because you're not Coca-Cola!

I'm sure they don't currently hold enough sway within the company to start changing too much, but I don't want any of my hard-earned going to those people, supporting their unsound, unethical business practice around the world.
Perhaps sometime i'll have to eat my words when Coca-Cola own everything and everyone but until that day, i'll continue to do my small bit for those without dirty hands.

Shame, shame, shame...

Very disappointed to read about "selling your soul to the coke devil", but perhaps you could convert all Coca-Cola drinkers to Innocent Smoothie drinkers. Just think how much money the government will save when we have a healthier population [I hope!]

As the majority of people posting seem to agree that the deal with Coca Cola is a disgrace, maybe you would like to join my Facebook group protesting it - it will give a better idea of the strength of feeling if people 'stand up and be counted'.

<a href="http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=69906153146&ref=nf">http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=69906153146&ref=nf</a>

You've sold your souls to the devil! All your words of being ethical now have a hollow ring to them. Coca-cola are a nasty nasty company and if anyone has any doubts about that they should read 'Belching out the Devil' by Mark Thomas.

Perhaps there should be a name change to 'Guilty'.

I make a point of not buying coca-cola products and that will also now include Innocent.

We feel innocent has lost its innocence.

Dan
Thanks - but our comments did just seem to disappear for a while. Still disappointed though.....

This decision feels to me a bit as if Innocent had decided to use concentrate instead of whole fruits!

This decision surely fundamentally changes the nature of the business from a independent, ethical company to just another (but rather expensive) smoothie maker (remember PJs?).

Whats the point of Innocent now?

Guys, I'm sorry but I really think you've just lost the thing that made your product worth the premium price. It really doesn't matter what PR spin you put on this it's not right to line 'unethical' Coke's pockets so that you can reach more people with your 'ethical' product. It's a great decision on paper giving you a massive distribution network but the reality is that for many people (not all) your product was an emotional one. There are other nice smoothies out there but you had such a strong market differentiation - hope it works out!

It is like when a small band becomes too big for it's boots. They see the $ signs and abandon the people that supported them from the very beginning for the money the big corporate labels can give them. People who originally bought Innocent drinks were the people looking for something different and who were probably boycotting coke. Innocent have now seen the $ signs and they will be successful because a new bunch of smoothie drinkers will replace the original ethical ones. We will soon see Innocent like we see coke and McDonalds. It will be lapped up by those who buy cokes with their big macs, but now they can have a cranberry and socks smoothie too. The selling point will be "ethical and yummy" and the McSmothie drinkers will feel good about themselves while one of the most disgusting companies on this planet gets a cut of the ethical profits. You can count me out as an Innocent smoothie drinker :(

<a href="http://www.killercoke.org/">http://www.killercoke.org/</a>
<a href="http://www.indiaresource.org/">http://www.indiaresource.org/</a>
<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3523303.stm">http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3523303.stm</a>
<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3550063.stm">http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3550063.stm</a>
<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3096893.stm">http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3096893.stm</a>
<a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/200405240002">http://www.newstatesman.com/200405240002</a>
<a href="http://www.actionaid.org.uk/433/mark_thomas_wells_went_dry_and_crops_failed.html">http://www.actionaid.org.uk/433/mark_thomas_wells_went_dry_and_crops_failed.html</a>
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2003/jul/25/water.india">http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2003/jul/25/water.india</a>
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2006/mar/19/business.india1">http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2006/mar/19/business.india1</a>
<a href="http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=7508">http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=7508</a>

Big, big mistake to trot out Coke's responses to the numerous allegations made against them on Facebook.

Stop it - before someone suggest you do a live debate on the issue with Mark Thomas. Someone whose ethical credentials against yours will make you look silly.

Guys, you're showing your under pressure and you're making fundamental mistakes which belies your experience.

I came across the Coke machine courtesy of my Dentist whose post-grad student he tutored had been stopped from publishing her gathered evidence that Diet non-sugar fizzy drinks, Coke included, had a direct link with caries in teeth. Coke did not say that they had evidence to the contrary (though that could have been arranged, if you know what I mean). They just sent a Lawyer around who said that she will be crushed by the Coke machine.

So, you are onto plums if you think the goodness of Coke will prevail.

C'mon guys. Get working. Burn some midnight oil and use your super marketing brains to work your way out of this one.

You know you can't ask the Coke Communications Division to help you because they know nada about an ethical, hippie marketing pitch. That's one of the reasons they bought you , right?

No, you've got great pedigree and fantastic connections in the corporate consultancy world, so hit that phone and get working........

Here's my advice, for what it's worth...keep schtum.

The furore will die down. Amplify your brilliant branding and communications work to reiterate 'the message'. Do something extraordinary for charity or for the Amazon or something, to show that your still innocents abroad in the big, bad corporate world. In fact, let Coke take over your management of the subcontracted companies that make your drinks for you . And you guys concentrate your brilliant comms work on seeing through that world domination plan you put together.

Good luck. I truly mean that. I think you will be truly gob-smacked at the backlash here. You had spun your message so brilliantly you began to believe you were invincible (and could burp with the devil and still string along your followers).

You were only brilliantly trained corporate guys; ex-consultants and ad-men who were actually too good at what you did. You will survive and thrive.

But now the cats out the bag, it'll be without my money from now on.

PepsiCo bought out PJ Smoothies, and now Coca Cola have bought out innocent. Where are PJ Smoothies now? History.

Coca cola always have and always will make the most money out of unhealthy junk drinks, and now they own you guys, who make way more expensive costly healthy drinks. Its only a matter of time before innocent becomes not so innocent. They own your asses now, and as much you like to convey to the public that nothing will change... they have the money and thus they rule you.

Like Jane said a few pages above, I can see why you did it but it doesn't mean I have to like it.

I wish you best of luck with expanding your business. Perhaps you can rest better when your smoothies appear in vending machines in inner city American schools, in a space bought with the specific intention of capturing and exploiting schoolchildren (!!) amongst Coca Cola's other 'achievements'. I suppose it is better than some terrible fizzy drink but I cannot be a part of this.

As far as my shopping dollar goes, you have lost your USP. You join a list of products I mourn the loss of including brands like Green & Blacks and Bodyshop. I live in hope that this opens up the market for something else local and independent.

I am not saying anything that has not already been said but I just felt that I needed somewhere to put this immense sadness to bed. Thanks for a lovely decade but goodbye!

Goodbye losers, I'm never buying another smoothie from you again.

Smoothies rot your teeth like hell and make you fat. I now have no enamel on my front teeth from drinking innocent every morning. I might as well have glugged down a nice fat pint of cola!! Lost interest in Innocent months ago anyway. 'This Water'? Nothing more than over-priced Ki-Ora. Blackberries & Blueberries (my favourite) must have been too expensive to make so was axed last summer. And despite being a member of the 'family' haven't really heard a peep from Innocent for well over a year. Not even a Christmas card...

I am so disappointed at what I see as Inocent's sell out to corporate capitalism. I had really believed what I read and heard about Innocent 'being different'abd 'breaking the corporate mould'. How wrong I was. I shall not be buying Innocent any longer.

Complete and utter disgust - how could you do it? Why, why, why sell out???

You sell outs. Innocent will never be the same. you just lost another customer poo poo!

Rubbish. Well I'm out.

Makes great business sense - you surpassed the hippies who care about the real stuff a while ago, now you've built up a nice little image of rainbows and puppy dogs, so who cares what you actually do, right?!

This is why I hate everything. I'm going back to my hole.

This reminds me of the feeling I had when Roddick sold out the Body Shop to l'Oreal. And the man who offers a woman ten million quid to sleep with him. The woman agrees and the guy immediately drops his offer to twenty quid. Indignant, the woman asks what kind of person the guy thinks she is. The guy explains that he'd established the sort of person she was with his first question; the second was just to negotiate her price.

I would like to know more about the exact nature of this guaranteed "hands off" appraoch. What has been agreed?

Even if this proves watertight I still have issues about how the money Coke are funding you with was made - But I do accept that your brand and the promises attached have always been about natural products, fair trade and recycling - and not the anti-capitalist arguments many who supported your brand hoped you might stand for.

I suppose you are breaking our idealistic expectations rather than any promises you have made.

and here i was thinking greedy, unscrupulous growth was like so last year!

Im really dissapointed in you, I believe in your ethics, I dont believe in Cokes, Im sorry Im guessing Ill add it to the list of products to avoid from now on, along with Pret, and Green and Blacks, who sold out too.

I'm saddened and disappointed, but it's your company to do with as you wish. Good luck for the future, I think you may need it. This is my stop, goodbye.

Innocent Board of Directors - Welcome to the world of Viral Marketing (<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing)">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_marketing)</a> your recent news will be your down fall, I have heard people talk about this news all over the net.

I live on a low income but have always justified buying innocent for my son as it is made locally and appeared to come from an ethical company, we even went to the innocent fete last year.

I would rather give my son Ribena than give Coke a penny...

The Letter to Innocent From Mark Thomas:

"Hi Richard

I just wanted to drop you a note regarding your new found partnership with Coca Cola. An acquaintance mailed you earlier today and passed
your response on to me. There are some fundamental factual
inaccuracies and ignorance in your reply. You wrote:

"As a business, Coke are definitely not perfect (although it is worth
saying that independent judicial enquiries at the time found that the
Columbia (sic) allegations to be unfounded, the same with India water although I am nervous about saying these things as it makes it sound
like I am here to represent Coke, which I am not). But they do show a relatively good track record in learning and making good on the things
they get things wrong. And the people we've met have been decent, ordinary folk."

The allegations against Coca Cola in Colombia are simple: trade unionists working for the company have been intimidated and murdered,
in one case Isidro Segundo Gil was killed inside the plant, virtually under the Coca Cola logo, to this day Coca Cola have not had any
independent investigation into the allegation that managers of the bottling plants in Colombia colluded with or directed the para
military death squads. The murders happened over 12 years ago.

Your response states that "independent judicial enquiries at the time found that the Colombia allegations to be unfounded," What independent judicial enquiries are you referring to? The Colombian judicial
system has managed to investigate, prosecute and convict about 1% of the trade unionist murders, out of thousands. So any investigation conducted in Columbia is hardly independent and barely qualify as enquiries.

Or do you refer to the USA court case ? Here the Alien Tort Claims Act is being used to try and get the Colombian bottlers and the parent
company in the dock. But it can't be that one as initially the case was found to be inadmissible (though it is being appealed), so this is
obviously not the 'independent judicial enquiries' that you refer to,
is it?

So what 'independent judicial enquiries' are you referring to?

You do not mention the fact that the Coca Cola Company tried to silence the Colombian trade unionists who brought the case against
them in the USA. Coke offered to settle out of court to the tune of about $13 million on condition that they give up their jobs working in the Coke bottling plants and that the trade unionists never ever
criticise Coke nor any other company that work with Coke in the future. Had the trade unionists signed and taken the $13 million they would break the terms of the settlement and be liable to court action if they criticised you Richard.

Neither do you mention the trade union busting of the companies bottlers. The cases of Coke plant managers falsifying evidence against trade unionists, accusing them of terrorism. resulting in innocent men wrongly imprisoned for 6 months before the charges against them being dismissed.

You do mention the fact that over some 15 years the companies bottlers has gone from about 80% of the work force being in permanent
employment with 20% casual labour to the situation we now find, where 20% of the work force is permanent and 80% casualised with no rights
to even join a trade union.

Richard, I have spent some time in Colombia interviewing and taking testimony from people who witnessed Isidro Segundo Gil's murder to the delivery men who are not allowed to join a union. I am happy for you to have all of these interviews and for you to review them and see for
yourself. I can even put you in touch with the people themselves, so if you wish you can visit Colombia and talk to them face to face, I
think you would find them decent ordinary folk.

And so onto India, there are many stories here but let us stay with the stories about the Company opening plants (in a water intensive industry) in water sensitive areas with with little or not regard for the communities who find their water compromised and depleted. Once
again you say independent judicial enquiries have found claims unfounded. Once again I ask what independent judicial enquiries.

Firstly there are four plants where the companies operations have put the local community water in danger, in Kerala, near Jaipur and two in
Uttra Pradesh. Two of these four plants have been shut down after protests and legal challenges. Coke were forced to close these plants.

The two remaining plants are near Jaipur and near Varanasi, neither plants have had judicial enquiries that found any claims of water
depletion unfounded. So I am at a loss as to what judicial enquiries you refer to.

Happily for you Richard I have spent time in India too, and am happy for you to have access to all the interviews I have conducted with local people from all four of the plants, so you can hear for yourself what the allegations are.

Richard, you fail to mention the allegations that are raised against the company in Turkey regarding union busting or in El Salvador
regarding Coke's sugar being produced with the help of child labour. Neither do you refer to the allegations of union busting in Ireland or
the curt findings against the company in Mexico, where they were found to be in breech of anti monopoly law and intimidated some of the
poorest shop owners.

So I am happy to send you a copy of my book which details some of these things BUT more importantly I offer to make my research and interviews on all of these issues available for you to come and peruse, so you might be able to make a more balanced comment on your partnership with the company. I do not understand how you can make comments that Coke have a "relatively good track record in learning and making good on the things they get things wrong" without
considering these points.

Yours, Mark Thomas"

uh oh, I think you guys may have made a poor decision with this one, but most things you have done have turned out well so I'm interested to see what happens.

This wont stop me from buying innocent products but by the looks of things you will lose a lot of your buyers, you need to do something!

I think the guys at Innocent will have expected a backlash from this. However, my personal opinion is that surely Coca-Cola recognising the importance of both the ethical and environment responsibilities that a company has is important. Perhaps Coca-Cola will learn from Innocent? I hope so.

The Innocent ethos is strong and fellow customers, please lets give the team at Innocent chance to show that nothing's changed. Maybe we can even be optimistic that Innocent will use their links with Coca-Cola to address Coca-Cola's CSR record? I hope so.

Can't believe how disappointed I am with this. I will no-longer be purchasing your products. You sold out. It disgusts me.

Innocent is not innocent anymore! Innocent new that they will loose market share in the UK and weren't bothered about it because of the increaed money they will make by entering new markets. That's business! Innocent you have sinned...repent!

If you like innocent products then I would be happy about this.

This investment will allow innocent to be available in more places and it will mean that more great products like veg pots can be created.

For those of you that have said you will never buy an innocent product again - that is very sad. You will undoubtedly miss out on the exciting new products that I am sure will come out of this.

There are lots of things that make innocent the brand it is - the quality and taste of the products, the ethical standards, the content on the website / the bottles, the people who work at innocent but most importantly it is the drinkers / veg pot eaters (us). The passion shown in these comments is a testament to how strong the brand is today.

Say what you think, let innocent know what you want and I have no doubt it will be a large part of the consideration of what innocent do in the future...but don't miss out on the innovation.

All the best,

Jacob (I used to work for innocent)

So now it's 'GUILTY' Smoothies. eh?

Facebook shall be informed of this...and of Mark Thomas' book and his letter to you guys.

You might think that this response is coming from someone who is abnormally politically active, but no. This has just made me pretty unhappy. I'm probably your ideal target bracket. I even went to your fete last year and could be counted amongst all of your other middle class consumers.

Sooo disappointed.

I was always a bit cynical about Innocent's motives, but I never thought that you would sell out to Coca Cola. Coca Cola are not just any old drinks company, they have quite a track record.

Nothing talks like big wedges of cash, and don't try to pretend that it doesn't.

A very sad day.

As most others have said, I think this move is a disgrace to everything Innocent stood for for me. I was so sold by your company's small festival origins, and have rooted for you all through your expansion. But by putting money in coke's pockets, you are adding to one of the most horrendous companies I am aware of. With the string of deaths from union representatives to people in countries whose water supplies have been poisoned by this morally bereft company, you have joined up with people who stand for everything I believed you were against.

I understand the need for financial support in order for companies like yourselves to grow, but I can't believe there were no other options. And I also find it hard to believe that you think Coke will keep their big noses out when your business is now helping to line their pockets.

Although by no means a malicious move by you guys at innocent, it is my view that is at best a terribly misguided one. This is most upsetting. Sorry Innocent.

Innocent

I loved your product and everything that it stood for. But what leaves a sour taste in my mouth is that you now have your hand in Coke's pocket.

How very depressing.

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DONT DO THIS
COKE ARE EVIL AND RUBBISH!!
WHY INNOCENT, WHY?!?!?!
PLEASE DON'T DO THIS!!!
COKE ARE THE EVILEST COMPANT IN WORLD AND YOU CAN DO THIS ON YOUR OWN!
MY MOUTH DROPPED WHEN I HEARD THAT YOU HAD DONE THIS
PLEASE RE-THINK GUYS!!!
i love your smoothies but if coke are in this then sad times =(

Might I add it will be interesting to see what happens next, I'll still be drinking your smoothies cos I love 'em - best of a bad bunch I suppose!

I'm really on the fence on this subject. On the one hand, I have no particular aversion to buying the occasional Diet Coke (for the missus, personally I prefer Pepsi Max). On the other hand, you judge a man by the company he keeps, and Innocent have teamed up with a company so far removed from the Innocent values it's ridiculous.

I really love the smoothies and the veg pots, and no doubt I'll continue to buy them for now in the absence of a better product. I've been a real huge fan of the Innocent ethos, but I have to say my 'fandom' and willingness to buy Innocent products has been severely dented.

Innocent said: "The investment means we now have the funds to do what we’re here to do; get more healthy stuff to more people and places across Europe and beyond"

And in turn more dosh in your pockets. Goodbye innocent. Your halo has slipped!

I'm pretty annoyed by this as Coke has well documented human rights abuses in developing countries. Claiming to care about the farmers who grow the fruit whilst a significant investor destroys access to water and pervents workers joining trade unions doesn't really add up. You've lost a loyal customer.

What I think is really important is that everyone who is writing on this blog, saying that they're not going to buy anymore, actually follows through on their words. I think innocent will listen if their profits drop - and coke will probably want to drop their investment then as well.

One last point - at least you're letting us comment, innocent. Thanks for that.

What a shame, I loved your smoothies, OJ and meals.

Having read Mark Thomas's book about Coke - "Belching out the DEVIL" there is absolutely no way I will continue to purchase your products. I simply will not line Coke's pockets even if it is only 10-20%.

What an ethical sell-out!

Business is business, it's not always nice and at least there's still a chance to fight the good fight from the inside. Innocent are still for now a different approach in a nasty world and get my support. If things change then so be it (and I'm sure companies like Coca-Cola have been trying to get a bigger slice of Innocent's pie - mmm, Innocent pie - for years now) but for now make the most of what's good.

Really sad news. Another product with the Coca-cola 'brand on', not a good look for the innocent brand that has always felt so unique and genuine. I agree the USP has gone. Back to me, my juicer and the hand blender me thinks!! Put the money back into the local community, local farmers and NOT into multi million pound pockets of coca-cola! Very disappointed.

Such sad, sad news.

Gosh, what a lot of negative people there are in the world! Coke are interested in moving up the green and friendly scale and have bought into an ethical and groovy company in a respectful manner. Sounds quite positive to me that the ethical company gets a global platform to broadcast its values. Can we all please take a moment before we start the prejudicial soapbox screaming? Let's at least give peace a chance, people!

How could you do this?

I just discovered your wonderful veg pots; the answer to how to pick up a very tasty but healthy lunch that you can have every day in the office, and now the search has to begin again.

I'm not bothered about Coca-Cola selling sugar like some people seem to be, people can buy what they want, but you are unfortunately now compromising your ethical integrity by supporting a company that is alleged to willfully deny communities the basic human right of access to drinkable water so they can sell them bottled water.
(See <a href="http://www.killercoke.org/)">http://www.killercoke.org/)</a>

Sorry guys, but I can't buy from Nestle, Tesco or Coca-Cola and keep a clear conscience, and that now means unfortunately, I can no longer buy any Innocent products.

Thanks for all the joy you have brought us in the past. There's now a gap in the market for your ethically uncompromised replacement, lets hope they come soon.

Really sorry to see you've sold a share of the business to Coke. Fair enough that you want to expand the business - there are better ways to do it. Now you're no different to any other business that just happens to give some of its profits to charity. I'd think twice before buying an innocent smoothie again.

Please join the fb group:

Innocent is not Innocent: Facebook Against their Coke Shareholding.

Lets use all forums to show discontent. That way as many of your consumers as possible can find out how you've just screwed your brand.

I won't be buying any more innocent products. totally sold out. these things never work out - such a shame that greed wins out in the end. someone else will pick up the mantle hopefully.

spectacular owngoal. bye.

Sounds like a load of Coke and Bull ! I'm sure you could expand without their investment just a bit slower or asking your customers to invest. I loved the ethos of Innocent but it looks like you have taken the cash. Such a shame I've been buying your drinks for years, watering the tree you sent for Christmas for years too. I accepted paying a bit more for a company I agreed with. Looks like I won't be buying innocent smoothies anymore.

Our whole family have been avid, delighted and loud mouthed (when we first found you several years ago we bought loads for our friends & successfully converted them to your products)supporters of your brand and we were all saddened & confused by the news of the investment by Coca Cola from a company that has grown by supposedly being everything that Coca Cola isn't. I had to double check that the date wasn't April 1st.

As has been said above, minus quite a few customers & removing ourselves from your mailing list

Innocent no more!

Why choose a business partner with blood on their hands?

That's me you've lost as a customer, soon to be millions more once your company's name is added to the big list of socially and environmentally unethical products to avoid. Has anyone mentioned health?

What a pity your greed won over ethics!

<a href="http://www.killercoke.org/crimes.htm">http://www.killercoke.org/crimes.htm</a>

I do feel disappointed that you have chosen to allow Coca Cola to hold a minority of your shares. I think it's great that you want to spread Innocent smoothies to the rest of Eurpope. I was in Madeira last week and missed my daily smoothie fix...they don't have enough fibre in their diets! However, I think you are such a successful company that you could have managed to get in to the European market off your own backs even if it took that bit longer. I will probably still by Innocent smoothies but I think a lot of people will not and the perfect image of the brand has been tainted which is a real shame.

I’m not one to use these blog things but I do feel strongly enough to use this and tell you I think you’ve make a huge mistake. The reason for your popularity and my custom of your brand is because you were better then coke (ethically as well as taste). I despise the coke business ethic, I’ve not posted any new links there are enough already for everyone to read. You of all business models should know what is bad about coke, why else would you start up your business in direct contrast to cokes? I and all my family do not touch the coke brand nor the mcdonalds rubbish and now yours by association. Please remove me from your email distribution I now have no interest in your brand, drinks or fate – which is now doomed.

I'd like to add to my previous post that I don't have bad feeling about the people behind innocent. I'm sure you are great people, and I congratulate you on building an ethical business with all the right intentions. I'm still out, but I know you folks did a great job up to this point, and I hope you do what you can to keep it real and stay as innocent as possible. I can't join you on the journey forward, but I am given an inkling of comfort by the thought that just perhaps, some of your goodness could rub off on Coca Cola. Do your best.

Well, I just have to say how very sad I feel. Big business and their methods have brought us to the mess we are in now, and here you are, with a foothold on the same ladder. I don't see what was so wrong with being just a rather small, by global standards, wholly ethical company in the UK. I understand you say you want to get the message across to a wider audience, but why couldn't you have worked in co-operation with companies in all those other countries to help them follow your path?
Why is it necessary for you to be the ones supplying the product? I cannot rid myself of the conviction that it must be because of money. I am so afraid that the scenario mentioned earlier with regard to appletizer will come to pass for you.
I liked the earlier suggestion about shares being bought by your (hitherto) loyal customers, but it's too late now, so I'm joining the ranks of the 'exes'

I can only imagine this was not a decision taken lightly, and I'm sure the innocent founders prepared themselves for a backlash such as this.

For the record, I shall continue to buy innocent. Buying innocent makes me smile, and thats not going to stop just because you people have business sense as well as morals. The two are not mutually exclusive. Call me naive, but I have faith that you will not lose your values or your appeal, and hopefully you can teach Coke a thing or two about ethical business! Just keep doing things like you always have been, and I shall keep buying my daily bottle of innocent at lunch time! (i shall buy two today, because i am feeling sorry for you!)

That's fine. Innocent's still innocent, i don't see the problem. I still love you longtime ;)
x

My concern is that even though innocent will still be run by the same people in the same way, the profits will go to Coke. I can see why the step was taken, but wish that you had picked a more socially responsible partner. I guess the positive is that you are being open about it, so people can make an informed choice about whether to continue to buy or not.

I was outraged when L'Oreal bought The Body Shop, mainly because Body Shop Customers weren't made aware that profit now goes to a company that does test on animals. So, thank you for being honest about this at least.

What utter sell-outs.

I have had faith that your company was different. But sadly I was completely wrong.

I will not buy your products anymore, and I will make sure that all my friends, family and colleagues boycott you too. You've really let us down but allowing such a hideous company to own a percentage of yours.

So long Innocent. And remove me from the mailing list too.

Coca-Cola would not invest without a hope of making money however farsighted.

It may be like buying land in the hope that one day planning permission will be plausible.

I'm sure all this has already been said, but I'm just showing support for those of us who are as yet unconvinced. I have enjoyed seeing the success of such an independent company. It is a seemingly premium product that people have accepted as good value. But its priorities form part of that value.

Whilst I understand the continuing good work of innocent, its name has been tarnished for the first time. As such it will not be quite the dead cert it often was in the shopping basket.

innocent: I adore you. I like the trappings - I knit little hats, I read the emails, my kid's been in your focus groups and we were going to your summer fair when it was still free and small - but most of all I drink your drinks, and buy the kids ones to unfold and freeze to make really fabulous ice pops for my kid. Also: big props, really big props, for the recycled bottle. But Coca-cola, who are complicit in the abuse of workers and murder of trade union activists in Columbia, are to be your partners? What a disappointment! It doesn't matter if Coke (for the moment) let you run your business as you always have, as we all know that they will now share in the profits of every little bottle we buy, and I just don't want that. I don't buy Coke, and I really don't want to buy anything else that makes Coke a profit, however big or small. Everyone makes mistakes, and I think you've made a big one here. Maybe not for your business - plenty of people drink Coke, more than will ever complain here, and I have no doubt you will profit from this - but for your own peace of mind. Weren't you making enough money already? If there's any way to reverse it, I think it's something you need to do.

Hello Innocent, Just to wonder did you take down my post about Coca Cola's marketing techniques? To recap, they give away big shiny fridges to shopkeepers all over the world. Highly tempting cos these beasts cost loads. Then they rigorously enforce a policy of not allowing the shops to put anything into said shiny fridges except Coca Cola- controlled products. This means that small drinks companies with smaller budgets (remember those days Innocent?) get sidelined. So Innocent yes you made a smart marketing move to muscle your way into overseas markets. But what is the cost? Perhaps it makes it harder for small companies to start up themselves and compete. If Innocent is an adjunct of the Coke Empire, then they too can be alongside Coca Colas in those shiny fridges. You think you can preach ethics to Coca Cola? Look at what happens to those who have stood in the path of CC's pursuit of profits.

Hello Charis

We haven’t taken any comments down. Not yours, not anyone’s. You may find that it’s on a subsequent page, as each page only takes a certain amount of comments. Click the little double arrow ‘>>’ at the bottom of each page to advance to the next one. Thanks. (We've emailed a copy of this to you too)

dan

*sigh*

After speaking on the phone to one of your reps a year or so ago when you started to sell drinks at McDonald's, and having a good 10 minute discussion about morals and corporate ethics, I was quite happy to realise that McD's were just another customer, so you selling your drinks to them wasn't really any different to you selling your drinks to anyone else.

However, this COMPLETELY changes the scenario. How dare you have the audacity to continue using the name "innocent"?!?!

You say that your ethics won't be compromised by this investment, well I'm sorry, but they HAVE. By associating yourselves financially with them, you are saying that you're supporting what they stand for.

I'm not claiming to be a 100% ethical person. I'm not claiming that you should eschew all profits and donate everything to worthy causes. I understand how business works, but I think it's offensive for you to claim to be an independent and ethical company when you have money pouring into your bank accounts from a company that couldn't give even half a damn about anything other than itself.

I used to genuinely believe that innocent were a special company - a unique company that wouldn't compromise on anything, but sadly it's apparent that you're just A. N. Other company that will do whatever it takes to succeed.

Ironically, I have no problems with the concept of companies that set out to earn a profit for themselves, as long as they have the guts to admit it.

However, for a company that has become popular BECAUSE they of what they claim to stand for, that sounds like backpedalling because they've had a dirty suitcase of cash waved tantalisingly under their noses.

The faux-jolliness and friendly nature doesn't stick any more. The mask has slipped to reveal exactly what you are.

No point in buying innocent smoothies any more if they're willing to do things like this at the drop of a hat. May as well just buy Sainsbury's own brand smoothies and save a bit of money. I know they're not a shining example of ethical shopping, but they've never claimed to be. Hypocrisy is much, MUCH worse.

How many other ways are you going to find to scoot around your 'promises'?

Anyway, good luck. I'm sure you couldn't give a flying stuff about us people not buying your products any more, or leaving the list, because you'll gain a load more international fans who'll unquestionably believe your twee schtick.

Innocent stood for something special, against everything that the big companies like coke represent. All that has been destroyed in one simple move, innocent has lost its innocence and me as a customer.

I am slightly dissapointed. It is so confusing - i hate coke and love innocent!

However, people should see that this could actually promoting healthy eating/drinking and ecological products around the world with the push of such a global company as coke. Which is the aim.

But you have sold your quaint and quirky character and i will buy the products less frequently. I may have been weak enough to do the same thing in your posistion though.

I'd like to congratulate everyone at innocent for taking the bull by the horns and making one of the most difficult decisions you must ever have made.

As someone working for a business struggling to keep its head above water in 2009, I ask myself the question would I rather see you with Coke and around this time next year or gone from the shelves completely?

I respect those that would have chosen the second option. But personally, I hold onto the idea that it's better for you to exist in one form or another.

And if anyone doubts the legitimacy of my two options, tell me this - how would you have taken on Tropicana and won? They already take up half the chilled cabinet in any supermarket and with their cash to flash it's only going to get worse.

Oh dear - how disappointing will now boycott you as I do anything to do with Coca-cola. have you read <a href="http://www.killercoke.org/">http://www.killercoke.org/</a>

Too late though for you

I did worry when I heard that Innocent had "Sold out" to Coke. But after reading the letter and comments on the site I have to agree with some others on here that I will continue to buy Innocent.
The company makes, sells and promotes healthy, tasty and decent priced products. The end.
How many of you research the financial and business backgrounds of every company you purchase from?
They are running a business at the end of the day and surely it was always a natural move to want to expand, given their success.
Who knows, we may start to see wooly hats on coke cans by Christmas!

You ask how we feel - Bereaved is my answer.
I am grieving for the loss of a good friend turned traitor

I can not imagine a brand more diametrically opposed to what Innocent claims to stand for than Coke.

You guys were such paragons of social marketing and now you've absolutely blown it. You've created a 'tribe', appealed to people's emotions, and now you've broken their hearts.

The own brand supermarket smoothies are looking more and more appealing.

It's time to stand up against the Innocent bashers and stand up for taste!

To the tree huggers who think they have been making a difference to the world by choosing Innocent Smoothie over other brands - you are wrong! If you really want to make a difference, give your money to charity, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, help old people across the road and smile more often!

Once you've done that you can choose all your food including your smoothies based on what you like and can afford, rather than choosing it based on your ethical or political views. On taste alone, Innocent wins hands down. We've all (apart from the tree-huggers) been tempted by bogofs and 2 for £4 etc deals on non-Innocent smoothies. The bottom line is that these don’t taste as good!

I’ll be continuing to robotically pick up my cartons of Innocent as I walk past the juice section in the supermarket and continuing to enjoy the great taste. When it comes to smoothies, you Can't Beat the Real Thing, so Open Happiness, Enjoy and remember, Life tastes Good (with Innocent)…

I have always supported Innocent and didn't mind paying the extra for what I considered to be an ethical brand. Now I'm afraid I won't be buying your yummy smoothies as while I understand your reasons for selling a minority share to coca-cola, I cannot personally bring myself to add to the profits of a company which are responsible for many well documented breaches of human rights.

Well, lets face it, its not a surprise that they have sold out is it?

Having worked for innocent in the past I can say that innocent is run, first and foremost, as a business. The main aim is to make money, pure and simple. The ethical sourcing, cute branding, and 'wacky' way of communicating is all for show, it creats a brand identity that will encourage people to buy the product. People buying the product = more money, simples. Echoing another comment, staff are treated badly, and paid worse, turnover is massive and morale is low. But it doesnt stop the company making money from consumers does it?

This business-orientation is why innocent worked with McDonalds (where it was semi-noble in intent, but mostly for the money), but by selling a large chunk of the company to coke the founders have shown that they care more about the money than where it comes from.

The hope clearly is that in a month everyone will have forgotten that they have done this. They wont be putting Coke's name on their packaging, so most people wont know that they have sold out, and the business will carry on making money...

If you think that innocent 'cared', they dont. If you think that innocent is 'cool and funky', they arent. If you think they had any moral dilemma about selling out to coke, they didnt. They just worried that it might affect their sales... but not for long.

Like the vast majority of people posting I am very disappointed indeed at your decision, which has completely compromised your ethical approach and taken you back to your fund-management days. Sadly your acceptance of an investment from one of the least ethical companies in the world means you can no longer claim to have any ethics yourselves, and the only way from here is downhill, fast. And, like most people above, I will no longer buy your products and no longer subscribe to your newsletter.

You say your Dead exited about Coca Cola owning 20 % of innocent....
Interesting use of words.....i have to say i will never feel the same or as good again about your product.
Can you do something to turn this around?

Oh dear. Yet another lemming falls to the lure of the Capitalist dream - let's not sugar coat it up in terms of 'we want the world to benefit from our wonderful drinks' - you simply want your baby (the business) to grow and grow, understandable especially if you run your own small business (as I do), however you have to draw a line of business growth vs morals and ethics, and you have now crossed that line.
Such a shame, another (tiny) group of customer lost in myself and my extended family. Coke won't be happy with the exodus and might remove your toys? One can only hope, greedy children should get what they deserve.

Its like when loreal bought bodyshop - all the good things of the company disappeared and although the products wont change, at the end of the day the profits now go to promoting huge companys who dont care about anything but profit. I didnt mind that the smoothies were more expensive, as the ethics were something i could believe in. now i dont think i'll bother. thanks a lot. i guess the directors at Innocent were only interested in the cash after all.

I'm sure it's already been said, but Coke money is dirty money, end of conversation. No excuses, never going near your product again

Hi
I am/was a huge fan of innocent. Like so many people I was really inspired not just by the drinks but by the ethics. Reading this news today I feel totally let down. No more innocent drinks for me.

I understand that businesses need to expand, but the inspiring story of the founders ditching their day jobs to follow a dream to create an ethical, independent and successful company really has lost its shine. It's a sad state of affairs that one of the few major brands I can think of that truly kept their 'small business' ethos despite huge growth has to go down this route.

I'm not as ruthless as others posting here (in fact I'm drinking a can of Dr Pepper at the moment - boo hiss!), and won't rule out buying any more of your products, but my interest level in signing up to your mailing lists, reading your website and buying into your brand has dropped hugely.

There's plenty of other smoothie companies out there but the reason, I feel, that Innocent got so much market share was the development of an 'Innocent Family' whereby the addtional money you paid as a consumer was reflected fairly in the charity work and environmental improvements Innocent made.

Innocent just isn't as unique anymore - if nothing else, I expected wiser judgement in gaining extra investment. As others have mentioned, it's one thing needing to expand, but it's quite another to actively damage your USP but still expect people to buy your products.

Rats, it's not April the first.

Please consider me another of the truely disappointed with your choice of business partner. I don't know if I will ever buy an innocent smoothie again, but you're not top of my list anymore. I think I'd rather pay more for a competitor than have *anything* to do with Coke.

Certainly won't be taking part in any of your projects, even the knitted hats. I'll donate my own money to the charity of my choosing.

I have also unsubscribed from your emails. Good luck with what you've done.

Just get Mcdonalds and Coke to have a stand at your fete.. why not let them have a share in your innovative ideas and ethical thinking to improve their status by doing nothing to change their own ways. V. disappointed. If you do manage to change Coke's ethics and make them into a good company then seriously hats off. But really let's be honest...

Ok, right, so it looks like you've lost many old customers, but that doesn't, in itself, matter all that much.

A suggestion then: why don't you bring your ethical profile a bit higher by starting to produce also organic smoothies? They will cost more, but they will be better for the enviroment and some of the old people will get back on board surely (noone does fresh organic smoothies of the type innocent, does, i.e. without concentrate)...

Think about it. And, well, yes, it was very disappointing news but it's this capitalist word we live in and I would not have expected anything else.

I have been a loyal customer for years but I'm afraid I will be joining the ranks of those no longer buying Innocent. I boycott Coca-Cola products because of their human rights record in South America (which was brought to my attention by this programme www.channel4.com/news/articles/dispatches/mark+thomas+on+cocacola/1068847)

I have to agree with the majority of posts above. I feel a bit stupid for identifying so strongly with the brand as I suddenly feel the difference now that Coca-Cola is a significant shareholder. We're all aware that Innocent is a business but I think they had an unprecedented amount of customer loyalty among people with ethical standards and among people who just like to feel they are eating as healthily as they can - the marketing made us all feel like we were in a special little club with the people who work at Innocent. Clearly we're not, as no one asked us to throw empty bottles into a bin marked "No to Coca-Cola".

It's a sad day when one of the companies I looked up to and valued becomes associated with Coke. You may be able to run the business your way but I refuse to give money to Coke on the grounds of their human rights and environmental history - you have now partnered with a company that dessimates water supplies, allows killings of its workers and many, mnay other corporate crimes.

I though innocent, if they had to partner, would have chosen someone who would have the same ethics and drive as yourselves - now you have just become a PR tool for them, you have given them the justification to carry on with all their bad practices because they can hold you up as a flagship for all their supposed green works.

Sometimes it may be better to go with second best rather than compromise your integrity.

I'm sorry that I have to discontinue buying your products as I really loved your drinks, your ethics, the whole of innocent. It's a sad day for me.

I wish you all the best for the future.

Having seen the Mark Thomas programme where it was proved without a shadow of doubt that Coca Cola covered up the murders of union members in Columbia, and shown the foul toxic waste that they find it acceptable pollute those areas with, I find it impossible to believe that Innocent thought it appropriate to take even a penny of their money on board.

Basically, I suppose I was a little naive and thought that Innocent were a caring, ethical company. However, once that demon word "GREED" comes into play, and let's face it, that's what this move into Europe comes down to, however you dress it up, then principles seem to go out of the window.

I'm very disappointed by this news, and Innocent will NOT be finding it's way into MY shopping basket any more.

I'll be remembering the good stuff you did, but you've become just another tainted company.

Adios

First thing I said when I saw it was 'why couldn't they look at the Co-op or asked customers to invest...'

So sadly - I'm also an ex customer - it was great while it lasted but the 'business reason's' excuse (some of us actually know stuff about business as well) patronises beyond belief.

You've sold out. And all your 'justifications' tell me that deep down you know that as well.

There are a number of things I could try to say but I might end up sounding like the audience members who shouted out on the Bob Dylan tour and I would rather not do that, instead I shall just unsubscribe. I can also look forward to saving money in future by not making the effort to buy innocent in favour of lesser brands.

Gosh, people. Does it really matter? As long as Innocent continue to make amazing drinks and support all the charities they do, surely that's what counts? They are a business. They are not here for fun. They are fun people, but they are in BUSINESS. Now stop throwing your toys out of your prams and go out a grab a smoothie. You know you want to!

Well done to Innocent is all I say. You're positively ripping. Whoop whoop!! x

A few weeks ago i was reading the side of the inocent smothie carton. It told me that it would cost more to make my own smothie than to buy an Innocent smothie. But i don't mind paying more to be ethical.

I guess there is no such thing as a large AND Ethical company.

Although I do not like the thought that part of my money from the sale of a smoothie is going to Coca-Cola, I do want to be optimistic and think that Innocent have done the right thing. I think that a lot of customers will be lost which is a shame but maybe they could be won back once something positive and tangible comes out of this. I wish you the best of luck Innocent - I think you will need it...

This was my reply to the personalised e-mail we all get for posting, thought I should show how Innocent do still care maybe we should trust their decisions until they mess up.

Hi Dan,

Thank you for your reply. I won't stop buying innocent products, I still think Innocent are one of the best companies around and I support nearly everything you do. I was just a bit disappointed about the news. I don't make all the most ethical choices I could do either so I suppose I'm a bit hypocritical, innocent just made me happy that they were so committed to the cause. I suppose coke are the lesser of two evils in terms of progressing the good work you have done. Thank you for replying it does show that Innocent are the same Innocent and value their customers opinions. I hope you have success in the new venture and I really do hope you change some of coke's ethics and you don't lose some of yours along the way.

all the best,

Polly

Yet another disappointed now ex-customer...

I think the points have been pretty well covered in previous comments. Coke are evil and I won't buy products that have anything to do with them. Its a real shame as I like your smoothies and orange juice and get through a few a week but I'm not going to change my principles to purchase a drink I like the taste of. I do hope you can convince Coca-Cola to change their ways I am however doubtful you'll manage it as they don't appear to have listen to anyone else on the matter :(

Oh Innocent. I can see the "business sense" and even the arguments for getting fruit out there. But Coca Cola? For me it's a wait and see but I won't be going out of my way to buy your products at the moment, I'll get some more fruit and dig out my blender. I feel a bit of a fool and like many other people confused and strangely gutted by this news.

I'm in two minds about this. Yes, it's good that you will have more money to expand into Europe. However, giving a stakehold to a giant such as Coca-Cola will inevitably have its drawbacks and sacrifices. Investments could have been done by more ethical companies, so I'm rather disappointed that Innocent haven't stood on their own two feet. Nevertheless, as long as things really don't change, I shall back you up. Join Unilever and you've lost my faith.

Very disappointed, will not be buying innocent smoothies again.

What a shame! I'm not a Coke hater myself, but the Innocent brand is definitely at odds with what Coke is all about. And to suggest you might be able to teach them anything is quite funny, like a flea trying to teach a steam roller! I hope you get the world domination Coke is offering, but at what price?

If this allows the business to become more effective and efficient without lessening the quality of the end product, and those efficiency savings can be passed on to the consumer, it is good news for me as a consumer.

I suspect it may be the case that there exists a relatively silent majority who purchase innocent products for their taste and possibly for their health benefits, not for a numinous 'warm feeling' at the check-out.

Guys,

I'm still out on this one, giving you guys the benefit of doubt just because I have been such a big fan of Innocent for so many years.

I, too, was majorly disappointed when I heard about the decision. I am on my third year of boycotting Coke and kinda hoped it was a late April Fool's joke.

It's obvoius that you need to address the Coke ethical issues, and quickly. And I don't mean the issue of feeding kids sugar. I could care less about that. I do mean murder and water shortages in India. I was actually very surprised you didn't address them in this post, given who your targeted customer base is.

Jury's out, but only for so long.

Fair play to you guys. The public image of Coca-Cola can be very different to the one you work with on a business level.
Perhaps some of the more negative posts reflect an image that has been portrayed on various websites.
Don't get me wrong, every company has it's failings but when I worked with Coke, through the wholesalers I worked for, they were the guys I could rely on for a sizeable donation or sponsorship for anything raising money towards good causes.

P.S.
Good luck guys, I really hope it works out for you x

There is a significant difference between doing a good deed in order to capitalise on its marketing value and doing a good deed because you believe that to be the right thing to do.

Coke may well occasionally do the former, particularly in relatively well regulated countries, where the publicity value suits its profit margins.

However there are also numerous allegations of Coke acting unethically, particularly in less regulated countries, to suit its profit margins.

This news came to me ironically after I had jut closed the window on which I was watching Mark Thomas' Dispatch programme regarding Coke Cola.
Recently I have been finding myself spending night upon night educating myself with the state of the world trying to reconcile what action I should take, it seems to me that we are going to be forced into self sufficiency and micro economy.
I have much praised your smoothies as I agree that it costs less to now buy your smoothies then the fruit itself and have been a stark campaigner of your goods.

Alas I wish not to give a penny to the coke foundation ergo I will be unable to buy your drinks, good luck with maintaining a 'hands of approach' with one of the most powerful monetary forces when water supplies become increasingly short. It is a sad day there seems to be very few places to look now to get true 'innocent drinks' so I encourage all that are able to dig up their gardens fill them with fruits and just start making or own smoothies,straight from our garden into our blender into the cup.... The NEW INNOCENT SMOOTHIE

I have been a customer since the beginning and I wear my Taste Bud badge with pride. I will continue to do so, but I will now be watching very VERY closely.

I buy the argument that any investment in healthy drinks from coke is a good sign that they may be shifting their focus and I'm crossing my fingers that is the case.

I second the suggestion from Dan that innocent could have sold special cartons to us for £10 - £15 that came with shares, I would have fallen over myself to buy such a thing.

Maybe next time guys?

People get over yourselves....its just some backing, seriously those of you who are now not bothering to buy the smoothies are just well.....silly!

I feel for you innocent, there's a lot of hate towards what you've done but I think it's just fine....

So disappointed to hear the news. My family boycott the Coca cola company because of the way it runs it business in developing countries i.e diverting water to the bottle plants and giving toxic fertiliser to farmers to name but two, as well as the strange shooting of union reps in Columbia. I am afraid that another family has just stopped buying your products.

quote above.......never mind to me who owns you as long as your products still taste so good......

welcome to the new world guys, welcome to your new customers. Welcome to the world of I don't care what happens to those weird people with funny coloured skin in far off places so long as my breakfast tastes good...... its a bright new horizon of global branding, paying off local war lords, squeezing startups out of business, dominating market niches, cutting corners to meet demand.......just one compromise at a time. Enjoy the rest of your rich lives and try not to think about those naive and optimistic days when you started with a dream.

Your kids will love the playboy lifestyle they are going to inherit, they will thank the lord their Daddies didn't give a damn.

Having breifly read the email (Quite late i must add) i feel that the investment from Coca Cola is a good idea as it will help you (Innocents) for fill your main aims and objectives. One concern is the power this new share holder has on the business but again my mind has been rest ashured that there are agreements that will limate to power of Coca Cola.

Overall good decision making skills and wel done....

Yours Milan Novakovic :)

Proud Drinker...

Well, guys I am at a quandary.
I really, really, really do like your smoothies.
I really, really, really do not like Coke and big (american) predatory corporations such as Coke.
I'm not going to jump up and say I'm not going to buy your smoothies again, neither am I going to say that I understand what you have done and I will not stop. I need to think about it.
In the spirit of your cartons' labels, shame on you and if I knew your mums, I would tell on you...

Goes against your own ethical standards. Now every smoothie sold will be lining the pockets of the execs at Coke.

There's a reason I don't drink Coke. I really can't see me buying any more Innocent products after this.

Surely a bank would have provided a better, more neutral source of funds?

Like many people above, I choose not to buy products from Coca-Cola. So from now on I won't be buying your smoothies. I'll be sorry to lose them, but that's the price one pays for having principles. And sticking to them.

How can you 'loyal customers' be so cruel? They need money to get this amazing load of smoothies to other places and just because it meand Coke gets some of the profits doesn't mean Innocent is 'tainted'(I'm looking at YOU, L Mitchell) These people have a right to get a little financial help. Plus with this money inoccent will move to places where Coke is the tastiest thing around, and Innocent will come and change that, giving a more ethical tasty drink to many people.

I just read Darren's comment-

You did NOT insult the village fete! It is still an amazing thing and I somehow doupt the village fete would have Coke signs everywhere. Dont expect the name to change to Innocokecent, it's just a small change. I think some people just can't handle change

what some people don't get is that coke may be evil, and so dragged innocent down the ethical ladder, it means that innocent can get more for the charities they currently support. also it's still one of the most ethical drinks companies on the market

coke may be evil...... [but] ....... it means that innocent can get more for the charities

That doesn't make any moral sense. No I suggest we all forget it, we were just STUPID dupes. I feel really stupid now that I realise I allowed myself to be infantalised by their stupid childish fetes and stupid videos and childish packaging.

I can't believe how my perception of this company and its product has turned 180 deg so quickly.

I meant to add: How long before this talkback board gets closed down because - people were using it irresponsibly - then how else are we going to tell your Mummies (God how did we ever think that was charming?) that we despise the coke decision.

seems like a small price for your principles to be bought for, your insistence that you will be able to keep your company the same seems like you're trying awfully hard to convince yourselves that that's true. all the blogs and anger just show how disappointed eveyone is

Are you rebranding as Corrupted ?

No more innocent smoothies for me. Coke own tons of companies and don't do it ethically at ALL. Really thought we were going to have a great successful business from our own shores here. Such a pity. I really liked the new veg pots as well. Shame.

I'm sorry, but I boycott Coca Cola Company, too.

Now I really have to think about buying Innocent next time...

Please Join Facebook group called:

Innocent Smoothies - give back Coca-Cola's dirty money

A small note to correct some inaccuracy - none of our founders ever worked at Coke. Adam worked at Virgin Cola for a short while many years ago, but not Coke.

Also, to answer Steve's point (6.19pm), we won't be closing down this thread. The point of us having a blog is that it's open to comment from anyone with a point of view, as you can see from all of the above comments.

Hi Dan,
I appreciate your keeping the blog open and allowing for critique of the Coke-up.

Is there any way of adding page links at the base of each page? (or at least somewhere prominent on page one). Currently it is very tricky to navigate and I suspect many never get beyond page one.

I'm sure others would like to navigate the comments and see your clarifications.

Thanks / Paul

Very sad about this. I appreciate what you stand to gain by having coke's support but I am not willing to give money to coke by buying innocent smoothies, I will be making my own from now on.

Hello Paul (12.19am)

I'll talk to our web man (Ted) about seeing if we can make the navigation any better. I think we may be slightly at the mercy of the Typepad blog software that we use, but there may be an option. I did add a postscript at the bottom of the body of the original post itself expaining how the navigation should work, so hopefully people are seeing that.

Dan

You deserve congratulations on how good your marketing has been over the past 10 years! You've managed to convince so many people that you were more than just another business, and helped them forget that like all businesses you had a bottom line to worry about!

Anyway, in the same way that Pret (a company which seems to have a similar ethos (and marketing approach) to you) managed to survive being part of Macca D's, I'm sure you'll be pretty much the same too.

All the people talking about finding another small smoothie maker to support reminds me of the South Park episode which is a satire of people who complain about WalMart, with the wonderful twist at the end as the local shop they use instead slowly expands across the world instead. We live in a capitalist society, and what you have done reflects that. You've managed to do it without putting profit above all else (although I'm sure it's near the top), and I hope you maintain that ethos.

So well done, and keep up the good work.

PS Please don't move from Goldhawk Road to Hammersmith Broadway. I like the idea that people can pop into Fruit Towers, and the Coke building's a bit of a fortress...

The problem here is that you grew the business with a model that was ethical, people centered, and sustainable. Then instead of trying some new ways of raising money, you decided to jump to the large corporate investment model with a company with has a tremendous amount of bad karma attached to it. Of course you could have done worse (Dow Chemical?) but you could have done so much better. At the end of the day you have shown a tremendous lack of creativity, something I had always admired about your company.

I will continuse to buy Innocent smoothies - they're brilliant! I honestly can't see what all the fuss is about with Coke. I see it as Innocent making a pragmatic, sensible decision to allow them to continue to sell their smoothies to a wider audience and not get wiped out by less ethical competition. If Coke want to invest in buying shares of Innocent smoothies - then that's great too. :-) I'm sure there are a lot worse uses that Coke's money could be put to.

Hello innocent,

Is everything final, contracts and stuff?

I don't have much money, but I'd give all I could if meant you had a choice.

If you were able to go back now, I think everyone would feel such a rush of love for you that every smoothie on the shelves would be gone within a few hours.

Lots of love,
Sarah x

I can't believe you guys have sold out in such a way, and to one of the worst companies imaginable! You could have only taken cash for Nestle or the Mafia to have taken a worse stance! I've loved your smoothies, your juices and your ethics, and, recently, the veg pots, but I, as with the majority of commentators here, will no longer feel able to buy your products as to do so would, in the long run, mean I was supporting killer coke!
You are no longer the company we loved, and are no longer able to claim to be Innocent! I shall miss you greatly, but cannot justify your new 'non-ethics'!
Bye from another sad ex-customer!

Innocent? Not any more.

What a sad, sad day - I wish you luck and hope your dreams are sweet....

Bye bye my friends

Hi Paul.

We've had a look into it but unfortuantely we can't change the navigation to further blog comments ourselves, it's part of the new typepad functionality. Unless anyone knows any HTML tricks I don't?

On a separate note we've had to remove the links to your facebook group from this blog and our own facebook page as your page contains the use of quite prominent swearing at the minute. If you can remove the swearing we're quite happy for you to re-link it again. Hope you understand.

I am very disappointed. I agree with a previous poster who said that now Innocent are just the fig leaf to Coca Cola's embarrassing issues. Reverse the decision - give the money back. You can raise capital other ways.

'Nuff said.

'minus another customer'

Hello Ted / Dan,
As you can edit start of page one, can 'Page Two, Page Three' etc be added here and linked to their respective web urls?
&/or highlight that people can navigate later pages by editing the end of the url

Regarding your removal of links to the 'Innocent Smoothies - give back Coca-Cola's dirty money' Facebook Group. I don't see anything there that would make even Father Ted blush. Is censorship the next compromise needed to facilitate expansion?

Good Luck guys! Keep doing what you're doing and prove all the doubters wrong. Love Caroline x

Gutted, this just feels wrong! I will be avoiding buying Innocent from now on and just make my own smoothies.

Very sad that greed got ther better of you. Ethical business principles went out of the window when Coke came calling with their money. Shame on you.

Another sad day for ethical business reminiscent of the Body Shop and L'Oreal announcement or Pret and McDonalds. Understandably they were struggling in the current economic climate but surely there were other options...? There is one defining reason people buy these products and that reason expires the minute a partnership like this is announced regardless of the reasons for it. I'm deeply disappointed.

Dear Dan & Ted,
Our Facebook group has now removed or obscured the words that I assume you were referring to.

The group aims to encourage innocent to reconsider the decision to become part owned by Coca-Cola and to return to the sound ethical principles that we knew and loved about innocent.

I work for the second largest coca-cola bottling plant in the world in Downey, California. If people would really do their research. They would find that coca-cola and their bottlers are making huge and positive changes in the world. At a personal cost of billions of dollars. That they don't have to be spending, IE largest world wide fleet of hybrid delivery trucks. World's largest bottle to bottle recycling plant. Using less water and PET, energy , recharging aquifers & replanting forests. One of the last industries in the USA. That has no been out sourced to a third world. American bottlers earn a living wage and good benefits. Would someone please do their research. Please bring forth truth and sanity. Quit the mob mentality. This is a global company. They are using their size and profits to effect real positive global change in the world. I personally know that huge numbers of our population and our planet are better off today than if there was no Coca-Cola. Please, would someone research and spread the word about this. Not just the angry squeaky wheels.

I work for the second largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in the world in Downey, California. If people would really do their research. They would find that Coca-Cola and their bottlers are making huge and positive changes in the world. At a personal cost of billions of dollars. That they don't have to be spending, IE largest world wide fleet of hybrid delivery trucks. World's largest bottle to bottle recycling plant. Using less water and PET, energy , recharging aquifers & replanting forests. One of the last industries in the USA. That has not been out sourced. American bottlers earn a living wage and good benefits. Would someone please do their research. Please bring forth truth and sanity. Quit the mob mentality. This is a global company. They are using their global size and global profits to effect real positive global change in the world. I personally know that members of our population and our planet are better off today than if there was no Coca-cola. Please, would someone research and spread the word about this. Not just the angry squeaky wheels.

I felt sick while reading about this. I wont be buying innocent any more and i usually buy a lot!! also where is this assumption coming from that we all buy from tesco. i buy my weekly shop from my local natural and organic grocery store which i will be informing them and the other customers that innocent no longer fits the criteia for their shop. well done 'innocent' you took blood money.

Dear Richard,

I was very disappointed to read about your deal with Coca Cola!

Basically, you've sold your soul to the devil and it will go downhill from here. Do you really believe you'll withstand the pressure of a huge concern as Coca Cola? Once you've offered them your little finger they will slowly but surely eat you up entirely (not just your arm!). You will be swallowed whole in no time!

I actually believe that you have the best intentions to stand to your principles and that you actually do want to, in your words 'in some small ways we may be able to influence their thinking'.

It's entirely unrealistic. These people eat people like you for breakfast!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling you stupid, naive or anything the like. After all you must have a good idea about business dealings after being around for 10 years. But the people behind the Coca Cola company are ruthless and the only thing that matters to a company as such is cash.

Yes, their product is successful. It's also full of sugar, and some of the worst ingredients you can think of. It's probably one of the unhealthiest food stuff around. And it's been around for such a long time that nobody can imagine a world without it. They even invented Father Christmas as we know him today! That's why they can get away with murder (as a manner of speaking....however, there is people arguing that you could use the phrase literally as well but I don't know enough about it to make such a claim.). Because it doesn't matter how much bad press they going to get, people will still buy their product.

Now your product is different! And it is successful! For all the right reasons: Great ingredients, inspiring marketing strategy and sound ethical principles! You also managed to fill a huge market gap to a growing consumer group who had enough of big companies who make billions but treat people (including their staff, suppliers and customers) only as a source of money! The reason why people like myself are happy to spend a bit more on your product is not just the brilliant product. It's also the faith they have in your company. Or should I say, had!

There is already other companies out there copying your approach. And you are now loosing the faith of many loyal customers. They might just consider the product in the shelf next to yours for exactly this reason.

innocent and Coca Cola shouldn't be dealing with each other for so many reasons!

The biggest reason for me is that when I stand in front of a shelf of drinks I want to be able to pick a real alternative to that bottle of Coke to go. I don't only want to do something for my health when I pick that innocent smoothie! I want to feel a bit better about the world for choosing it! Because I want to believe it's not all about cash! (I know, it's getting a bit cheesy but I actually think this is not just how I feel but a big percentage of your customers)

Please reconsider! Keep growing slowly but steadily without the Coca Cola investment. You've been doing well so far, you don't need them! Of course it would give you a push but in the long term you'll be better of staying independent...or with a partner with similar business ideals then your own.

Regards,
Sara -one loyal smoothie drinker and new pot eater

I just keep coming back to the same thing - by letting Coke buy a part of you you are endorsing all of their business practices. Regardless of how far you try to remain ethical, you have somehow accepted that it is okay that they are not.

I've followed innocent since the very early days, passionately. I'm sad to say you've lost another valued customer.

Coca-Cola is becoming the single most positive influence in the world. To curtail global warming. Increasing recycling. Recharging aquifers, replanting forests. Breast cancer research,saving Polar Bears. Helping communities with school funds. The list is endless.

Alexander Vien IV - are you trying to be funny?

Featuring Polar Bears in their Christmas advertising does not count as saving them.

When Coca-Cola start the worldwide Diabetes Research Fund, I might think about listening.

Paul

Thanks for cleaning up that facebook page. As you'll know from reading through all of the comments on this thread, we're happy for people to link to external sites, whether they be positive or negative about us or Coke, but we have a policy of not linking to anything with foul language or unnecessary/unreasonable abuse. We make smoothies for kids, so plenty of kids use the site, and we try to keep things clean as much as is possible considering the interconnectedness of the web.

Thanks

Dan

:(
Body Shop, Neal's Yard Remedies, Green & Blacks and now Innocent. You all sell out in the end and then try to justify it... so much for the brave new world...no more innocent drinks for me.....

Loved your smoothies and really believed in your innocence. This is now gone.
I thought you are marketing experts but this was a terrible mistake. Why???
Won't buy your stuff any more and will spread the word.

This is just one of many sites that shows what I am saying is accurate and people need to do their research.
<a href="http://polarbears.thecoca-colacompany.com/polarbearsupportfund/index.jsp">http://polarbears.thecoca-colacompany.com/polarbearsupportfund/index.jsp</a>

Here you go UNIMPRESSED FACE:
Coca-Cola has sponsored and supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund
<a href="http://www.jdrf.org/files/chapters_and_affiliates/central_florida_chapter_/2006TeeUptoCureDiabetesGolfTournament.pdf">http://www.jdrf.org/files/chapters_and_affiliates/central_florida_chapter_/2006TeeUptoCureDiabetesGolfTournament.pdf</a>

<a href="http://www.antonnews.com/greatneckrecord/2007/07/27/sports/jdwalk.html">http://www.antonnews.com/greatneckrecord/2007/07/27/sports/jdwalk.html</a>

To UNIMPRESSED FACE: More food for thought.

<a href="http://polarbears.thecoca-colacompany.com/polarbearsupportfund/take_action/index.jsp">http://polarbears.thecoca-colacompany.com/polarbearsupportfund/take_action/index.jsp</a>

<a href="http://polarbears.thecoca-colacompany.com/polarbearsupportfund/our_commitment/index.jsp">http://polarbears.thecoca-colacompany.com/polarbearsupportfund/our_commitment/index.jsp</a>

More food for thought:<a href="http://www.cokecorporateresponsibility.co.uk/carbontrust/reducing-our-carbon-footprint.html">http://www.cokecorporateresponsibility.co.uk/carbontrust/reducing-our-carbon-footprint.html</a>

Am disappointed, as are so many others.
Have unsubscribed from your emails and wish you all well, but there's a significant difference to innocent now - and lots of us don't like it.
Shame on you.

How can Innocent claim to be ethical when they are selling shares to one of the most unethical companies in the world.

I work for a trade union who have been campaigning against Coca Cola since July 2003 in response to the company's activities in Colombia and India.

Coca-Cola stand accused of hiring paramilitary groups to assassinate trade unionists and intimidating, kidnapping and imprisoning hundreds more of their own workers and their families.

Sinaltrainal, the Colombian Food and Drink Workers' Union, has called for an international boycott of Coca-Cola and all its products.

The campaign is supported by Colombia's two main trade union federations - the CUT and the CGTD - and by the World Social Forum.

For more information about the struggles in Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia see the Killer Coke website.

Communities in India have also joined the campaign in protest at Coca-Cola's business practices that they claim have caused extensive water shortages & pollution.

Coca-Cola products in India contain 30 times as much pesticide as allowed in the European Union.

You can find out more about Coca-Cola's activites in India on the India Resource Center website.

As Innocent have now placed themselves under the umbrella of Coca Cola this boycott of Coca Cola products will now extend to Innocent drinks.

Well done guys - I hope your business model can sustain the drop in sales/profits that Innocent products will see over the next year as a result of selling your soul to the devil.

It's like a vegan health store selling a part share to KFC, and then claiming the same commitment to animal welfare...

Bad move, Innocent.

When Richard spoke at Warwick University last year, he stated that Innocent aimed to prove that big business needn't be bad business. What went wrong?

I have been boycotting all Coca Cola products for nearly five years (see www.killercoke.org) and will not be making an exception for you.

Furthermore, I find it thoroughly disingenuous of Adam, Jon and Richard not to acknowledge Coca Cola's disgraceful ethical record in their letter - were they hoping we wouldn't notice?

Sorry, not good enough. Goodbye.

I've said it all here - I was right to walk out on Richard Reed in November 2007, and I wouldn't even enter the room now:

http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2009/04/12/innocent-drinks-a-very-predictable-sell-out/

disappointing. I am sure it makes business sense, but did you consider asking your customers for feedback before you sold the share? judging by the comments here, it would have been a good idea as the backlash to the loss of 'Innocence' seems to be potentially large.

To help anyone kicking the not-so-Innocent habit, Morrisons now stocking an alternative Pomegranate, Blueberry and Acia smoothie for just £1.39 for a big carton. Little sweeter than Innocent, but perfectly tasty (especially at that price) and majority of ingredients are not-from-concentrate. Even has a fraction more fibre and a tiny amount less fat and carbs than Innocent. Doesn't claim to be ethical, but then again, who can you trust these days? ;)

You just lost another customer for all the reasons put some wonderfully by other posters.

Stop this now. Give the money back - if you can!

Total sell out - Im so upset.

What about other investors - Co Op Bank for one thing?

Youve just lost another customer.

This news saddens me greatly. I boycotted Coke and its related products long ago for so many reasons. Now you've sold out to the worst possible company I'm forced to give up the one item left on our supermarket shelves that gave me some hope that the small time people can make it... and keep me healthy. So long Innocent ... it was fun while it lasted :(

<a href="http://artofconversation.typepad.com/">http://artofconversation.typepad.com/</a>
I think I am in a minority here, but I am cautiously optimistic and in favour of the deal IF it means innocent do continue with their 'mission'. Why does ethical have to mean small-scale? Surely innocent is in business and so must play the business game, but that does not mean compromising on principles. From the comments here, plenty of people are hurt or disappointed but there are also some quiet little supportive posts. Keep up the good work, PLEASE, still-innocent people ...

Hello Innocent...

Well as one of your employees knows already from a little Honduras trip I took not to long ago...i trully do LOVE innocent (in particular your little knitted hats - genious)...anyhow to the point...I know how hard you guys work etc, so I'm sure this was no easy decision to make...OK so people are saying their bit now but that will pass...people seem very concentrated on the effect coke will have on innocent, but not on the effect innocent will have on coke...I don't think this will be a one way thing at any rate...

Anyway to say the least...I still love innocent...always have, always will do...keep it up!

Tess

i think that innocent won't be the same again.

I won't buy smoothies again, or the orange juice. Instead
i'll buy tropicana (it's 20p more but more innocent now.)

coke has got e numbers in it and innocent were against all this.

you have lost your own identity forever, innocent - and a customer!

The truth is out there about Coca Cola. Just to go www.markthomasinfo.com/. I presume you will be changing the web page to "our former ethics". You are in denial on this.

I am so shocked at this. I will not be buying your products again.

I hope that you are paying attention to how many people are stating this, and will feel this loss. I have avoided Coke for most of my life, and it sickens me when they are able to reach areas such as innocent. innocent no longer.

I would like to say that Innocent Smoothies are fantastic. But there is no way i can buy any more now that coca-cola has a share of the company. I will be boycotting the Innocent until this deal is reversed, and should that day never come, then I'll never buy another one. An ethical company should never sell out to a multi-national, and Coca-Cola is one of the worste out there, so PLEASE, do all you can to reverse this poorly conceived decision

Many readers here might have particularly liked Innocent because of the charity angle. It always gives you a warm feeling to think some of the money you spend is going to a good cause.

With some of the money Innocent make now going to a very bad cause, many might be considering the only real option open to a consumer - boycotting the product.

However, some may be feeling a bit conflicted because other smoothies don't donate to charity.

Here's the simple answer. Buy an alternative smoothie. Chances are it will cost half as much as an Innocent.

Innocent used to donate 10 per cent of its PROFIT to charity. I don't know the exact figure for how much profit it made per item, but I've seen estimates of profit as low as 5p or 10p per bottle, which would mean between quarter and half a pence donated to charity. Let's imagine a crazy world where they make a £1 profit per bottle sold. That would mean 5p to charity per bottle.

So, buy your alternative and out of the money you save by not paying Innocent prices, donate at least 5p to charity (why not be more generous than Innocent and go up to a whole 10p?!). You can either do this by putting it straight into the collection tin most supermarkets have at the checkouts, or jangled by collectors at the door. Or you can save it up in a jar over the months and make one big donation every few months.

If you're worried about your alternative smoothies not having the sustainable/ethical credentials Innocent claim for theirs - just make your donation to a Fair Trade or ethical growers charity/organisation.

So boycott Innocent, save money for yourself, still give (probably more) to charity and still have your smoothie and drink it!

I am guessing that a lot of the employees of Innocent, some of whom working for decidedly un-innocent wages, would not have chosen to work for Coke, but are now in the compromising position of being apologists for a decision they didn't make. I'm sure they have been given the company line to regurgitate, no doubt in a Monday Morning Meeting full of the usual rhetoric, but on the back of the recent redundancies (where employees had to compete against friends and colleagues for their own job, how innocent) I don't imagine many of them are going to feel they can rock the boat and speak against the cult, I mean company, line.

What's scary is that founders really do believe their own hype. It's a case of the Emperor's New Clothes - they think this is a good thing and that Innocent can tame Coke and that their plan for world domination is somehow driven by altruism... everyone else can see this is about good old fashioned capitalist greed.
The arrogance is vulgar and couldn't be less in touch with their 'fanbase'.

I write as someone who is married to an Innocent employee - who has been made to feel quite unhappy by the lack of Innocence she has experienced as an employee in Fruit Towers. I shall not be leaving my real name, as I don't really trust the Innocent management machine.

Please don't buy any more innocent products, do not condone this decision, it is patronising and dishonest.

Apologies - maths never my strong point. Post above should read 10p to charity if Innocent make £1 profit a bottle! (and double all the other pence references!)

I have always supported Innocent, because I thought you were a fine example of how you can be successful in a multi-national market, without having to indulge in the negative practices that large corporations decide to. But now that has all changed. I understand that you think you are doing the right thing any business would want to increase their success, but I thought innocent were able to do it without the "The Man", I was wrong.
I can not convey in this small space how utterly heartbroken I was to hear the news. I believed that you guys held the same ethics as myself and were able to run a hugely successful business without relenting on them. However, it turns out you just like all the others. I will no longer buy Innocent, I can't possibly purchase a product knowing that in doing so I would be supporting corporate globalisation.
I am truly saddened by your decision and hope that you can continue to trade ethically and fairly. But none of it will mean anything, will it – because Coke don’t share your views on social matters and 10% of your profits will got to them. It’s such a contradiction, I can hardly bare it.

Peace.

Im perfectly sure that it is a very solid business decision based on sound commercial advice. Im also perfectly sure that 'your message' is now dead. Im not surprised, just sad!

Guess your ethics statement sounds a bit like a Miss World contestant after all.

So long and thanks for all the fruit.

It just seems a shame :(

Honestly guys who the heck was advising you? Coke? Of all the companies on the entire planet you chose Coke? With their reputation and history! Most of how I feel and want to say has already been said on this message board. I just can't beleive that you did not consider a bond issue to your, once loyal, customer base. I would have invested. If only you had asked. What on earth were you thinking? Yes Innocent Smoothies taste good but how can I continue buying them knowing you are associated with Coke? Answer me that.Is this years Inncoent Christmas present going to be a can of Coke?
Don't bother with the Fete.

Hi there,

I feel duped and incredibly disappointed. Like many of your other writers, I have championed Innocent as a company who's ethics and morals reflect mine and that are difficult to come by in a World where greed and money supersede sustainability and human rights. That said, Innocent marketed their products brilliantly. I did not look too far in to their dealings or practices, believing instead in their image and giving them more credence than it appears they were deserving. This has come as a shock and dissapointment. I do not consider myself a 'hippy' or 'tree-hugger'as infered by some other bloggers but do like to try and make decisions regarding how I approach the world and how my actions will impact on others. I believed in Innocent and that this was their approach too.
The investment by Coca-Cola, a hulking, profit-driven, multinational corporation, will undoubtedly bolster the expansion of Innocent and this appears to be the outcome that Innocent desired. Congratulations. It is a shame that there are so many supporters of the brand who have been taken along for the ride. It appears that expansion and increased profits are truly the ideals of Innocent, the apparent reasoning of 'spreading the word' of fair-trade and ethical practices that has been used is farsical.
This has been a big mistake.
I have written to Innocent before, stating how much I like their company and their products. I am on their mailing list and received information about attending their AGM or taking part in product tasting this year. This move illustrates that Innocent do not listen to their customers and the only sound they really hear is that of money filling up their accounts. Granted, every company aims to make money, but Innocent was apparently established to make money fairly and in an ethical manner and was branded as such. This is a betrayal of all those who have supported Innocent and helped make it what it had been up until this deal was brokered. I feel a change of name and marketing is required, perhaps "Gotcha".

So sad. I imagine this is exactly how a cheated spouse feels. You have lost me as a fan.

minus one lovemark :(

In my comprehensive study of 6 people who were permanently glugging innocent products, none of them now buy your stuff! There are plenty of equivalent products on the market that are not pretending to be something they are not. The sad thing is coca cola will still be drunk by the gallon load. Innocent smoothies, alas, will not.

Absolute disbelief that Innocent has sold its soul... So very sad.

I truely believe that although you may attain the global recognition you so desire, in a world full of consumers that really don't give a monkeys, you will all lose sleep at night over this.

So long Innocent...

You have lost your innocence, and my custom.

Leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The green marketing machine at Coke is making overhours. Bying springs and other water sources to safeguard their business and wash it green in innocence.

Trade Unionists have been assasinated in Coca Cola bottling plants in Colombia. That is an example of the kind of pressure that Coke exerts to ensure that it gets its way in developing countries. I assume that is that the type of support that Innocent is looking for to help it expand? I no longer have any respect for your brand. Not only will I not be buying any of your products, I will be doing my utmost to discredit your brand far and wide, including, if possible, a protest at your forthcoming "village fete". How can you possibly now market yourselves as "innocent" with any ounce of integrity?

Dear All,

I am someone who did like to go along with the story that they created. I went to the AGM, and to the Village Fete (despite having food poisoning) and so, yes, I am a little disappointed by the news that they went with Coca-Cola as a minority investor, and quit the story so soon. At least it wasn't Nestlé, Muller or Birds Angel Delight (another not so innocent brand with its hydrogenated vegetable oil ingredients) all of which were, to my mind, worse companies in the ethics stakes.

[QUOTE]Innocent were a marketing company... they [have] been much more interested in selling juices than making them. [/UNQUOTE]

From a business point of view, I worked in Retail Design, and my boss was always saying that Innocent is a Brand Marketing company, and a very successful one. And he's right.

Cracking a new market like the whole of Europe is certainly going to be difficult and cutting costs with distribution is a key factor. One must grow to become successful, and big is a requisite to floatation or sale and nice early retirement. This is something I wouldn’t mind myself.

Plus they have had some real hammering from Pepsi lately pushing their Tropicana brand big time on the adverts. So they need a cash injection. I must admit I'm surprised they've played this hand so quick, and with Coke, but it would've happened at some point soon.

I think that unfortunately things have to be done in the way that the world does them for a company to survive, which isn't a happy innocent way, and 20% not so good is sometimes better than 75% unknown. Perhaps Coke will go into recycled bottles and more healthy ingredients in the future.

I'm not going to stop buying the Innocent smoothies (Still yet to get hold of a Veg Pot). Tropicana (Pepsi) is the only other similar tasting brand so no difference there, and it's not like Coke owns Innocent yet. It took Cadbury a while to take over Green & Blacks.

For those who say that they are not disillusioned and will never by Innocent products again, the may I point out that the Due Diligence would have had a balance of customers lost versus those gained. Trust me. Having worked in Second Life under the quasi-nonsensical corporate heavy-handling of it’s owner Linden Labs we did work out that the recent massive 66% hike in prices was cleverly balanced so that any losses were covered by the increased fees or savings from infrastructure costs due to abandoned servers. So I am pretty positive that Innocent will not lose out from those customers who feel jilted and stop buying products.

So to sum up my thoughts:

We shouldn't be surprised at this.
We are a little disappointed though.
We hope something good will rub off on Coca Cola and things don’t change too much too soon.

One extra question though is what return *do* Coke get? That wasn't really made clear to my mind.
Since I'm looking for investment myself for a food product idea, I'd be interested in knowing purely from a personal point of view what return Coca Cola are expecting for their nice injection of cash.

Yours, Jake.
(the Man in the Hat)

Hi, i think most people are over reacting it clearly said in the article that coke will have hardleys any input on innocent, its not going to change innocents veiws or products, it will just help them to continue to make great drinks. I can understand why people would no longer buy innocents products if they started adding sugar to their drinks, or started to not fairly producing their products, but don't you think you should give innocent and coke a chance?

WELL DONE PEOPLE AT INNOCENT A GREAT DECISION. COCA COLA IS A GREAT COMPANY THAT DOES MORE GOOD THAN HARM

PEOPLE HERE COMPLAINING ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO PROTEST FOR THE SAKE OF IT. THANKFULLY THEY ARE A MINORITY SO YOUR BRAND WILL FLOURISH TO BECOME THE BIGGEST AND BEST

The brand may well flourish, but it's already lost part of what made it different.

'innocent' seems on the path to being just another profit driven corporation. I hope 'innocent' will return to placing ethics at the core of its business, rather than merely presenting an ethical fascade as a marketing ploy.

there are a lot of ways to gain investment for your baby without getting into bed with the devil. social enterprise and all that. and, more to the point why bigger bigger bigger more more more? greed greed greed ...

sorry but you must think we are incredibly 'innocent' to fall for this 'it will only make us better' nonsense.

maybe you should speak to the families of the workers who were murdered by paramilitaries and then see how fluffy your deal is.

coke are using you to greenwash their evil beast and you have rolled over and let them do it to you.

you have sold out and innocent is now no longer a viable buy for anyone with an ethical bone in their body. bye bye innocent, you'll not get a penny more from me.

Very disappointed in this - I won't be buying Innocent smoothies again. It's becoming night on impossible to buy a soft drink that wasn't made or financed by Coca Cola Corp or Pepsi, but frankly I'd sooner drink blood than pay money to Coca Cola Corp - it'd amount to the same thing anyway, as CCC have blood on their hands in Colombia.

Hi Richard,

Just read about your £30M Coca Cola investment and am really sorry to say I now won't be buying any more of your smoothies on principal. I don't want any association with your minority business partner (it reminds me of when The Body Shop sold out to L'Oreal).

Innocence is a term used to indicate a state of moral purity or general lack of guilt - something clearly Coca Cola do not have. Sorry I believe this is a big mistake you've big made.

Just a quick comment to say thank you to everyone for posting their comments. We appreciate people taking the time to share their views; we've read every single one.

We knew it was important for us to be transparent about the Coke investment, because we suspected some people would have strong views. That is why we announced the deal on the front page of the website the day it happened, and why we posted about it on our blog, sent it out in our newsletter, told the media and answered their questions, responded to all the emails we got sent, posted a FAQ section on the site answering questions raised by our drinkers, and hosted an AGM where people could ask about the deal and then filmed the results, which are on this site.

Hopefully the majority of people feel that we have been open about the deal. To those that think we should have done more, we apologise. We've done what we can and we have to balance the time spent on explaining our business decisions with the fact that we've got to get on with running the business and making our smoothies. As such, this is going to be our last post on the subject for now, unless anything material changes.

It's worth reiterating that the promises we have made about innocent (to make only natural, healthy food; to push for more sustainable ingredients and production techniques; to donate more to charity) will not change with this deal. In fact, we will do them more.

And for those people still unhappy/unsure about us doing the deal, could we ask you to maybe (temporarily) reserve judgement. Check back in a year's time to see if we've changed for the worst or whether we're continuing to do the things we've always promised to do. You may be pleasantly surprised.


Thanks.

I see.

So you've answered the questions by not answering them and now are refusung to enter into any further discussion on the matter.

Interesting way to do business.

Straight out of the Coca Cola way to business.

I utterly agree with the vast majority of these posts. Surely you knew you would get this reaction from your loyal UK customers? What must you be thinking reading all of these?

I feel let down and don't believe in innocent as a brand any more. Your cheery on-pack wording now makes me feel like I'm being duped, rather than connected with.

You've lost another two customers here.

Very sad.

You've lost me as a customer, I won't support coke either directly or by the back door.

Innocent - not any more, guilty more like, guilty of signing your business up with a corporation that ignores Murder of its workers who are trade union members - shame on your company! No more smoothies for me - try as hard as you might with your corporate smooth talkers in the USA to change people's minds on the subject but I am afraid you are on a loser! - What genuine shame - I really thought you were innovative, funny ethical people, but you are greedy just like the rest of those at the top in our country greedy politicians, greedy un ethical big business - what a shame for us ordinary people who had faith in your brand and concept of a positive and humerous healthy product.

"And for those people still unhappy/unsure about us doing the deal, could we ask you to maybe (temporarily) reserve judgement. Check back in a year's time to see if we've changed for the worst or whether we're continuing to do the things we've always promised to do. You may be pleasantly surprised."

It's exasperating how simplistic you are being. Ethical business is complex and difficult, you are pretending it isn't which seriously damages the whole landscape for other ethical businesses, or people who want to be.

Even if you are still talking in the innocent way next year, even if your mangoes are still rainforest certified and even if you are still giving to your charity (which I assume will depend on profits) you are not ethical because you are doing it with Coke's money..

It's like if a free-range food company were being funded by the fur trade. It is hypocritical and unethical, and your simplistic approach is either very devious or completely unintelligent. Maybe both.

Just wanted to say I have not forgotten and have not bought any smoothies since April.

Sigh,
How thoroughly disappointing.
'play nice' shelve your believes when you realize you care more about more and more money.

Nice post...Good to see, thanks for sharing...

This is rediculus, they've done it so they have more resources and more ways to transport there product. the smoothies are still the same they're just making it so all you guys can get an innocent smoothie anywhere in the world. grow up and enjoy the drink!

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