It's the second strike against Coca-Cola in under a week. Not only did the company play a likely role in dissuading the Grand Canyon from banning disposable plastic water bottles in the park, but it has also been pressuring American Idol to dissociate itself from a Plastic Pollution Coalition message featuring 11 Idol finalists speaking out against disposable plastics.
Forbes reports that the public service announcement had just started to get some traction—a mention by USA Today, some teen pop blogs, and about 5,000 views on YouTube—when the news broke that the show had been "pressured by a sponsor to have the PSA and any association with it removed."
The Forbes story reports the following conversation:
“One of the show’s sponsors was very angry at seeing the piece and demanded that the show have it removed,” says Plastic Pollution Coalition executive director Daniella Russo. “When I asked if the sponsor in question was Coca-Cola, they said, ‘You didn’t hear it from us.’ But even before all of this we were told that the PSA could only launch after the American Idol concert tour because Coca-Cola was a sponsor and might get upset.”
It gets worse. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition:
Shortly after the PSA was posted online, we received a letter from [American Idol production company] 19 Entertainment’s parent company, demanding that we pull the PSA down. The stated reason was that we did not have appropriate permissions. We were threatened that if we did not comply by pulling the PSA down, they would contact You Tube directly and our YouTube channel may be shut down.
The coalition refused to take down the PSA, which it says was an eight-month collaboration between the coalition, 19 Entertainment management, and all of the season's Top 11 finalists. The coalition says, "We sought and have obtained written approvals to launch the PSA. In fact, Haley’s Wish was recorded by 19 Entertainment themselves."
Forbes quotes Russo again, refuting any legal claims: “This is not a matter of us not obtaining permissions,” she says. “It is a matter of withdrawing permissions, AFTER a major sponsor was upset.”