Living on Thin Ice: The Observer on Polar Bears' PR Image.


Left photo: Dan Crosbie/Canadian Ice Service/PA Wire. Right Photo: Coca Cola

Simon Garfield writes an interesting article in today's Observer about the increasingly endangered Polar Bear's public profile. Why is it the threatened Polar Bear that has captured the public's imagination and become "the newly helpless emblem of climate change" and a PR dream for environmental activists? As Garfield says, "There is no such thing as an ugly polar bear, and even the less handsome ones appear to have learnt to conceal their claws as they leap the ice floes. Like panting labradors, they always appear to be smiling (no such fillip for the equally threatened but unglamorous walrus)." Garfield points out the strange contradiction between the reality of these powerful and at times dangerous predators and their cartoonish marketing image of cute and cuddly animals.

"Easy to sell, but hard to save. Despite their uncertain fate, you wouldn't mind having their PR account. They look sweet, embraceable even. Those who have run from them on land, or witnessed a savage, ripping kill on an ice floe will have a different perspective 1993, was the year Coca-Cola adopted the animal to spearhead its new global marketing campaign. The Cola Bear reinforced the notion that Coke was best served ice-cold, and it was a drink that spread the love: the bears, who made deep and reassuring guttural noises and never had seal blood on their fur, were represented in family groups playing with penguins and admiring the Aurora Borealis. There was no cuter or more deceptively cuddly anthropomorphism on the tundra - the little ones even wore red scarves - and merchandise followed; keyrings, soft toys, pencil toppers, now quite big on eBay. The only downside for the polar bears was they didn't own their image rights."

You can read the full Observer article here.

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