Boycott Coca-Cola

Boycott Coca-Cola and make money for the victims of Coca-Cola. How much can we make?

That depends on three key factors:

1. The number of people who stop drinking Coke Since calling for a worldwide boycott of Coca-Cola in last month's Ecologist, KarmaBanQue has registered a 160 per cent increase in Coca-Cola boycotters. And the good news doesn't stop there…

Farmers revolt

One thriving farmers' market in Pennsylvania was recently offered a $20,000 sponsorship deal by Coca-Cola. Armed with a copy of last month's Ecologist, one of the market's organisers convinced its coordinating committee to reject the company's offer. Student protest So far nine colleges and universities, six in the US and three in Ireland, have banned Coke from their campuses. New York University will vote on a ban this month. Following a public debate between Coke and Leeds University students, the latter said: '[Coca-Cola] formed no coherent defence to the allegations of crimes in Colombia, or to the allegations of violating the UN millennium development goals by the pollution and use of water in India. With a crowd of 300 [present], Coke had to leave with their tail between their legs.' A resolution was passed that the students hope will lead to the removal of Coke from Leeds University property. In November around 100 University of Montana students and faculty members along with local activists marched into the office of the university's president, chanting 'kill the Coke contract'.

Union action

The large US unions that have called for a boycott of Coke products include the Service Employees International Union, the AFL-CIO, the American Postal Workers Union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the California Federation of Teachers. The Communications Workers of America and the American Postal Workers Union have also passed resolutions supporting a boycott and divestment campaign targeting Coke's chief financial ally, Suntrust Banks. On this side of the Atlantic, Unison, the largest union in the UK, and the Northern Ireland Public Service Association, the largest union in Northern Ireland, have both called for boycotts.

2. Coca-Cola's share price falling

Since we first flagged up Coca-Cola's vulnerability to a boycott in the August 2004 Ecologist, Coke's share price has fallen from $51 to $41. Given the numbers joining Coca-Cola boycotts across the world, there is no reason why we can't take the company's share price down to $22. 3. The amount of money selling Coca-Cola short For example, if we'd set up a £500,000 fund selling Coke in August 2004, it would have made £98,000 to date. (The company's share price has fallen by 19.6 per cent; multiply that by £500,000 and you get £98,000.) With the 2 per cent standard handling fees subtracted, this would have meant £96,040 would now be going to support the campaigns and victims of Coca-Cola. And to think all you had to do was not spend money on Coca-Cola. That's what we mean by 'smart boycotts'.


Why target Coca-Cola? Besides human rights violations, health concerns, theft of water from the world's poorest farmers and groundwater pollution, the time is right. Why is the time right? Coke's share price is currently $41. The company has sales of $20 billion a year and a market capitalisation of $100 billion. This means that for every one of us who doesn't drink a 50 pence can of Coke, the company's shareholders will lose £2.50. That makes Coca-Cola very vulnerable to a boycott.

So What do we do? First, stop drinking Coke. Second, register your Coca-Cola boycott at, and get as many of your friends and family to do the same. And What will KarmaBanQue do? Make money out of your registered boycotts for the victims of Coca-Cola, and fund further campaigns against Coke. What do you mean 'make money' from the boycott? By selling short Coca-Cola shares in the market, KarmaBanQue will use the markets to make money as the company's share price falls. What assurances can you give that my boycott effort will make money for those who deserve it and not financial fat cats? The Ecologist will be auditing the whole process and ensuring the money made by KarmaBanQue from the fall in Coke's share price is sent to those who are campaigning against Coke or are the victims of its greed and power. Spread-betting activism For those readers of The Ecologist who want to put their money where their mouths are, why not sell Coke shares short through one of the reputable spread betting firms, such as IG Index, Tradindex or CityIndex? You will then have an added incentive to convince your family and friends not to buy Coca-Cola. Or why not get a syndicate together? All your syndicate's members can put in money, short-sell Coke and then use their powers of persuasion in your local community to get others to boycott Coke, too. As the pressure mounts on Coke's share price it will continue to fall, making money for the syndicate and, if you're feeling generous, the victims of Coca-Cola, too.

If you aren't familiar with spread betting, log on to and click on the 'try before you buy' icon. Then register for a 'player' account and you will be allocated £20,000 in virtual money to bet with. To sell Coca-Cola short, click first on 'stock indices' and then the US flag icon. Then select 'Coca-Cola', and by clicking on the sell button you will have 'virtually' sold short the company's stock. Trading opens for US shares at 14.30 GMT. You can then keep track of your position each day by logging back in and seeing how your account is moving.

Max Keiser, founder of investment activism website KarmaBanQue, provides his monthly guide to consumer boycotts

This article first appeared in the Ecologist February 2005