Warren Buffett on a can of Coke?
Oh, why not.
The Chinese are apparently gaga over Buffet, and investors throughout the country try to emulate his tactics, if not his relatively austere lifestyle and philanthropic bent.
I like to hoist a Coke every once in a while, and I did have a brief period when I rather favored vanilla Coke, but I’m not a fan of flavored colas. Anyway, Cherry Coke was introduced to China last month, and the limited-edition Buffet cans are part of the promotion.
It may seem odd to use someone who’s never been a movie star, athlete, or rocker; or even some celeb famous for being famous – and an old geezer to boot – to shill for a consumer product. But in this case, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holds a major stake in Coca-Cola (9.3%). Plus:
He’s also a heavy user of the product: Buffett has said that he drinks about five cans of Coke per day, and he’s frequently seen sipping the beverage at public events…(Source: Bloomberg)
And he’s stated:
“I have not seen evidence that convinces me that it’ll be more likely I reach 100 if I suddenly switched to water and broccoli,” Buffett said.
So there, Michael Bloomberg!
I wouldn’t advocate that anyone start drinking five cans of Coke a day. I was at one point a couple-a-day Diet Coke drinker. That was until the day my heart started racing as I began downing a third in a row. Since then, I ration myself.
But if Walt Whitman can shill for Volvo, a product that I can say with pretty high certitude that he never rode or invested in, surely Warren Buffett can be used to promote a product he owns and loves.
It does remind me of the ad that Nobel economist (text-book author and MIT professor) Paul Samuelson did decades ago for Allied Van Lines. My first reaction to the ad was “what was Allied Van Lines thinking?” Unless you took an economics course, Paul Samuelson wasn’t exactly a household figure. Were there 10 people planning a move in 1982 who might have been influenced to go with Allied based on Paul Samuelson’s recommendation? That many?
My second thought was “what was Paul Samuelson thinking?”
As it turns out, when he did the ad he really wasn’t thinking. He ended up giving his fee to charity, and declared:
''I think it's really a demeaning thing for a scientist to be doing. It was an error of judgment on my part.'' (Source NY Times)
We can quibble about equating “economist” with “scientist.” Dismal scientist maybe. But interesting that Samuelson rued the day that he lent his name to Allied Van Lines.
My guess is that Warren Buffett’s getting a kick out of being on a Coke can.
It got me wondering what other famous people have endorsed Coke over the year. The list (actors, athletes, rockers) is too long to convey, but Elvis, Ryan Gosling, and Betty Boop are all on it.. Warren Buffett might be the most offbeat, however. (Okay, other than Betty Boop.)
I did, however, come across someone else with the initials WB who’d promoted Coke. If you’re thinking Warren Beatty: wrong! Or, rather, wrongish. He did down a cool one in Bonnie & Clyde.
No, the earlier WB honors go to one Wallace Beery, and actor popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Somehow, I can’t imagine someone who looked like Wallace Beery getting much ad time today. Maybe in China, but only if he knew how to invest.