Investors seemed pleased about the recent partnership between Coca-Cola and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Both companies experienced gains (25% for Green Mountain!) immediately following the announcement. The collaboration, which involves the two companies working together over the next 10 years to produce Coke products in K-Cups and Coca-Cola paying $1.25 billion for a 10% stake in Green Mountain, was met with open arms by shareholders. 

From a Public Relations perspective, the collaboration will certainly give Coke’s brand a boost.  Producing Green Mountain K-cups will substantially reduce the carbon footprint of Coca-Cola, and will also reduce the amount of water it needs to withdraw from communities surrounding its bottling plants (combatting an issue that once attracted negative attention). Since Green Mountain has a reputation of being, well, “green,” this move helps strengthen Coke’s sustainability efforts and gives a nice bump to its brand.   

However, it may not be quite as beneficial for Green Mountain Coffee. When people think about Green Mountain Coffee, they think: organic, fair trade, local, Vermont, gourmet.  Offices around the country purchase Green Mountain K-cups because they trust the brand and love its products.  Coke, however (despite its strong and well-recognized brand), is often associated with words and phrases like sugar-laden, obesity, stereotypical American consumerism, etc. So will Green Mountain Coffee’s fan base begin to question or doubt the company’s values?  

I’m convinced that a strong effort from Green Mountain’s PR team will shape the outcome.  To maintain those loyal fans, it might take some effort to continue to differentiate itself from Coca-Cola.  The finances of this major collaboration are a homerun – let’s hope the importance of PR is not underestimated and both companies are able to grow side by side, while maintaining individuality.