La Stampa, an Italian newspaper, reported that a five-year deal worth 2.1 million Euros (4.18 million dollars) has been struck between Venice, Italy and Coca-Cola. Reportedly there will be 38 vending machines placed across the city especially at vaporetti stops. According to the city council, Coca-Cola is not buying Venice. But La Stampa does not agree saying that the city is “selling itself” to Coca-Cola and that Coke machines will be placed in St. Mark’s Square. ”’Coca-Cola drinks up Venice,” said La Stampa.
Coca-Cola vending machines in St. Mark’s Square? Say it ain’t so. It won’t make much of a photo opp to have a picture of a gondola with a Coke machine in the background or the Bridge of Sighs with the trademark red and white logo visible through the window.
As a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, the home of Coca-Cola and being a long time fan of a cold Coke on a hot day I find it disturbing that Coke is going to have a strong presence in Venice, Italy.
I understand that cities are suffering from the same economic crisis as the rest of us, but a deal between the city of Venice and Coke seems to be a little extreme. Vending machines with Orangina, sparkling water or wine seem more appropriate.
The mayor of Venice says it’s a good business deal. But bar owners and the media are not happy with his plan to install Coca-Cola vending machines in this historic city of gondolas, floods and very expensive coffee. Not to mention a beautiful city of canals, narrow alleys and beautiful palazzi.
Maurizio Calligaro, the council’s chief of staff, insists the 60 vending machines would not be placed on public soil, let alone near landmarks such as St Mark’s. ”Fifteen distributors will be placed on the principal vaporetti landing stages, the others will be inside council car parks and in the limited traffic zone of the mainland. Where’s the invasion?” Calligaro said.
Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari, said ”This is a financial strategy that today is simply indispensable for safeguarding our monuments and artistic heritage and is in line with culture ministry guidelines,” Cacciari said. ”It follows a strategy we’ve adopted with other equally prestigious collaborators – Lancia for the restoration of the Ducal Palace, Swatch for the Biblioteca Marciana, Replay for Ca’ Rezzonico and Bulgari for the Scala d’Oro”. The mayor added that the idea that Venice could be safeguarded ”by philanthropy alone” was unrealistic. The mayor went on to say that the city was spending too much on the Moses project, a controversial plan to prevent the city from sinking. A plan that may or may not work.
The mayor has a point. I don’t like the thought of Coke machines on every corner but in a city where tourists often arrive on large cruise ships and spend only a few hours and a few dollars commercial deals that produce revenue must be considered. Maybe Coke could spend the money trying to convince tourists to stop by a restaurant or café to have a Coke rather than ruin the ambience of a beautiful city with vending machines.
Of course, given the price of Coke in Italy Venice may only need to have the vending machines for a few months before they have enough money to pay to refurbish the whole city.