Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation

Multi-nation-al: Coca-Cola Pitches Itself as National Economic Development

And after global depression, runaway wartime government spending, and postwar currency stabilization, many national governments were adopting import substitution, Keynesian monetary policies, and government planning to stimulate national economies at mid-century. At the same time, many nations of the global south had recently gained independence, and postcolonial nationalisms and leftist struggles identified the continued yoke of multinational corporations’ economic, political, and cultural power which they would soon term “neocolonialism.” Countries countered US economic hegemony by protecting their national markets. Washington pushed to pry open these markets, and some US multinationals explored models of foreign direct investment and externalization to justify their business ventures as multinational developmentalism, while maintaining both control and profits.45

Throughout the 1950s, Coca-Cola executives stressed that its bottlers were “local, independent” businesses; “everywhere you find Coke, you find it is a local enterprise,” Coca-Cola’s president H. B. Nicholson claimed in 1953.46 This became all the more imperative as Coca-Cola’s international business grew rapidly and governments questioned the desirability of allowing a giant multinational to monopolize production of nonessential consumer goods. When calls for government intervention in the market or expressions of economic nationalism resulted, Coca-Cola was depicted as a national industry—Philippine, Egyptian, or Colombian, not American. 

The Coca-Cola Company thus justified its drive for global growth with claims that its franchises simultaneously benefited from the business strategy, technological experience, and marketing power of the multinational corporation, on the one hand, but also hired local workers, purchased local goods and services, and embedded themselves in the local business community, on the other...

While The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers had regularly emphasized the social justification of the transnational enterprise by identifying its drinks as products of local franchises, the developmentalism of the logic was made more direct when countries considered protectionist policies...


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