Simon checks Colalifesaving pods on the front line

I’ve written before about Simon Berry’s extraordinarily effective Colalife campaign using social media to encourage and persuade Coca Cola to use their distribution system to get simple medicines to children in Africa. Simon has used Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, blogsand the BBC – to recruit support, engage Coca Cola, get to understand how their system works, and then receive an invitation to Dar Es Salaam. The trip was partly to join a 2-day stakeholder meeting about research into wider use of the distribution system.

The trip has also provided Simon with the chance to find out at first hand what the people who handle distribution think of the idea. This is important, because Coca Cola works through local small distributors – so their support will be crucial.

Simon has been giving us regular reports via Twitter, and now with a blog post including video of a Simon chatting among the crates with distribution workers. One of the big issues is what shape the Colalife medicine pods should be, and whether they could be recycled.

Earlier today I was at Amplified08, where web developers and all sorts of creative types were gathered to discuss – among other things – how social media amplifies conversations and changes the way we can do business, socialise and influence. It can sound a bit abstract … until you look at what Simon and friends are achieving. I’m glad I can join the conversation … do drop Simon an encouraging comment over here.

The first 15 seconds of the video is in Swahili, and then audio isn’t great, so here from Simon’s blog is a quote/paraphrase:

When Benito breaks into English, his comments are very encouraging and practical. Here is a quote/paraphrase as some of it is hard to hear:

‘It’s a good idea, especially in Africa, the distribution of this medicine is very difficult. But the soda is being distributed very aggressively – it’s going to a lot of places… by doing this Coca-Cola will be doing Social Responsibility…. For me, this is a good idea (indicates the triangular package).. but to remove one bottle, this is a problem. Many people think ‘my sales are being reduced.. they are reducing my sales.’ ….

Benito thinks the pakage would need to be waterproof, because of the rain. But it should be disposable. It will be too difficult to have it returned to the depot, but it would have to be made in plastic.

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