Coca-Cola breaks with tradition with new white cans

Coca-Cola is going white this holiday season.

After 125 years of identifying the iconic brand with red, the Atlanta-based company will begin next month stocking 1.4 billion cans featuring a family of polar bears -- a mom and two cubs -- against a white and gray background of sky and snow. The brand's famous red script will run across the can's top.

The change, which runs through March, is part of Coke's partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to preserve habitats for polar bears, Coke's holidays mascot since 1922,  in Canada and Greenland. The beverage giant also will donate $2 million to the preservation effort and ask Coke fans to donate $1 to the WWF for the cause. Coke will match every dollar donated up to $1 million.

"We are real excited to hear what people have to say about these new cans," said Katie Bayne, president and general manager of the sparkling division for Coke North America. "It's really one of the biggest holiday platforms that we have ever put into the marketplace."

The move comes as the company slides into one of its biggest advertising seasons of the year -- the holidays -- and gives it an opportunity to mix goodwill with business.

"The Arctic Home campaign has big potential," said John Sicher, publisher and editor of Beverage-Digest. "It is dramatic, in that Coke is changing the color of its cans, and impactful packaging is an important marketing tool in the beverage business. Plus the campaign supports a worthy cause, making people feel good about the brand."

Suzanne Apple, the WWF's vice president of business and industry, said Coke's support gives the group exposure it could never generate on its own.

"We don't have the ability to reach the kind of customer Coke can," she said. "That is absolutely the magic of this partnership."