Coca-Cola has apologized to an Edmonton family after an unacceptable message was found underneath the cap of one of its drinks.
Blake Loates was shocked to find the words "YOU RETARD" printed inside the cap of a Vitamin Water bottle while out for dinner with her husband Tuesday night.
"We immediately thought 'You have got to be kidding me,'" she told the Huffington Post Alberta.
"We thought it might have been a disgruntled employee or someone in a (bottling) plant playing a joke."
Her father, Doug, was equally shocked at the message, considering his younger daughter Fiona has cerebral palsy and autism.
"My dad had taught our family what an awful word the 'r-word' is. So he was really upset about this."
Doug, who lives in Washington state, stayed up all night penning a letter to Coke.
"You see,the "R" word is considered a swear word in our family. We don't use it. We don't tolerate others using it around us. We ARE over-sensitive but you would be too if you had Fiona for a daughter!"
Read Doug Loate's full letter to Coca-Cola. Story continues below
Blake says Coke contacted her family Wednesday to explain the bottle cap is part of a contest being held by Vitamin Water where they randomly print one English word and one French word on their caps.
“We did not mean to offend at all,” Shannon Denny, director of brand communications for Coca-Cola Refreshment Canada, told Metro Calgary. “We are certainly very apologetic for this oversight.”
“When you look at the same word in English, it takes an offensive connotation,” Denny explained.
Retard in French translates to "late" or "delayed."
"Coke told us they reviewed the words before the contest, so we're still a bit confused about why, after sitting down and looking at the word list, they would decide to keep it. It's English meaning is offensive and they should have realized that," said Blake.
The company, however, is working to make things right. Blake was told Coke plans to suspend the promotion and that all the remaining caps have been destroyed.
She was also told Coca-Cola will recall any remaining related products.
"Our family feels like the 'Little Engine That Could,'" said Blake, adding a photo posted to her Facebook page of the bottle cap has gone viral with hundreds of shares and messages of support.
"We're just really glad we're getting a chance to let people know how hurtful the 'r-word' is."
Also on HuffPost:
The Straits Times Curses Followers
On April 2, a staffer for Singapore-based news outlet <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/stcom" target="_hplink">The Straits Times</a> posted an offensive tweet on the company's feed. "I'd like to apologise unreservedly on behalf of our staff member. He mixed up his personal and corporate accounts," social media editor <a href="http://twitter.com/NgTzeYong" target="_hplink">Ng Tze Yong</a> tweeted, after the offending post had been deleted. [hat tip Christine L.]
Chrysler Tweeter Drops F-Bomb
In early March, a NSFW tweet found its way onto the <a href="http://twitter.com/ChryslerAutos" target="_hplink">Chrysler Autos</a> feed. "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive," read the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/09/chrysler-twitter-account-_n_833571.html" target="_hplink">errant tweet</a>, which was promptly removed. New Media Strategies, a social media agency in charge of the feed, took the fall for the ensuing controversy and fired the employee who managed Chrysler's tweets. Not long after, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/10/chrysler-twitter-f-bomb-tweet_n_834246.html" target="_hplink">AP</a> reported that Chrysler had ended its relationship with New Media Strategies.
Kenneth Cole Misuses #Cairo Hashtag
The Twitterverse recently turned against fashion designer <a href="http://twitter.com/KennethCole" target="_hplink">Kenneth Cole</a> after his official Twitter feed apparently misused the hashtag #Cairo to promote Cole's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/03/kenneth-cole-tweet-uses-c_n_818226.html?ir=Technology" target="_hplink">spring clothing line</a>. At the time, Cairo was a trending topic on Twitter due to protests in Egypt. Cole soon deleted the tweet and apologized, calling the incident "poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate."
The Red Cross Gets 'Slizzerd'
In February, the <a href="http://twitter.com/RedCross" target="_hplink">Red Cross</a>'s social media specialist <a href="http://twitter.com/riaglo" target="_hplink">Gloria Huang</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/red-cross-rogue-tweet_n_824114.html" target="_hplink">mistakenly posted a personal tweet</a> on the company's feed. "We've deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we've confiscated the keys," an explanatory Red Cross tweet said. <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/dogfishbeer" target="_hplink">Dogfish Head</a> retweeted the "gettingslizzerd" hashtag and encouraged customers to donate to the Red Cross.
Marc Jacobs Intern Allegedly Flips
Someone claiming to be an intern for <a href="http://twitter.com/marcjacobsintl" target="_hplink">Marc Jacobs</a> CEO Robert Duffy recently posted a rant on the company's official feed. The <em><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1370024/Marc-Jacobs-intern-brands-company-CEO-tyrant-meltdown-fashion-labels-Twitter-account.html" target="_hplink">Daily Mail</a></em> reprinted some of the tweets. "You guys and gals have no idea how difficult Robert is. I am only an intern. My last day is tomorrow. I wouldn't be tweeting this if not!" one read. "Good luck! I pray for you all. If you get the job! I'm out of here. See ya! Son't want to be ya! Roberts a tyrant! Seriously! He is tough!" read another. The tweets were deleted and the incident was blamed on a stolen password.
Bing's Japan Tweet Sparks Controversy
Shortly after the Japan tsunami, search engine <a href="http://www.twitter.com/bing" target="_hplink">Bing</a> posted a tweet that promised a dollar for every retweet from followers. Tweeters <a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/bing-tries-to-help-japan-on-twitter-walks-into-a-pr-nightmare_b4455" target="_hplink">bristled</a> at the post, which was generally viewed as more of a marketing strategy than a charitable gesture, and Bing eventually backpedaled. "We apologize the tweet was negatively perceived. Intent was to provide an easy way for people to help Japan. We have donated $100K," <a href="http://twitter.com/bing/status/46698091604226048" target="_hplink">wrote</a> Bing.
Habitat Intern Spams Hastag Feeds With Brand Promos
Back in 2009, UK furnishings retailer <a href="http://twitter.com/habitatuk" target="_hplink">Habitat</a> allegedly spammed popular hastag feeds with tweets promoting the brand. Habitat later apologized and blamed an "<a href="http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/915903/Habitat-blames-Twitter-faux-pas-intern/" target="_hplink">overenthusiastic intern</a>" for inserting "#mousavi" (a 2009 Iranian presidential candidate) and "#iphone" into their promos.
Vodafone UK's Profane Tweet
In November 2010, the following tweet appeared on <a href="http://go.telegraph.co.uk/?id=296X467&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fvodafoneuk" target="_hplink">Vodafone UK</a>'s feed: "VodafoneUK is fed up of dirty homo's and is going after beaver." Customers were incensed, and some assumed that the account had been hacked. Vodafone admitted, however, that an employee had written the tweet. "An individual posted an obscene remark on the Vodafone UK Twitter account [...] The individual has been suspended pending further notice," read an apology issued by the company, according to <em><a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/feb/05/vodafone-twitter-obscene-tweet" target="_hplink">The Guardian</a></em>.
Before we meet, let me offend everyone....
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Craig_Isaacs"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Craig_Isaacs">Craig Isaacs</a>:<br />Mr. Andrews of Ketchum decides to offend FedEx worldwide through Twitter...right before he meets their marketing team to demonstrate Twitter.
Sony PR Rep: "you sank my Battleship?". No, sir, you skuttled it.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/strydre"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/strydre">strydre</a>:<br />While simultaneously prosecuting a hacker for making full use of his PS3 and defending itself in a case of feature removal, Sony PR rep tweets the cryptographic key needed to (re)unlock the PS3's potential.