Are Coca-Cola Employees Really Forbidden From Drinking Pepsi?

We know there is nothing unnatural in competition between brands, but when we talk about "legendary rivalry," only a few can match the cut-throat and relentless battle between Coca-Cola and Pepsi that predates the 20th century. The rivalry really heated up in 1975 when Pepsi got a bit too personal and released the "Pepsi Challenge" commercial campaign, which showed participants taking the blind taste test and preferring Pepsi over Coca-Cola, per History. Coca-Cola didn't take it lightly.

Although Coca-Cola has some products that were massive fails and Pepsi also had to pull several disastrous products from the market unceremoniously, both brands have grown into powerhouses with unique marketing strategies and a distinct presence. In Q1 of 2022, the market cap of Coca-Cola was $268.4 billion, and PepsiCo had a market cap of $229.3 billion, per Investopedia. The fierce intensity of their iconic rivalry is not subsiding anytime soon, and the consumers have no problem with it as long as they get high-quality, better-tasting products.

Both leading brands in the beverage industry have a massive fan following. Some people are loyal members of the Pepsi team, and others prefer the Coke team. While consumers still have the freedom to choose any beverage brand they'd like, is it the same case when it comes to the employees of Coca-Cola? Has Coca-Cola taken the rivalry to such an extent that they have forbidden their employees from drinking a carbonated soft drink made by Pepsi?  

Drink Pepsi and get sacked

A Coca-Cola employee by the name of Mike Smith responded to a question on Quora about whether an employee of the multinational corporation gulping down Pepsi or any competitors' beverages during working hours could face termination. "Upon being hired you actually sign an agreement stating you will not purchase or consume ANY competitors products or face termination," Smith posted. "To those thinking this answer is sarcasm it is not. This is all 100% true. I used to have a small business card size laminated paper they give at hiring listing the brands you are not allowed to consume due to competition but unfortunately it's been years and I am unable to find it." 

Eat This, Not That! shared that employees must follow several other rules, like they cannot talk to the media and must report each on other. Moreover, there is a strict attendance policy; as one employee posted on Glassdoor, "They have a crazy strict attendance policy. NO sick days without penalty if you don't give them a 48-hr notice. Who knows 48-hr in advance if you are going to have the flu?" But that's just the tip of the iceberg. According to the New York Post, Coca-Cola allegedly urged its employees to be "less white" in their training program, "Confronting Racism," in late 2020 and early 2021. 

Coca-Cola hasn't verified the authenticity of any of these allegations.