Coca-Cola rapped for running competition in India

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NEW DELHI -- Coca-Cola Co.'s Indian subsidiary has been told by India's fair-practices watchdog body to withdraw a promotional competition because the watchdog says the promo encourages sales on the basis of a gamble, rather than product price and quality, in violation of established trade practices.

The Coca-Cola India promotion offers consumers a chance to win prizes such as a free trip to Hollywood in exchange for seven Coca-Cola soft drink crowns and a 42-cent charge for an audio tape and contest entry form. New Delhi-based Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission has ordered Coca-Cola to end the promotion by February 28.

"Since the scheme has gone more than half-way through and since quite a few consumers have tried their luck by participating in the scheme, it would not be advisable at this stage to restrain the respondent from its full implementation," the Commission notice reads, in reply to a complaint filed by the Director General of Investigation and Registration.

Coca-Cola is to respond to the Commission, which claims the promotion may lead to increased sales through unfair means and a distortion of the competition.

Since its 1993 return to India after a 16-year absence, Coca- Cola has captured a 61.7% share of the Indian soft drinks market. Rival Pepsi is No.2, though its presence in colas is neck-and-neck.

McCann-Erickson India, Bombay, handled the advertising for the promotion, and handles Coca-Cola's international brands.

Copyright February 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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