Why Warren Buffett's Face Is on Cherry Coke Cans in China

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Influential investor Warren Buffett appears on cans of Cherry Coke in China in an image Coca-Cola promises is not an April Fool's prank.
Influential investor Warren Buffett appears on cans of Cherry Coke in China in an image Coca-Cola promises is not an April Fool's prank. Credit: The Coca-Cola Company

Warren Buffett, investment maven and … soda can star? Coca-Cola in China has taken the unusual step of putting the face of its top investor on cans of Cherry Coke in China to promote the drink's launch in the country.

Coke announced the move on its corporate blog on March 31, leaving us to wonder if this was some kind of April Fool's joke. But a Coke spokeswoman confirmed that it's the real thing. Putting the face of an investor on a soda can would seem to be an unusual move in the U.S., where such marketing real estate is typically reserved for sports and music stars. Considering Mr. Buffett's rock-star status in China, however, Coke's move in China makes some sense.

"Warren Buffett is the financial god in China," Linda Steele, a founder of the Nebraska Chinese Association in Omaha, told the Omaha World-Herald in a 2016 story about how Mr. Buffett's annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting was expected to draw up to 3,000 Chinese visitors that year. "He is being praised in China as the one who can never be beaten in the stock market," she told the paper. "Many Chinese investors are crazy about him."

Mr. Buffett is a huge fan of Cherry Coke and Coca-Cola's largest single shareholder at 400 million shares, according to Coke. "As we thought of the most creative ways to bring the great taste of Cherry Coke to China, we thought who better to celebrate the launch of this special drink than its best-known fan," Shelly Lin, Coca-Cola China's marketing director for trademark Coca-Cola, said in Coke's blog post. "We honestly were surprised when Mr. Buffett agreed to the idea. But we're thrilled, and he's selling well."

Cherry Coke went on sale in China on March 10. The Buffett cans will run for a limited time.

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