A Vitamin Water promotion in Canada played bilingual Mad Libs, pairing a word in English with a word in French for what were sure to be hilarious results. The end product was not so hilarious when the paired words were “you” in English and the French word for “late.” A woman whose younger sister has autism and cerebral palsy opened up the “YOU RETARD” bottle, and was offended.
After all, what if her sister had been out to eat with her that night and ordered Vitamin Water? Their father wrote to the Coca-Cola board, unable to figure out how a promotion like this could go forward.
Coke claims that the random words had been reviewed for offensive meanings in French, but not in English. Well, okay, but most of Canada is anglophone, and the offending bottle turned up in a restaurant in the midwestern province of Alberta. The woman who opened the bottle doesn’t speak French at all: even if she did, “you retard” is a grammatical phrase in English but not in Franglais.
Coca-Cola, for their part, apologized, but didn’t explain what they were thinking. “We did not mean to offend at all,” a Canadian spokesperson told Metro. “We are certainly very apologetic for this oversight.”
An executive told the paper that remaining caps that were part of the promotion were destroyed in order to prevent any more hilarious mixups. “At no point in time did we intend on offending anyone by any stretch,” he said, “and we have cancelled and moved on and have dealt with this as soon as possible.”