The Polar Bear That Has Coke Steaming

Those Coca-Cola polar bears sure are cuddly--and Coke's holiday ad campaign, with the bears pushing a Christmas tree up a hill, was one gf its most successful in years. It also did wonders for Polar, a $75 million company in Worcester, Mass., that sells seltzer in New England. A polar bear named Orson has been its mascot since 1902. Hence Polar's cheeky parody, a TV spot launched Dec. 24: As Orson tosses a Coke can in the trash, a tagline pleads: "Keep The Arctic Pure."

Not surprisingly, Coke was quick to take offense, claiming the spoof was defamatory. A federal judge in Boston agreed, ordering Polar's ad off the air mn Dec. 30. But ever since, Polar has been deluged with letters from loyal seltzer swiggers, many of whom have donated $1 bills for an Orson defense fund, says Polar President Ralph Crowley Jr. Polar execs are plotting a new ad that will poke fun at Coke without defaming it. Meanwhile, the attention hasn't hurt a bit. Says Crowley of his battle with $14 billion Coke: "We're happy campers."

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