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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Mon 10
Apr
2006

Coca-Cola Stole My Brain

Syrup Fukk... I mean, BlakIn my novel Syrup, the hero comes up with an idea for a new cola called “Fukk,” which comes in a jet black can. He sells the concept to Coca-Cola (well, kind of), and the company releases it.

I’m hoping there will be a Syrup movie in the not-too-distant future, but Coke is making me nervous by releasing products that are increasingly like Fukk. The latest is “Blak.” It’s a black bottle, not a can, but still: I’m becoming convinced that their plan is to creep toward a Fukk-like product, then sue me for stealing their idea.

Incidentally, I visited the Blak web site and noticed it has a “Spread the Word” section. Coke is clearly excited about this, because if you visit any of the other sections, you see a big link back to “Spread the Word.” It turns out that Spreading the Word is sending e-mails to your friends to tell them about Coca-Cola Blak. I would be very interested to know if the number of people who use this facility is greater than zero.

Update: They do sell it in a black can! Aaargh!

Comments

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Cameron Government (#166)

Location: melb-au
Quote: "There once was a man from Nantucket"
Posted: 3087 days ago

OTOH, maybe you can look forward to lots of nice royalty cheques from Coke for using *your* idea!

John (#477)

Location: Seattle
Quote: "Did I do that?"
Posted: 3087 days ago

It actually looks... tasty? I really like coffee, in the sort of headache if I don't get at least a cup a day sort of like. So I'll be the one that gets excited about this. And goes and waits for the first bottle to show up in stores. And buys it.

Thanks, Max, for turning me into a corporate whore. I may never forgive you.

spinne (#427)

Quote: "I'm not here to cock around."
Posted: 3087 days ago

Sounds like Manhattan Special, only with less coffee, possibly less sugar, and definitely less caffeine. :)

Helen (#362)

Location: UK
Posted: 3087 days ago

I'm sure I've seen it in a can in a fancy sweet shop they have in London.

Picto (#64)

Location: United Kingdom
Quote: "Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Copyright everything in your book then Max. But heh, what do I know? They'd probably find a way around it. So long as you prove you did it first (i.e. release date of your book) then you should be OK.

Coke sucks anyway, the only nice one is Diet Coke at a push. Coca Cola Blak.. isn't that racist in these politically correct times? I'm pretty sure that removing the 'c' doesn't make a lot of different.

Heh, perhaps somebody at Coca Cola has read the book, read your blog and is inconspicuously conspiring against you so that they make mega bucks and you make zilch. Or maybe they've read the book and are planning to get to a stage where they can buy "Fukk" off you, because, if they can get away with Blak, then in years to come they'll get away with Fukk.

On other note, I think the whole Baa Baa Black Sheep thing is got out of hand too. I mean, it's been a nursery rhyme for many years and to say we can't say "black" is stupid.

To finish? The irony is actually funny; two guys in a white van for Window Insulation just turned around outside my house (bottom of the street) and the passenger is drinking a Coca Cola Blak, or something scarily similar.

Picto (#64)

Location: United Kingdom
Quote: "Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Oops. So many grammatical mistakes there. My bad, sorry.

Phill Sacre (#1822)

Location: London, UK
Quote: "Computers are like air conditioners. Both stop working, if you open windows."
Posted: 3087 days ago

I went to the website, but then it asked me to select my location (United States or France), and I'm not in either of them so I couldn't proceed.

What the Fukk?

Nathan Ives (#20)

Location: Sydney
Quote: "Bad is always where you forget to look - Willie Trombone"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Hope you didn't make the same mistake Scat made.

Hobbie (#1359)

Location: Cornwall, England
Quote: "There was a little man in his hair!"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Hmm... cola with coffee? I think I just lost my appetite.

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 3087 days ago

C'mon, Hobbie, that's not a bad idea. Nothing better to push those little ADD kids just a little further than a fine blend of sugar AND caffeine... can't wait to see what that will do to my car-driving behavior. I probably gonna end up like Lewis Black.

Wait a sec... They should get Lewis Black to do the commercials for that stuff! Lewis Blak! Whatcha think, how much can I make with that idea?

Hobbie (#1359)

Location: Cornwall, England
Quote: "There was a little man in his hair!"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Probably worth a year's supply of the stuff I should imagine Yenzo. Coincidentally, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought of ADD kids drinking this...

http://www.nationstates.net/blak-cola

And bang! Already a Nationstates... well... nation. The assimilation has begun.

John Doe (#797)

Location: Live from Omicron Persei 8
Quote: "You're just jealous because the little voices only talk to me."
Posted: 3087 days ago

Whoa, how small is that thing? It says on the label it only has 12g of sugar. Is this like the first product Coca-Cola ever makes that doesn't have buckets of sugar in it? Oh, and Diet Coke and the like don't count. I'd rather take my chances with sugar anytime, rather than put all those artificial sweeteners in me. Oh wait, I only drink water and tea anyway. Never mind. *going to get some yummy green tea from the fridge*

Marc (#1168)

Location: SF
Posted: 3087 days ago

I'm an American living in London and sometimes I get a weird craving for American candy like reeses pieces and the like. It's hard to tell from the picture but it looks like the website I buy it from already sell Blak it in a can.

http://www.cybercandy.co.uk/aaasmt/index.php/url_pmet3/xlc_2526/xdbc_blak/dbtc_1/pic_1/add_custsearch/stc_0/scope_short#2526

Sorry Max, looks like they're closer to Fukk in a can than you thought

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: "www.MidwestRockLobster.blogspot.com"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Well Max, you'll probably quit publishing an email address here, because I went to the site and used the 'spread the word' thing to send you an e-mail about it.

My first thought when I first saw it was you Fukk-like it was. Then I heard it was Coke with coffee in it, something which could only have developed from an industrial accident or a monumental dare.

Oh, and I think the Coke guys were worried that no one would use the e-mail thing, because they have two buttons for doing it: one for 'spread the word,' another for 'in the know,' both of which bring up identical screens to allow you to generate spam for the Coca-Cola Company.

But they were smart enough not to expect French people to do anything that dumb. I think, I'm far from fluent, but if you lie and say you're in France, you get a a different animation, one that insults your intelligence in French.

Sophie (#891)

Location: Devon
Posted: 3087 days ago

I think they might be copying the Pepsi Coffee Cino drink. www.flickr.com/photos/bigbold/104359223/

This blog has just given me a huge craving for coffee-flavoured cola beverages, darn you!

Chris (#1228)

Location: London, UK
Posted: 3087 days ago

"I would be very interested to know if the number of people who use this facility is greater than zero." - well, Max, you just *blogged* about it, so I suspect they'll settle for that rather than people emailing about it!

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: "www.caffeinatedmuslim.com"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Hi Max,
This drink came out last week and I tried it. I wasn't sure what to think of it at first but I had it again and I think I like it. It has a bit of an aftertaste because of the artificial sweetner and it's got twice the caffeine of regular soda. They released it in France first with more of a coffee taste but they toned it down for the U.S. I don't know why they think we can't handle the true drink.

Ok, so I didn't use the 'Spread the Word' option, but I did tell my coworkers about the site, if only the hear the lady talk about 'Coke effervescense.'

Jason (#1193)

Location: Indianapolis, IN
Quote: "The bulwark of the suggestion box has failed."
Posted: 3087 days ago

Ugh that Blak stuff sounds HORRID. The only good Coke product for me anymore is Coke with Lime, but I've given up caffeine (permenantly, as of last New Years last year) so I can't have it.

Zoomy (#1546)

Location: Outside Glasgow
Posted: 3087 days ago

It's a stupid website. First off, it asks if you live in the U.S or France, knob the rest of the world. Second off, its one of those websites that has a loading time just so it can have all sorts of flashy animations which everyone hates. And who the Fukk is going to actually have a Blak wallpaper on their desktop?

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 3087 days ago

blak dont crack
:)

Justin (#2009)

Location: Halfmoon, NY
Quote: "Max(x) is awesome!"
Posted: 3087 days ago

You realize, of course, all the free advertising you just gave them... But maybe that's the plan... they've been paying you all along... They paid you to write about Fukk, and then had this drawn-out, years-long plan to slowly market you, and then you, in turn would help them market their Fukk knock-off. Crazy, you say? Then I dare you to refute it! Ha!

That is all. :-)

Greg Karber (#1568)

Location: gregkarber.com
Posted: 3087 days ago

I don't think the word "Black" has been removed from our language, Picto. It's still a color. I have yet to hear anyone, anyone at all, suggest that I can't use the color Black to describe anything, even something that is, in fact, black.

talk less. say more. (#1942)

Location: tampa, florida
Quote: "talk less. say more."
Posted: 3087 days ago

i looked at that site after someone left a comment about it a few blogs ago. it gave me the creepiest feeling.. like sneaky pete had something to do with it. =)

John Perkins (#1915)

Location: Phoenix, AZ
Quote: "Nothing says love like cash."
Posted: 3087 days ago

I saw something about this on one of those E! shows this weekend, and I told my wife that they were totally ripping you off but that I had not seen anything about it on your blog. Apparently, it just took you a while to find out. You should definitely get some sort of profit sharing deal for this, especially after the movie comes out.

Michael Landing (#2311)

Location: Tallahassee FL
Quote: "I <3 max's books"
Posted: 3087 days ago

whether they will sue YOU for stealing YOUR idea or not is up to YOU! you made this, if they step across the line don't let them trample over you. Lawyer up max :)

Eric (#1761)

Location: "The seat of Capitalist Power
Posted: 3087 days ago

no fricken way, thats shallow. Next they'll be funding a feature film. I never liked coka anyways.

Oh and by the way max, Your nation states has competator too. http://www.cybernations.net

Michael Ricksand (#2212)

Location: Terra
Quote: "You do not have a right to be stupid."
Posted: 3087 days ago

Said before, said again: Truth is stranger than fiction, because the truth has no need to be consistent and realistic.

Cupie (#1396)

Location: Seattle-ish
Quote: ""You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." -Dorothy Parker"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Coke would be wise not to <a href="http://cupiespew.blogspot.com/2006/04/fukking-future.html"/>Fukk the Blak</a> anymore than they have...heh.

Keely (#1602)

Location: easy-peasy-24.livejournal.com of course!
Quote: "I always wanted to see the lights of Broadway... but then you get there and they're really kind of annoying."
Posted: 3087 days ago

O.O

And this is after the tattoos of companies, the selling of names to corporations--both names, apparently (( http://www.startribune.com/804/story/358012.html ))--the impossibly small availability of new nike shoes, etcetera?

Tomorrow we'll find out that the popular _______ business-management-guide series was developed through a simulation of a real company environment.

These people are ripping you off, Max. Either that, or you're practically a prophet. If that last paragraph comes true, I think I'm gonna convert to Max Barry-ism.

Keely (#1602)

Location: easy-peasy-24.livejournal.com of course!
Quote: "I always wanted to see the lights of Broadway... but then you get there and they're really kind of annoying."
Posted: 3087 days ago

I should mention that I'm thirsty now.

...for coffee-flavored Coca-Cola. Thanks a lot, Barry.

Colette (#324)

Location: Boise, Idaho, USA
Quote: "What's popcorn made of?"
Posted: 3087 days ago

I feel traitorous, but I've tried it. Odd flavor. Cheaper to make at home, though. Buy carbonated water and put it in your coffee. Yup.

Proud supporter of Fukk.

Tyler Cooper (#1889)

Location: Olympia, WA
Quote: "Welcome intrigue. Welcome sophistication. Welcome Blak."
Posted: 3087 days ago

I find it hilarious that the website has lounge music playing in the background.

"Welcome intrigue. Welcome sophistication. Welcome Blak."

Yeah, that's definately my new quote for this site.

Joseph (#1825)

Location: Jeffersonville, Indiana, USA
Quote: "With a gun barrel between your teeth, you speak only in vowels."
Posted: 3087 days ago

Well belive it or not its not all marketed. Blak does have lower caleries per 20 oz bottles. Coke claims blak has 45 calories per 1 bottle while regular classic coke contains like 210 calories per 20 oz bottle.

I think they read your book and took some minor changes to your Fukk. Now only if they could get a catchy slogain like "Fukk, in a can!"

Kori (#2258)

Location: Rochester, MN
Quote: "And then Jesus said, 'Let them eat cake.'"
Posted: 3087 days ago

I love the java, but somehow fizzy coffee doesn't quite grab me as something I'm going to rush out to buy.

Michael Landing (#2311)

Location: Tallahassee FL
Quote: "I <3 max's books"
Posted: 3087 days ago

quote: 'keely': "These people are ripping you off, Max. Either that, or you're practically a prophet. If that last paragraph comes true, I think I'm gonna convert to Max Barry-ism."

i'd worship him XD

Machine Man subscriber Xavier Desroches (#1840)

Location: Brossard, Qc, Ca
Quote: "Smile, Tomorrow Will Be Worse... - Murphy"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Just like Picto said, dont worry!!!
Your book is "old" enough and, of course, has been read enough to be used as a proof that you had this idea first! And btw, keep on going! Don't let this "little" cap corporation slow you down for your movie! ;-)

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: "www.caffeinatedmuslim.com"
Posted: 3087 days ago

Joseph, each bottle of Blak is only 8 oz., although the amount of calories in the 8 oz (45 calories) is still less than 8 oz. of regular soda (about 100 calories).

Andrew (#1279)

Location: Texas
Posted: 3086 days ago

I have yet to try out the drink :(. Hopefully you don't make us like boycott it :P.

Grace (#1225)

Location: Melbourne aka The Cliffs of Insanity
Quote: "I refuse to have a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed."
Posted: 3086 days ago

Yes. Max Barry as prophet... sounds like a great tax-dodge.

Roll with it Baz.

P.S. No offence, but I hope nothing else you have written about comes to pass!

Emily (#609)

Location: New York
Quote: "When in doubt, fuck it. When not in doubt, get in doubt!"
Posted: 3086 days ago

You predict the future, man. Today I was watching a stand-up routine by Carlos Mencia and he did a spiel about the spread of commercialism, and went through a bunch of American commercials as they might be done in the Middle East... and it culminated in this massive and kind of dark one about Nike. It was hilarious and my dad was like "Hey, that's pretty Jennifer Government."

I suppose in a weird way this is one up on you. Now you have to live your life out like your book! Good luck.

Proud Non-Supporter Of Coke,

-Em

Katy (#2345)

Location: Los Angeles
Posted: 3086 days ago

This has nothing to do with coca cola. Just a warning.

I just read your short 3,000 word story about babies. It's hilarious. Excellent ending. Had to post it. People may not care. But that story is fuuunnnnyyyyy.

wolverine (#1261)

Location: Australia
Quote: "People who take you at face value will always be your true friends. Truth + laughter = good friendships."
Posted: 3086 days ago

What about Coke Zero:

http://members.dodo.net.au/~grindercom/cokezero.jpg

Apparently a mostly white can is the norm, but there is the almost-completely black one. (Search it up if the link doesn't work, I think it's the Australian version of it.)


Wolverine.

natti (#2125)

Posted: 3086 days ago

Nothing to worry about, I hear it tastes like crap. Give it a few months of pushy promotion and nobody will even remember it existed.

SilverCloud (#2038)

Location: SANTA MONICA ,CA.U.S.A.
Quote: "Fortune Favors the Brave"
Posted: 3086 days ago

In the mid 60's I was taking college courses in Photography,
the focus was Subliminal Advertising(divert(the energy of a primitive impulse, esp. sexual) into a culturally acceptable activity. Psychol. of a stimulus below the threshold of sensation or consciousness.
What I see from the cola site is one big penis surrounded
by big and small breasts. For the trained eye it's sex in a bottle. They didn't say Fukk they ILLUSTRATED it.
It's like your Chinese book cover, those lips are dripping with sex and add the word Syrup....and POW there it is... Fukk.
If they added chocolate to the mix then it would really be sex in a bottle. Speed, Sugar and Endorphins=the WOW factor.
Glad to hear you and yours are doing well.
Silver Cloud
You must be a very Sexy guy.....

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 3086 days ago

Wednesday the 12th of April

SOMEDAY...I WILL BE CREATIVE ENOUGH TO HAVE SOMETHING STOLEN FROM.

Perhaps I should write about some fake product that's so creative that a company may want to steal the idea. How about...(drum role)...the automatic soap dispenser. It sounds lame at first, but after you think about it, it begins to make sense. In all American Bathrooms there are automatic sinks, paper towel dispensers, toilets, and blow dryers because people are afraid of germs. I don't see how or why we have overlooked the most important part of keeping germs from spreading, soap, for so long. But no more! Just wait, Automatic Soap Despensers(or ASD's) will be "flooding"(this is a pun...the lowest form of humor) the bathrooms of the United States in just a few months. You just wait...and remember I was the genius behind it.

-adam

PS...I'm an idiot.

DaveK (#2146)

Location: New Jersey, USA
Quote: "Do we have free will, or do the mass media and our culture control us, our desires and actions, from the moment we are born? - Chuck P."
Posted: 3085 days ago

Need to thank Max for the endless thought provoking writings, but this one finally got me writing back. Forget the product, the Blak site is painfully awful. It's what I'd expect in a badly directed movie version of Syrup where the director is trying to show cool and futuristic and coming up very lame. What's worse, until I used the back dropdown I was trapped and couldn't use the Back icon alone to get back to Max's page.

Not only a Max rip-off, as Sophie 891 posted, a Pepsi rip-off (the failed Pepsi Kona).

And spread the word by sending an e-mail to friends? That's no friend sending that e-mail.

Wedding Crashers movie had the "Crash this Trailer" viral marketing that worked. If you're going to be part of the problem, you better entertain the e-mail recipient. I was entertained for, at least, the first 20 or so Crashed Trailer e-mails, depending on who's head went on who's body.

http://www.weddingcrashersmovie.com/crashthistrailer/

Note: I do not necessarily endorse the movie, just the marketing.

Adam (#1094)

Location: Wisconsin
Posted: 3085 days ago

Oh god, yeah. I saw that the other day and instantly thought of Fukk.

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 3085 days ago

Hmmmmm...Adam(#1094)...Adam(#24)...How does this work?

-adam(#24)

Dinko Hristov (#1065)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: """No one is fool enough to choose War over Peace. In Peace sons bury fathers, but in War fathers bury sons."- Herodotus"
Posted: 3084 days ago

Coca-Cola are evil, Evil, EVIL!!!! They stole YOUR idea, Max! I think you should hound them for the royalties. Or, hey! You should be proud that they might've gotten the idea after some R&D guy read "Syrup", in which case you should still hound them for the royalties.

Here's my general opinion regarding Coca-Cola:


PEPSI rules! That's why they don't need to advertize...because they KNOW they're 110% better than Coke. All hail the Pepsi Gods! Amen

Mozel (#2357)

Posted: 3084 days ago

Just in case you weren't already aware, there's a soda called Fukola Cola. It's not exactly "Fukk", but it's close. It doesn't look anywhere near as sexy as Fukk, though.

If I were the type to buy soda online, I might consider trying it.
http://store.yahoo.com/soda-pop/fukolacola.html

Adam (#1094)

Location: Wisconsin
Posted: 3084 days ago

Time paradox!

Michael (#1299)

Location: Northern California
Quote: "Chugachugachoochoo"
Posted: 3083 days ago

I clicked on the link to the website for Coca-Cola "Blak" then realized what I was doing and closed the page.

Dammit Max, don't you know what you're doing!? You're "Spreading The Word" about Coca Cola BLAK! If they aren't paying you for your ideas, they should at least be paying you for your promotional efforts.

You almost got me there...

Willz. (#2364)

Location: Nashville, TN, USA
Quote: "Never judge a book by its movie."
Posted: 3080 days ago

Fukk them.

*zing.*
*except... not*

That would actually be pretty awesome if they did make Fukk, though.
It would have to be you approved, of course, but still. I'd drink it.

Deb Cupples (#489)

Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Quote: "Deb finds cool stuff"
Posted: 3080 days ago

I have been so oblivious to what is going on in the world that I care about...hm... So, at the grocery store I am beckoned by the chubby gal offering me the best of two worlds: caffeine and caffeine - mixed together but different. Guess what? It tastes like CRAP! The lady next to me tried to convince herself that she "kind of" likes it. My point...be glad that this isn't FUKK. FUKK would taste good, but make you blush in public. Blak tastes like ass and makes you ashamed that you expected anything decent.

Machine Man subscriber gStein (#585)

Location: 127.0.0.1
Quote: "That's not change! That's more of the same!"
Posted: 3079 days ago

i saw BLAK the other day in the pub- my first thught was "heh- i wonder if Max knows about this"

Alex Jackson (#2352)

Location: Auburn, Washington
Quote: "How am I not myself?"
Posted: 3079 days ago

Did "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" remind anyone else of Syrup? It was like one big commercial.

John Morris (#346)

Location: Penn Valley
Quote: "to be or not to be"
Posted: 3074 days ago

I tried the coke blak. Talk about terrible. If you want to save some money go get a coke and mix with cold coffe. It's the worst thing and talk about a disgusting taste.

Mindy Beth (#2341)

Location: Tualatin, OR
Posted: 3057 days ago

Yeah I bought the blak and it sucks azz! It comes in the most minature sized bottles. Why oh why did I even try it?! Made me want to vomit!

toothling (#2675)

Location: home
Quote: "passion is inversely proportional to the a mount or real information available."
Posted: 2934 days ago

You know, I actually kind of like Blak. Not enough to make it really worth drinking of it's own merit, but add the snob-appeal effect and I'm perfectly willing to buy it. Eager, actually, because it plays perfectly into my image, and every little thing helps. Perception is reality, remember? *Wink, wink* *Reallly stupid looking, 'knowing' smirk*

Uncle Wiggles (#1091)

Location: Vancouver, BC
Quote: "In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move."
Posted: 2923 days ago

Have you thought of suing them and settling out of court for a life time supply of Blak?

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