share a coke with the mainstream

On our first night in London, Ed went out and bought me some Diet Coke. He came home with this:

my son is also named bort

I was immediately amused at the idea of named Coke products, and we had fun finding bottles with friend names on them and drinking them. It was my first experience with the whole #shareacoke campaign, and as fun as it was, I couldn’t help but be sad with the knowledge that I would never get a Coke bottle with my name on it – sometimes, being a special snowflake rainbow unicorn has disadvantages. They’re uncommon, but they’re there.

In Europe, you can order special Coke bottles with your name on them and have them shipped to you. In North America, we do not have such futuristic technology .. but if you live in a major city, you may have access to a Share a Coke booth at an event near you, where you can get a can printed with your name on it (Canada | USA). It’s free (unless you’re at an event with gate admission) and fun and .. surprisingly complicated.

I’d been stalking the booth since we returned from London, determined to get a can with my name on it. Last night, this happened:

SHARE ALL THE COKES WITH KIMLI (diet only plz)

I thought that all I had to do was walk up to the booth, enter my name, and walk away delighted with my prize. Unfortunately, that was not the case – you see, you can only get your name printed if it exists in the Approved Coca Cola Name Database. The database holds many more names than the 270 printed in Canada and the 250 in the US, and while I assume it’s a vast and culturally inclusive list, it can’t possibly be complete. My name doesn’t appear, of course – it doesn’t even appear in the 500,000 name database of the UK (although “Kimlie” does, wtf is that) – and because my name isn’t Officially Coke Approved, I couldn’t get a can without intervention .. in the form of ID.

Yeah, that little line on the Coke website that says “In some cases, ID may be required” ? If your name isn’t in the database, they’ll still print it for you .. IF you can show them identification with that name on it. They won’t take online proof, it has to be a physical card with your name printed on it (which, as it’s not a legal name change [I really need to get on that], I didn’t have). I pled my case while fishing through my wallet just in case, and came upon my Costco membership card issued to Kimli .. and luckily, they accepted it. The booth guy overrode the “NO CAN FOR YOU” message, typed in my name, and ten seconds later I had my prize. Hooray! Ed didn’t have any luck (he wanted to print his gaming name which is definitely not in the database), but he didn’t really care. I was delighted, though. KIMLI CAN! YAY! And I’ll never drink it, because it’s Coke and yuck!

So, that’s how you get a custom Coke can, if you’ve got a regular person name. If you’re a sparkle unicorn and can prove you really exist via a plastic card in your wallet, you’ll be allow to proceed. Everyone else, you’re shit out of luck .. unless you live in the UK and are willing to pay for one (which, let’s be honest, I would totally do).

C’mon, Coke. I know you’re trying to just protecting your brand by stopping people from printing cans with dirty words, but there has to be a better way than entering a name on a website and hoping it makes it through the gates for next time. I consume more Coke products than anyone I know – I deserve my name, damnit. Don’t let my eventual aspartame mutation be all in vain!

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