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‘ALEX SALMOND WAS INVITED AS SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER’, COMPANY INSISTS

'Homecoming Scotland': Coca-Cola Enterprises denies 2014 campaign offers tacit independence support

By Ben Bouckley+Ben BOUCKLEY

21-May-20141400623200
Last updated on 21-May-2014 at 18:01 GMT1400688087

Scotland's charismatic first minister Alex Salmond, who also happens to head up the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) (Photo: Scottish Government)
Scotland's charismatic first minister Alex Salmond, who also happens to head up the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) (Photo: Scottish Government)

Coca-Cola Enterprises insists it is celebrating a 'Year of Homecoming' as its own 50th anniversary following a suggestion that it offered Scottish Nationalist Party leader Alex Salmond tacit support by letting him hail Scotland's 'spectacular homecoming year'.

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and the nation’s first minister Alex Salmond (photographed below with CCE CEO John Brock) was guest of honor at an event held last Friday at the company's East Kilbride site to celebrate the firm’s anniversary.

This led us to suggest to CCE that it might have tacitly offered Salmond a platform to push his pro-independence agenda ahead of the September 18 2014 on Scottish independence from the UK.

Speaking at the event Salmond said: “This is a spectacular homecoming year for Scotland as we welcome visitors from around the world.

“It is therefore a fantastic endorsement to have Coca-Cola, a truly iconic and global brand, recognize this exciting year with their new tartan bottle design.”

Warm, well-deserved words of praise for a major Scottish employer, no doubt - East Kilbride bottles a raft of Coca-Cola brands (including Sprite and Fanta) as well as Dr Pepper - but also perhaps artfully chosen, given Salmond’s pro-independence stance?

'This is not an independence-led initiative' - CCE

A CCE spokesperson quashed the suggestion that the company had lent the Scottish independence movement tacit support, insisting to BeverageDaily.com that the guest list included Labour and Conservative as well as SNP SMPs (Scottish Members of Parliament).

“Alex Salmond was guest of honor and was invited to attend as First Minister of Scotland,” they said.

Turning to CCE’s special edition ‘Homecoming bottle’ (pictured), the spokesperson said it was the company’s second such bottle – a bottle celebrating poet Robert Burns was released in 2009.

'Better together!' Alex Salmond and John Brock

“We’ve been connected with Visit Scotland’s (Scotland’s National Tourism Organization) Homecoming campaign in previous years – this is not an independence-led initiative,” they said.

Homecoming Scotland 2014 is a Scottish Government initiative managed by Event Scotland, part of Visit Scotland. It seeks to encourage the country's tourism and events industries to show the role they play in delivering sustainable, sustained growth to Scotland’s economy.

“As a truly local business we are proud to be supporting such an iconic year in Scotland, with the launch of our new Homecoming bottle which is testament to the heritage we’ve built here in East Kilbride since the site first opened in 1964,” Jim Duddy, operations director at CCE East Kilbride, said at the event on Friday.