Blake Loates said she and her husband were "shocked" when they discovered the message under a cap of Vitamin Water Tuesday and her father, Doug Loates of Tacoma, Wash., whose younger daughter Fiona, 11, is living with cerebral palsy and autism, wrote letters to the company demanding an explanation, Metro News Canada reported Friday.
"The R-word is just something we don't say in my family," Blake Loates said. "My dad is quite upset and is on a rampage."
Coca-Cola officials said the cap resulted from a promotion in the Canadian market that paired random English words with random French words under the cap. "Retard" was the French word in this case, and means late or delayed in that language.
"I am astonished that a major corporation could allow someone to tarnish their brand," Doug Loates wrote in his letter. "Not everyone in Canada speaks French -- like my daughter, Blake."
"When you look at the same word in English, it takes an offensive connotation," said Shannon Denny, director of brand communications for Coca-Cola Refreshment Canada.
"We did not mean to offend at all," Denny said. "We are certainly very apologetic for this oversight."
David Thomson, vice-president of still beverages for Coca-Cola, said the family will be receiving a formal letter of apology from the company.
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