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Warren Buffett is such a rockstar in China that his face is being used to sell cans of Coke

By Neha Thirani Bagri

Warren Buffett is an unequivocal fan of Coca-Cola.

The 86-year-old says he drinks five cans of Coke a day, including for breakfast, and jokes he is at least “one-quarter Coca-Cola.” He has even defended the health impact of sugary drinks by saying that the happiness they bring outweighs the benefits of eating greens. (He’s also a huge shareholder in the company, with a stake worth $17 billion.)

In fact, Buffett is such a fan of drink he has even sung an ode to the brand.

And now, to promote the launch of Cherry Coke in China, his face will adorn special-edition cans of the drink in the country, while supplies last. The flavor was launched in China on March 10.

Coca-Cola
Branded.

Shelly Lin, Coca-Cola China’s marketing director for Trademark Coca-Cola, said that they were pleased that the brand’s “best-known fan” agreed to the gimmick.

 The image is a likeness of his face, but Buffett said that the company knew better than to ask him to sit for a portrait.

The company said that the reason they decided to ask him was Buffett’s “legendary” status as an investor in China, which has impelled many Chinese investors to make an annual pilgrimage to the annual meeting of investment firm, Berkshire Hathaway, in Omaha, Nebraska.

In 2016, the meeting drew 3,000 Chinese investors and Buffett’s remarks were simultaneously translated into Mandarin and live-streamed. In 2015, a Chinese gaming company bid $2.35 million at a charity auction to have lunch with Buffett.

“I think my ‘popularity’ in China is due to the huge interest in stocks in China that has developed in just a couple of decades. I was in the right place at the right time as the Chinese looked around for famous investors,” said Buffett.

“Also, they like old guys; Charlie’s my only competition,” Buffett added, referring to 93-year-old Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger.

While he isn’t being paid for the promotion, Buffett has been Coca-Cola’s largest single shareowner since the late 1980s; Berkshire Hathaway owns 9.3% of Coca-Cola.