Coca-Cola is under fire for what many call shameless pandering to the Muslim community, just to sell soda.
The company has unveiled a new logo for the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, which will be displayed on advertising and billboards across the country of Norway. In recent years, Norway has seen a large influx of immigrants from Muslim countries, and the advertising campaign is an effort to reach out to them.
The logo features the traditional Coca-Cola logo inside a crescent moon, a traditional symbol in the Muslim faith.
At this time, Norway is the only country where the advertising campaign will take place, according to a report on the Norwegian news website Dagbladet.
According to Johanna Kosanovic, Coca-Cola’s marketing manager in Norway, the Coca Cola Ramadan advertising campaign is the latest in the country’s history of outreach to the Muslim community. “In Muslim countries we have a long history of highlighting Ramadan, just as we in this country have tradition for Christmas campaigns. Now for the first time in Norway, we want to celebrate Ramadan together with Norwegian Muslims,” she said.
This isn’t the first time Coca-Cola has tried to expand their markets by focusing advertising campaigns to the Muslim community. In 2017, the company released a commercial in Saudi Arabia to link the drink to the country’s decision to let women drive.
Women are forbidden to drive cars alone, according to the tenets of the Muslim faith, but in 2017, Saudi King Salman issued a decree allowing women to legally drive alone. At the time, Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world that did not allow women to have driver’s licenses.
In response, Coca-Cola released a commercial that aired across the country that celebrated the announcement. Titled “The Taste of Change,” the commercial showed a Muslim father teaching his teenage daughter how to drive. They also share a Coke.
Some celebrated the ad, while others called it shameless pandering and opportunism, just to sell more Coke.
“Love this Ad! A Saudi teaching his daughter to drive. Well done CocaCola,” a Twitter user in Bahrain tweeted at the time.
A Twitter user in Qatar was more skeptical, tweeting “CocaCola: Saudi women driving edition. Brands jump at the chance to a profit off #Saudi’s historic announcement.”
A Saudi Arabian woman tweeted “The ad on the most symbolic moment for #Saudi #women is a #fail.”
Coca-Cola was about to open a $100 million bottling plant in Saudi Arabia at the time, so the commercial made sense, business-wise.
Here is the commercial Coca Cola aired in Saudi Arabia.
The Coca-Cola ads in Norway featuring the crescent moon run through the end of Ramadan on June 4.
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