Some decisions are hard. Others are not. Here’s a no brainer:
Should you do what you promise?
(See, that was easy.)
Still, the second biggest brand in the world finds it very hard to decide. The 2014 Olympic Games (held in Sochi, Russia) are heavily sponsored by Coca-Cola. In fact, Coca-Cola has been the biggest sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1928. They have been supporting the noble principles of ‘Olympism’ for almost a century. And right now, the head honcho’s at Coca-Cola are deliberating on whether or not they should speak out against Russia’s new anti-gay laws.
Now, what caught my eye was this petition on sumofus.org. It is a petition to convince the Coca-Cola executives to speak out against the discrimination of gays. Close to 300,000 people (and counting) signed it. Their objective: show Coca-Cola the potential brand damage if they stay silent. This means that one of the biggest brands in the world needs a lesson in its own brand values.
One of the biggest brands in the worlds needs a lesson in its own brand values
Some titbits from the principles of Coca-Cola:
‘Our values serve as a compass for our actions and describe how we behave in the world.’
• Leadership: The courage to shape a better future
• Integrity: Be real
• Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me
• Diversity: As inclusive as our brands
Coca-Cola claims to be all about Diversity, Integrity, and having the Courage to shape a better future. I say: put your money where your mouth is.
Put your money where your mouth is
I came across this Coca-Cola ad from the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin:
I’m pretty sure this ad is a fake (Getränk is with an umlaut and the payoff ‘Coke is it’ wasn’t introduced for another twenty years or so), but Coke did partner up with the fascist and xenophobic German regime (and they made a ‘killing’). History repeats. Back then, it was Hitler and the blacks (remember Jesse Owens?). This time it’s Putin and the gays. And Coke is always there, sponsoring, endorsing, making money. It seems their belief in diversity and integrity depends on market opportunities.
The first principle of ‘Olympism’ is ‘Non-Discrimination. The Olympic Movement strives to ensure that sport is practised without any form of discrimination whatsoever.’ Russia’s new anti-gay laws embody the direct opposite of this principle. So it seems almost surreal that Russia under Putin hosts the Games honouring the Olympic principles. And Coca-Cola keeping quiet can mean only one of two things:
1. The brand values of Coca-Cola are utterly worthless, or
2. They are coming up with a brilliant creative strategy to send a message to Putin and the world, with their integrity intact.
Please let it be number 2. I see a Golden opportunity here. Coca-Cola is in a unique position to send a message to Putin in front of a global audience, and reaffirm their ambitious brand values in one brilliant stroke. I mean these are the guys that made India and Pakistan love each other. They gave us the Friendship Machine, the Happiness Machine and the Hug Machine. They don’t have to change ‘Coke is it’ to ‘Cock is it’ but the least they can do is launch a Gay Machine, delivering sparkly pink-with-rainbow cans that say ‘Share a coke with a gay’.