Advertisement can be political. A brilliant example comes from the Middle East market: CocaColas 2015 Ramadan Campaign „Labels are for cans, not for people“ takes aÂ stand against inequality and attempts to abolish prejudices. The highlight of the campaign is this video:
For me as a Westerner, there is an other aspect highlighted in this video and further underlined by the fact, that Ramadan is the high season for commercial advertisementÂ in the Middle East:Â For once we get an idea, that there is an other life, a modern, „normal“ life in MEÂ beyond the endless stream of negative pictures and stories we have seen in our media since years. People in Cairo, Dubai, Tehran, etc.Â are not justÂ living in the dark Middle Ages spending their day by praying and throwing bombs.
Ramadan has a very secular aspect: it is big business aggressively promoted by local and international companies:
Wallblog says: „Ramadan comes but once a year but unlike Christmas it lasts for an entire month and has a profound effect on the ways that brands market themselves in Muslim countries, … Just like Christmas for the West, Ramadan in the Muslim world is when brands spend the most mount of marketing dollars too.“
Each year the big brands and companies engage in an expensive competition about the most attractive advertisement campaigns and/or TV spots in the various markets of the muslim world from North Africa to Arabia and Asia. Like in the Super Bowl in the US the advertisers in the muslim world have managed to create a hype around the campaigns even before they are released.
Of course, there is also growing critics about the hypeÂ not only from religious fundamentalist:Â „A lot ofÂ companies with big budget ads this year were harshly criticised on social media for ‚wasting‘ millions on commercials.“
This year CocaCola with its campaign „Labels are for cans, not for people is the winner of the advertisement competition among the big brands in the Middle East. Specialists call the CocaCola’s Ramadan 2015 Campaign „a „Game Changer“:
In Egypt CocaCola first caught the attention of the consumersÂ by NOT starting a campaign at the beginning of this year’s Ramadan creating a huge impatientÂ expectation as ScoopEmpire reports:
„For nearly three weeks now, people have been literally knocking on Cokeâ€™s door, asking them for the commercial, wondering why they havenâ€™t released and when they will. …People went berserk about this; before even releasing the ad, people had already declared Coke the winner of the Ramadan ad race.“
Then, only minutes before Coca-Cola finally released their much-anticipated Ramadan advertisement campaign, „they put out a notice saying that the adverts will only run online, while the money saved from purchasing airtime will go directly to those in need.“ Â „… they’ll instead be spending the money usually used to buy primetime TV slots to develop 100 needy villages in Egypt.“ (CairoScene).
But CocaCola did not stop there: They linked the charity campaign with a viral campaign „One Second Makes a Difference“ to promote the inequality feature. Egyptian Streets explains why:
„In a society where social gaps seem to grow wider, prejudices and stereotypes continue building higher walls between Egyptians. Oftentimes, Egyptians are caught in the habit of judging and labeling people based on their appearances and social standing.“ … „In a public calling to abandon such destructive habit, Coca-Cola has initiated the hasthag #Ø«Ø§Ù†ÙŠØ©_ØªÙØ±Ù‚ (one second makes a difference) asking its audience to spend more time learning about one another before they pass any judgments.“
The CocaCola campaign has been presented differently in each country in the Middle east, but it boils down to the same message: „Labels are for cans, not for people.“