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Coca Cola for the New Egypt

June 28, 2011

“It’s all about optimism” Ahmed Nazmy, marketing director at Coca-Cola Egypt reportedly told his team after the fall of Mubarak. So youth, optimism and Coca-Cola are linked together in this newest ad:

For those who can’t understand the Arabic refrain, a gloss is ““Make tomorrow better, the sun is rising.”

I’ve already written about the spirit of Tahrir being appropriated by various political actors; it was only a matter of time before we saw efforts by marketing to link their products with the events of Jan 25.

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Egypt (CCBCE) is the twelfth largest spender on television advertising, and its billboards and signs are ubiquitous. It has always been creative in tying its advertising to what it sees as prevailing themes and topics, from  partnering with Coca-Cola Asia pacific for very high-end global ‘Eid holiday ads, to giving away Coca-Cola Ramadan lanterns (this was in 1997; it was one of their most popular giveaways; less than a year later, with some lantern-related advertising still in circulation, they could not find a single lantern still around for me to photograph).

An icon of American culture, Coca-Cola has also been savvy about marketing itself during boycotts inspired by solidarity with the Palestinians. Rather than try to fight the public mood, Coke switches much of its advertising budget over to its popular Fanta fruit drink line–which is not semiotically linked to the US in the Egyptian popular imagination–until the mood has shifted again.

Will this ad work? Depends on what one means by “work.” The ad tries to link the product to the positive side of the public mood post-Mubarak (as opposed to the apprehensive aspect of that public mood) without actually claiming a stake in the Youth Movement or appropriating images of Tahrir itself–one of the problems Vodafone ran into.

So far the signs are that the ad resonates. The ad received more than 50,000 “likes” on youtube shortly after its release (way ahead of rival Pepsi whose new ad about empowering young people with ideas received a little over 20,000 “likes”).

Pepsi has been edging Coke out as the Cola soft drink of choice in Egypt,although it is always unclear what role marketing actually plays in these things. This ad, though, is less effective than the Coca-Cola ad because it takes away the agency of the young people. In the Coke ad, it is the young people who go out and clear away the clouds and let the sun shine. In the Pepsi ad, the soda inspires young people to go outside, but the pastel transformation of Egypt seems to happen without any direct effort on their part.

Optimism, that is, but less empowerment.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Iman Aziz permalink
    July 22, 2011 12:18 am

    how can i access the marketing manager for coca cola ? i wish to discuss sponsorship opportunity with him.
    kindly add BESHOY AWAD on facebook to contact.

    • potatoskins permalink
      July 22, 2011 2:15 pm

      Sorry. My contacts at Coca-Cola spoke with me as an academic studying globalization in Egypt. I can’t share contact information.

  2. October 11, 2016 10:54 am

    who wrote this article (the author)

    • October 11, 2016 1:08 pm

      I did. Mark Allen Peterson, PhD. I am the author of all the blog posts unless there is a specific notice that the post is a reblog or a guest post.

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  1. Egyptische revolutie geeft inspiratie aan Coca Cola | Nieuws Boulevard

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