Coca-Cola Just Removed Their Label. And Their Media.

Coca-Cola MENA took a bold stance this Ramadan and broke free from the typical CSR campaigns that flood social media during the Holy Month. In the UAE and in Egypt, the soda giant set new marketing heights for what can be achieved in the region. Both activations fall in line with the brand’s global campaign “Let’s Take an Extra Second”, encouraging people to see beyond stereotypes.

In the UAE market, Coca-Cola tweaked their cans to have one very distinguishing feature. The cans have no labels. Stripped of their cursive letters and product details, only the red and white ribbons remain with a message that reads “Labels are for cans not for people.”

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Picture courtesy of FP7/DXB

Titled “Remove Labels This Ramadan”, the campaign addresses the societal divides in the Middle East that stem from prejudice and rash judgments.

Dubai-based agency FP7/DXB, part of McCann Worldgroup, is behind the creative direction and released a statement elaborating further on its drive saying: “In The Middle East, a region with over 200 nationalities and a larger number of labels dividing people, these Coca-Cola cans send a powerful and timeless message that a world without labels is a world without differences. And that we are all basically the same –human.”

The campaign is supported with a powerful YouTube video, co-produced by FP7/DXB and Memac Ogilvy Dubai. It shows a social experiment conducted by Coca-Cola where UAE residents from different backgrounds are invited to meet for the first time in complete darkness. Unable to see one another, they are asked to guess what the person in front of them looks like based only on their voice. The end result showcases in full force that preset judgments often cloud our vision of who a person really is.

It is worth noting that even the title of the video has no brand name labelling.

Because the nutrition values and ingredients were removed from the cans, they are expected to be distributed at events but not sold in supermarkets.

In the Egyptian market, Coca-Cola kept quiet for the first two weeks of Ramadan, a sharp move considering how highly anticipated their advertisements are during the Holy Month in that market. In lieu of the big bang seasonal campaign, the brand only posted teaser messages on its social networks confirming the silence was intentional.

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On the 2nd of July 2015, Coca-Cola finally released a video about their Ramadan advertisements. A first for the region, the brand announced that the season’s video spots will only be live on Facebook and YouTube, and that the money saved from media spend will be donated to 100 underprivileged villages in Egypt.

The Ramadan campaign “ثانية_تفرق” (a close translation of “Let’s Take an Extra Second”) was then uploaded to YouTube. Four short videos urged viewers to take one extra second to get to know a person before judging them too harshly on shallow perceptions. Each spot shows the negative labels that would have been attributed to young successful Egyptian figures based on their backgrounds, had they not been so well-known. The uploads already amassed a total of 3M views within four days from launch, with paid support.

Coca-Cola Egypt’s null media spend, while admirable, could also be a declaration of independence to the television industry, notorious for its hefty air space prices.

“ثانية_تفرق” marks the first time the thread with traditional media is completely cut off in a MENA campaign. It would be interesting to see if other brands follow suit in the soda company’s no-more approach to media spend. If online proves to be more economical to brands than air time, this could very well be the beginning of a new phase for marketing and for the television revenue model.

To read about Coca-Cola’s controversial “Hello Happiness” campaign in Dubai, May 2014 click here  

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