Advertisers may be known for jumping on just about every major holiday, but Ramadan has traditionally been an exception—likely because, as a month dedicated to fasting and self-denial, it represents the exact opposite of most marketing messages.
But here’s an interesting exception: Coca-Cola created a spot about a young Muslim woman who, in addition to enduring the late-afternoon discomfort of fasting, must also put up with harsh gazes and outright mockery from other people on the street.
The ad, from FP7 McCann UAE, doesn’t have any dialogue, a fact that helps drive home the point that it’s a scenario one might find in many countries where Muslims are in the minority. And the message of quiet support is equally universal.
As one might imagine from Coke, the story is ultimately a positive one, as the woman—preparing to break her fast wit the traditional meal of three dates—is offered a soda from a supportive passerby. Once the sun goes down, they enjoy the drinks together in a lovely shared moment.
“What unites us is bigger than what divides us,” the closing message says.
Posted to the Coca-Cola Netherlands Facebook page, the clip generated overwhelmingly positive feedback. A version uploaded (seemingly unofficially) to YouTube has been viewed nearly 2.5 million times.
While it’s understandable to be skeptical of brands seeking to build advertising around a holy event like Ramadan, YouTube commenters seem appreciative of the message, if not supportive of the product—which many say is not a wise decision for a beverage right after breaking your fast at sundown.
“Of course it’s absolutely unhealthy breaking fast with a Coke,” says one YouTube commenter. “This is just marketing. But guys, think about the message. I love that a big company like Coca-Cola is now doing something against the discrimination on Muslims.”
“I know there are valid reasons for not breaking a fast with a soft drink, particularly for Muslims who are observing a daily fast for the whole month of Ramadan,” notes another. “But kudos to Coca-Cola for creating a commercial with such an uplifting message!”