The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) is not making many friends in the gay community with its recent actions. Following on the heels of strong criticism of Coke’s sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and a controversy about cutting a scene with a gay couple from from a Coke ad in Ireland, it was revealed yesterday that the company’s “Share-A-Coke” media campaign in South Africa censors the word “gay.”
The Share-A-Coke campaign controversy
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) recently introduced a new media campaign that invites people to “Share a Coke”, in which you can write text on a virtual can of Coke to send to a friend or family member.
The South African “Share-A-Coke” website permits visitors to use the word “straight” in their text messages on the virtual can, but does not allow the word “gay,” according to AmericaBlog.com. Users who try to use the word “gay” receive the error message, “Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just type that.”
Earlier Coca-Cola Co. statement
Up until recently, The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) had a reasonably good relationship with the gay community. The beverage giant responded to some of the recent criticism of their apparent anti-gay positions in a statement in December, saying it was “one of the world’s most inclusive brands” and that it “valued and celebrate[d] diversity.”
Coca Cola South Africa did not respond to a request for comment from the Huffington Post.
Furor over Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of Sochi Winter Olympics
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) has received criticism from a wide variety of organizations for its decision to become a sponsor of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The gay rights organization All Out garnered 138,000 signatures on petition to get Coke to make a statement outlining the company’s position regarding Russia’s gay rights laws. They were also just cut from the short list for “Britain’s Gay Oscars” due to their sponsorship of Sochi.
A company spokeswoman made a statement explaining The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) position on sponsoring the Olympics: “As a sponsor since 1928, we believe the Olympic Games are a force for good that unite people through a common interest in sports, and we have seen firsthand the positive impact and long-lasting legacy they leave on every community that has been a host.”