To celebrate Ramadan, Coca Cola launched a new billboard campaign with the now famous logo enveloped by a crescent moon. A nice creative visual that would work well in Indonesia, Bangladesh or Turkey, but the country that this campaign is running in is Norway. Surprise!
Johanna Kosanovic, marketing manager in Norway, explains the surprising move:
"In Muslim countries, we have a long history of highlighting Ramadan, just as we in this country have a tradition for Christmas campaigns. Now for the first time in Norway, we want to celebrate Ramadan together with Norwegian Muslims."
But unlike majority Muslim countries, Norway is mostly Lutheran Christian, with 71.5% of the population belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway. The Catholic Church is the next largest Christian church at 2.9%. Unaffiliated Norwegians make up 16.8% of the population, while Islam is followed by another 2.9%. But this isn't really about religion, this is about diversity, explains Johanna Kosanovic.
"We want to show where we stand on diversity and how important it is to society. Diversity and inclusion have always been important to Coca-Cola. For example, many do not know that in the 1950s we were actively engaged in the civil rights movement and that Coca-Cola was the first to front women in advertising campaigns."
Ah, yes, of course. Women 'fronted' Coke advertising campaigns back when it was sold as a "brain tonic" that cured headaches and fatigue.
In an interview with Dagbladet, Norway, Johanna Kosanovic elaborates more about Coke's diversity strategy:
"In general, I can say that we have a long history of taking an active position on issues related to diversity and gender equality. An example from recent times is how we in Norway are the main partner for the SHE conference. And in Sweden, women's football supports as much money as the men's football in connection with the football World Cup. Beyond that, we never comment on plans for upcoming products and campaigns."
She doesn't think that this campaign will have that many negative reactions:
"We believe most share our values, such as the importance of community and joy. So we understand that not everyone will like us to take an active stand for cultural inclusion. It's ok."