Coca-Cola Removes Labels to Battle Prejudice

From Always' "Like a Girl" to Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" and more, using a brand's massive marketing power to break stereotypes has been popular among brands looking to start conversations around important issues. Now, a brand is harnessing its most iconic marketing asset – its label – in a bold move to inspire tolerance.

For the last week of Ramadan, Coca-Cola is redesigning its red cans in the Middle East. These new cans, while still bearing the iconic white ribbon, will be noticeably without the words "Coca-Cola." Instead, the cans will be emblazoned with one message, "Labels are for cans, not people." The beverage giant hopes the new cans will encourage "open-mindedness and tolerance" as part of its larger "Let's take an extra second campaign." To accompany the on-pack activation, the brand also released a video to show just how quickly prejudices can be formed (in seven seconds according to Coca-Cola). The video features six men seated at a table in a dark room, as each describes their lives and interests, the others start to make assumptions about what they look like. When the lights are turned on, the reality surprises them. The scene closes with a call to action in Arabic, "See people with your heart this Ramadan."

While Coca-Cola may be no stranger to redesigning its cans to make a splash, this time the brand has chosen a simple social impact message. In a world where social media reigns and viral videos spread like wildfire, on-package messages still remain the most effective communication channel to reach global consumers with social or environmental messages, according to the new 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study. As Coca-Cola's latest move shows, no area is too small for a major social impact message.

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