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Coca-Cola accused of homophobia in new ad campaign

Share-A-Coke - Cover

Coca-Cola went from beloved soft drink company had already garnered the wrath of LGBT allies this past week when they became public sponsors of the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia, where controversy has raged over the nation’s anti-gay laws and their threat to gay athletes. But the company incited even more anger recently when a new campaign of theirs was found to discriminate against language regarding homosexuality.

According to AmericaBlog, Coke’s South African “Share-A-Coke” website, which virtual can of Coke which user can personalize, gives a surprising error message if you try to type the word “gay” into the promotional tool. The same thing happens is a user tries to type “homo.”

“Oops, let’s pretend you didn’t just try that,” the message reads.

However, words like “heterosexual” and “straight” are recognizable by the promotional tool.

Once the news of the anti-gay “glitch” hit the web, LGBT activists quickly hijacked the site and used the promotional tool to produce anti-coke images to show off the company’s alleged homophobia.

Coke’s core principle is perceived as intolerance! #shareaCokeza #CheersToSochi

blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>You can send your #CheersToSochi message to @CocaCola using their own social media tool, here. #LGBT #shareaCokeza

— Queer Nation NY (@QueerNationNY) January 24, 2014

Coca-Cola South Africa has yet to respond to the controversy, but in December the company defended its support of the Sochi Olympics and assured that it was “one of the world’s most inclusive brands” and that it “valued and celebrate[d] diversity.”

It’s still unclear whether the lack of inclusive language was intentional, but it’s also reasonable to assume that it was just a glitch.

In any case, now that the Share-A-Coke flap has been pointed out, it would be a smart move on Coke’s part to consider the LGBT community and language regarding them when making any more ad campaigns and promotions for their brand. – nicholas robinson