Coke as a broker of peace and conflict
Coca-Cola as a peace broker
I don’t know what to make of Coca-Cola’s recent marketing strategies, as reported in the Washington Post. The ad,
“Small World Machines” starts with a relatively straightforward premise: India and Pakistan do not get along so well. It ends with the promise of peace: “Togetherness, humanity, this is what we all want, more and more exchange,” a woman, either Indian or Pakistani, narrates as the music swells. Sounds great. How do we get there? By buying Coke, of course.
The idea is to have two vending machines, one in Lahore and one in New Delhi, each with views of the other. To buy a Coke, buyers have to cooperate. Here are photos showing how it works. And here’s how Coke explains it, with video and slides.
As the Post explains, this may not be as far-fetched as it seems.
Sharing tasks and short-term, low-risk social interactions are classic conflict resolution tactics, including as a part of the civilian-to-civilian interactions sometimes termed “track two diplomacy.” Indo-Pakistani tensions could use all the help they can get.
But the Post concludes with an update:
Deputy foreign editor Karin Brulliard, a former Pakistan bureau chief, alerts me that, per the Wall Street Journal, Pepsi dominates the soda market there. Maybe that’s what’s been holding back peace?
This is not the first time that Coke markets its products as the key to world peace. Those of you who are old enough might recall the “I’d like to teach the world to sing” video from 1990.
Coca-Cola as a conflict promoter
Who at Coke got the clever idea of producing personalized bottles with 150 popular names—in Israel, of all places?
Oops. Forgot the 1.5 million Arabs who live there.
Alas, the campaign has caused a huge controversy in the Mideast.
Recall: All this is about selling Coke internationally. Americans aren’t buying it so much anymore, so overseas it goes.