Coca-Cola ad sparks outrage in Bangladesh for denying ties to Israel

Coca-Cola ad sparks outrage in Bangladesh for denying ties to Israel

The company's attempt to recoup sales during the ongoing boycott backfired big time.
13 Jun, 2024

A Coca-Cola advertisement in Bangladesh is garnering widespread criticism over its attempt to distance itself from its perceived ties with Israel amid the ongoing assault on Gaza.

The 60-second commercial, which aired on television and social media, is being called out for its insensitive response to the ongoing boycott in Bangladesh.

Calls for boycotts of companies believed to have ties with the Israeli military or government have surged in many Muslim-majority countries since October 7, including Bangladesh. This has led to a significant decline in sales for Coca-Cola in these regions, with local media reporting a 23 per cent drop in sales in Bangladesh.

According to Al Jazeera, Coca-Cola amped up its advertising efforts in Bangladesh to counter this decline. This includes full-page newspaper ads and prominent ad placements on news websites. The latest advertisement aimed to dispel what the company described as “misinformation” about Coca-Cola being an Israeli product.

The controversial ad

The advertisement, which debuted during the highly anticipated Pakistan-India T20 World Cup match in the US, opens with a scene in a market on a hot day. A young man named Sohail approaches a middle-aged shopkeeper he calls Bablu bhai.

The shopkeeper, watching a music video for a Coke Studio Bangladesh song, offers Sohail a bottle of Coke, which he refuses, saying, “No Bablu bhai, I am not drinking this stuff any more.” When the shopkeeper asks why, Sohail says, “This stuff is from ‘that place’.” He does not name the “place” but it soon becomes clear that he is referring to Israel.

Bablu then attempts to reassure Sohail and his friends that Coca-Cola is not an Israeli product, highlighting its global presence in 190 countries over 138 years, including in places like Turkey, Spain, Dubai — and even Palestine.

However, the ad’s claim that “even Palestine has a Coke factory” was met with harsh criticism. The Coca-Cola factory in question is located in the Atarot industrial zone in the occupied West Bank, an illegal Israeli settlement under international law.

Coca-Cola removes and then reuploads ad

Following the backlash, Coca-Cola Bangladesh temporarily removed the advertisement from its YouTube and Facebook pages for about five hours, though it was later reinstated with the comments section disabled. Despite the online outrage, the commercial continues to air on television.

A PR disaster

The main actor featured in the ad issued a statement on social media defending his stance as a staunch supporter of “humanity” and clarifying that his involvement was a strictly “professional” engagement.

X users, however, are not convinced. “Well it’s surprising to see a company actively worsen its PR game. The recent Coca-Cola Bangladesh advertisement is disturbingly off-putting. Gross. However, it appears the boycott is beginning to have an impact. A more fitting tagline would be: ‘Always leaving a bad taste’,” one user wrote.

The micro-blogging platform has been flooded with similar reactions.

People believed the ad has resulted in a renewed boycott.

Some Bangladeshi businesses have also responded to the Coca-Cola advertisement. An online shoe shop in Bangladesh released an ad showing a Coke bottle being kicked by a pair of their shoes.

Omar Nasif Abdullah, a lecturer of marketing at North-South University in Dhaka, criticised Coca-Cola for failing to understand the sentiments of the people. He described the new PR campaign as having the “wrong message and wrong approach,” calling it an unforgivable mistake in the competitive world of marketing, according to Al Jazeera.


Love for all Jun 13, 2024 06:18pm
It’s not people hate Coke or any other products as what going on in Gaza last eight months, killing of innocent civilians and children’s by Israeli Army, it’s unacceptable by all peace loving people around the world. Israel must end the war now now now please.
Shani Jun 13, 2024 06:27pm
Coke is not an Israeli company. Lets be clear on that. Coke was invented in the US and is an All American company. They have factories and customers all over the world yes.
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Jun 13, 2024 06:50pm
Liar, liar, house on fire.
Shezi Jun 13, 2024 09:04pm
Whatever, but all Muslims are requested to boycott all Israeli products strictly. Especially, gulf nations are requested to participate in this cause up to the hilt for a great cause.
Asad Jun 13, 2024 10:42pm
Boycott is more powerful weapon to stop the Gaza genocide.
hamza khan Jun 14, 2024 12:44am
Coke is not an Israeli product- its HQ in the US but does operate in Israel which is the reason for the boycott.
chipmonk33 Jun 14, 2024 12:56am
COMPLETE BOYCOTT of COKE and ALL of its related products all across South Asia will bring COKE on its knees. They all listen to the language of money, not of human rights.
Ron Jun 14, 2024 04:55am
Proud of Bangladeshi people and their stand to even boycott shops selling CC...
Naeem Jun 14, 2024 09:16am
This is how they get back at Israel? Nothing is going to happen if Abdul in Bangladesh stops drinking coke. You need some strong action like back in the day.
Naeem Jun 14, 2024 09:17am
Bangladesh, what have you to do in this conflict? Stay out, put your head down and get back to work, you have your economy to work on.
Junaid Jun 15, 2024 01:58am
Yes coke is an American company but they didn't issue any statement condemning he human rights violation and it's allied company burgers were offered to the soldiers of the aggressors.the least they could have done was a statement saying that we are A policial but they didnt.
mimi sur Jun 17, 2024 11:11am
Coke is a soft target . If you are really concerned, then don't send team to USA. Boycott You tube, Google, Oracle. Even this tweeter has USA-Isreali origin .
Rizwan Jun 20, 2024 05:06pm
Why don't such companies simply come out and address the criticism? Just say that you do not condone acts of barbaric colonialism, and that the Palestinian people have a right to an independent state.