Atlanta-based Coca-Cola is in hot Dasani. The soft drink giant pulled a social media campaign related to the 2014 Sochi Olympics that allegedly prevented users from typing the word “gay” on customizable Coke cans but allowed the use of the word “straight.”
If a user of the campaign typed in the word “gay,” a message would reportedly appear that said, “Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just type that.”
This isn’t the first incident that Coca-Cola has been involved in recently that angered the LGBT community. An official Olympic security guard emblazoned with a Coca-Cola logo tackled a man who unfurled a rainbow flag during the Olympic torch run.
This year’s Olympics have been a source of controversy due to Russia’s passage of a bill banning what it calls “gay propaganda,” and sponsors and all those associated with the Games have been caught up in the net as a result.
Here is Coca-Cola’s official statement regarding the social media campaign snafu:
Our “Share A Coke” promotion, which is running in several markets around the globe, is intended to allow people to take the Coca-Cola script and replace it with their name on the can. Unfortunately, in South Africa, the digital version of the “Share a Coke” promotion did not limit the customization to individuals’ names. Specifically, the name and message auto-generator on our South Africa “Share A Coke” website would not accept the word “Gay”, but did accept the word “Straight”. This isn’t how the program was supposed to work, and we’ve pulled the site down until we can fix the problem.
We apologize for this mistake. As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, we value and celebrate diversity. We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion, equality and diversity through both our policies and practices.
More than 700,000 Coca-Cola system associates get up every morning determined to make the world a happier place and, when errors like this happen, we take it seriously. Thank you for raising this with us, and we’ll get it fixed.