Will Cross Adorn Coca-Cola Cans This Christmas?

The crescent moon and star — yes, the same symbol featured on the flags of so many Muslim countries — is an internationally-recognized symbol of the Islamic faith in much the same way as the cross represents Christianity and the star of David Judaism.  When I learned the symbol of the Islamic faith will appear on Coca-Cola packaging during Ramadan 2008, I found myself wondering whether or not the Atlanta-based soft drink maker will soon include the Christian cross and Jewish star of David in future holiday packaging designs targeting people of those faiths.

The firm selected by Coca-Cola to help interpret its brand across a number of events is ATTIK, according to Brand Republic.  Notable among those events are Ramadan, a Muslim religious observance that runs from Sept. 1-30, and Christmas 2008. [Note: I've found no evidence that the company plans to focus any efforts on Hanukkah or any other Jewish holiday.]

During Ramadan, the ATTIK design shown above will adorn packaging in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Morocco, Tunisia and other countries with a great many Muslims.

With hopes of finding out whether the Christian cross — instead of the penguins, polar bears and snow of recent years — will grace Coca-Cola packaging for Christmas 2008, I sent an e-mail to Roger Darnell at the firm’s San Francisco office at 11:52 a.m. (Central) today.  Six minutes later, he replied by telling me he had forwarded my inquiry to ATTIK’s marketing executive Vicky Hallam in the firm’s Leeds, England, office.  Excluding the salutation, my e-mail was worded as follows:

I’m a freelance writer and am pursuing an article on using religious symbols on commercial product packaging.  As I understand ATTIK.com was selected to design the 2008 Christmas packaging for Coca-Cola, I’m interested in learning whether or not Coca-Cola products distributed in predominantly-Christian countries will include Christian cross and Jewish star of David symbols in much the same manner as packaging of Coca-Cola products (which your firm designed) sold in predominantly-Muslim countries feature the crescent moon and star symbol representing Islam?

I sent a similar e-mail to Coca-Cola via their main web site’s “Contact Us” form, but truly doubt that I will receive a reply from either Coca-Cola or ATTIK during my lifetime.  You see, I fully expect that Vicky in Leeds will feel obligated to forward my inquiry to the public relations folks in Atlanta.  They, in turn, will opt to sit on the matter, hoping it will go away.

In either case, stay tuned as I will post an update(s) in this space if/when I receive a reply from either firm.

Hat tip: Adrants, an advertising industry blog.

* * *

UPDATE 8/19/08, 1 p.m. Central:  At 11:42 a.m. Central, I finally received a reply from from Coca-Cola in the form of this e-mail:

Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company.  We appreciate your interest in our Company.

Contacts related to media and public relations typically go through that department.  You may contact them directly at pressinquiries@na.ko.com, or via their hotline at 404.676.2683.

Industry and Consumer Affairs
The Coca-Cola Company

I replied by repeating my previous request in a message sent to the e-mail address provided and telling no-last-name Lesley this:

“I won’t say that I look forward to a prompt reply, since that did not happen.  I do, however, look forward to some sort of reply ASAP.”

Now, we wait again…

* * *

UPDATE 8/19/08, 3:30 p.m. Central“Carl in Jerusalem” has wrote and published a post about “Ramadan Coke” after linking to this post.  In part, he writes:

But I had a different question: Given that Coke contains caffeine, can Muslims drink Coke at all? After all, it has caffeine. The answer to that question does not seem very clear.

Click here to read the rest of his interesting post.

36 thoughts on “Will Cross Adorn Coca-Cola Cans This Christmas?

  1. Arabs will decide whether the use of this symbol on an American product during Ramadan bothers them. Coca Cola does use Santa Claus around Christmas.

  2. BA — Santa Claus isn’t a religious symbol. Rather, it ranks right up there with polar bears and penguins. The Christian cross is a religious symbol as is the crescent moon and star of Islam.

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  4. In coke tv ads I’m sure we see footage of snow covered churches as light filled trucks drive by?

    Another thing to point out reading similar articles is that the firm responsible has created a sort of guidelines ie each country will be able to choose what symbols to use in order to better suit their audience.

  5. It would offend Muslims to place a Christian symbol where it might come into there zone of influence . Jesus people turn the other cheek .

  6. Leeds is the city hub of towns like Bradford, Dewsbury & Beeston – basically Britain’s Deerborn, Michigan.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if they used the crescent for Xmas & Chanukah as well.

  7. Geez, I’m thinking of changing my choice of drink after this. And I put down at least 5 diet cokes a day! If they agree to put the cross on the cans then I might keep buying. If not, its diet Dr Pepper for me. (Can’t stand Pepsi) Or maybe diet Code Red. I drink a bunch of that too.

  8. Pingback: Coca-Cola To Honor Ramadan On Its Soda Cans » OpinionBug.com

  9. Christmas is still a sacred holiday? But it’s fictitious ain’t it?
    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

  10. James — Read John 3:16, from the New Testament, and you’ll find all the reasons you need to believe in the One True God. I encourage you to accept His gift — and soon!

  11. Pingback: Coca Cola, Typical Pluralistic (Except for Christianity) Company « Start Thinking Right

  12. Why the heck does it matter? Its funny seeing folks get all riled up over this. Corporations are in the business to MAKE MONEY. Coca Cola sees monetary value in such marketing. In the end it makes a US corporation that much stronger. Those who want to boycott, go ahead. Your impact will make little if any difference and Coke will continue to do what it believes is most profitable. Those who are “offended”, find something relevant to be offended over.

  13. Pingback: Coca Cola Ramadan « NUEVA EUROPA- Nueva Eurabia

  14. Christmas not a religious holiday????? It is “Christs” “Mass”. That is what it is and always has been.

  15. As a branding creative, I have to agree with The Pragmatist. Companies sell a product, and they position their messages in the way that they feel best connects to their audience. Attempting to read a political significance into those moves is pretty vapid. The success of their decisions is governed by the commercial reception of the design—i.e. does it increase sales in that region. If so, the shareholders are happy. There’s little else going on here.
    However, I will say from having worked with them frequently, Coca-Cola is an extremely diverse company at the leadership level. Also, Attik is a fantastic design firm (no affiliation there, just by reputation) and they deserve the accounts they get.

  16. I also sent Coca Cola an email and received (after days of waiting) a n0-answer response. Sent another one asking about putting a cross on at Christmas–alas, no reply.Guess they are hiding in the bunkers.

  17. You sent an email to a multinational corporation and got a reply within 6 minutes, then got another reply within 24 hrs and you are concerned that it took too long to get a reply? I get it. This is part of your humour section, right?

  18. Dan — I’ll type s-l-o-w-l-y since it appears you don’t comprehend all that well. The e-mail I got back from Coca-Cola was an auto-reply message. The e-mail I got back from the ad agency/design firm was just a pass-the-buck message. Now, what were you saying, Dan?

  19. JM, you’re wrong about Christmas being about Christ and Mass. Have you ever done a history of Christmas?

    It’s a pagan holiday, not Christian. The Catholics tried to convert the pagans to Christianity by turning the holiday into a so-called Christian holiday. What happened instead was that the pagans converted the Christians.

    If you wrap an orange peel around an apple, does the apple now become an orange? No.

    Likewise, if you wrap a Christian theme around a pagan holiday, does the pagan holiday become Christian? No.

    Once a pagan holiday, always a pagan holiday.

    It’s the Christians that need to go back to the basics of the Bible, and stop hijacking a holiday that has nothing to do with Christ. We were never told to celebrate His birthday, which by the way, did not happen in the winter.

  20. Coke is an American company and money is green. Sell what sells. Be Capitalists, and not hair splitters. Grow up and invest/trade/sell. Be Americans; don’t be thin skinned Frenchmen. Jeez , when did we become whinny little people?

  21. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about all of this is that in some countires (think Middle Eastern nations) seeing a religious symbol on a commercial product is seen as a positive to the consumer. The perception of the branding agency may be that use of a Christian symbol in a similar capacity in America is a negative thing or, at best, a hot potato they would rather not touch.

    America, for all of it’s bravado about tolerance tends to be rather intolerant of Christians and their views. People are narrow-minded if Muslims are excluded, yet separation of church and state — an interpretation, not a constitutional decree — is invoked at the slightest mention of anything Christian.

    Even Christmas, as evidenced here, is marginalized as “not a religious holiday.” As a Christian, I say baloney. Christmas is celebrated culturally and religiously as is Easter. They are not Santa and bunny focused, but Jesus focused in our home and in millions of homes across the world.

  22. It is unfortunate how the public perceives the symbols as being religious and that Muslims will buy products because they are embellished with such. You are confusing between accepted norms and religious symbols.

    First, the crescent moon and the star are depictions of the culture or the geographical region, which happens to be the middle east. Such images are predominant in the region and considered unique due to history of Arabia and not muslims.
    The west consider Santa in holidays like Christmas , and the Middle east considers a bright crescent moon and shimmering stars. Big deal! Coca-cola has a team of professionals ranging from cultural analysts, psychologists, researchers that have studied the idea before spending on the brand packaging. Coca-cola is and enthusiastic brad building a successful brand culture. They have simply used imagery in which the market can strongly relate to. It can create positive perception of the brand and increase brand equity bt not necessarily sales. Thus, get use to the auto. replies because your article is redundant for now displaying no sense of pragmatic comprehension, rather whining and immodesty.

    Please I strongly encourage you to refer to your analogies hotoffthepress,
    Christian cross symbol is to Allah symbol(religious), Santa clause or Easter eggs are to crescent moon and stars(accepted norms). Until you see any genuine religious symbols on packaging, then maybe your article can finally be relevant.
    For now continue making t-shirts.

  23. James- If you don’t want to accept John 3:16 then John 3:18 is the condition that you will remain in.
    “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe STANDS CONDEMNED ALREADY because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”
    We were born into this world dead(spiritualy seperated from God)(the consequence of sin).Christ took away the cause of spiritual death at the Cross once and for all, never to be seen by the eyes of God again, so that He could offer us His Life, the only solution to our condition. Salvation is being saved from the consequence of sin which is death by the gift of God which is eternal Life in Christ Jesus(Romans 6:23)(Romans 5:10). It’s not about how good we are or how bad we are, it’s about how dead we are and in need of Life! Come to the end of your rope, the end of your self sufficiency,a point of surrender and that’s where you find Jesus!

  24. Adman- I think you might be mistaken. The crescent moon and star is recognized as the symbol of the Muslim religion.

  25. So is the Christian Whining Brigade — the same folks who have peddling the bogus “war on Christmas” for the past several years and thinks it’s horribly offensive to acknowledge the existence of other faiths with the phrase “happy holidays” — going to get their panties in a bunch if Coke doesn’t use their religion’s symbol on its cans now? Ah, the lengths some people will go to in order to feel “persecuted.”

  26. crescent moon and star is not a symbol of Islam rather of the Islamic culture, look up all the flags of Muslim countries, most Arab countries wouldn’t have it on there flags but countries influenced by Turks or the ottoman empire will.

  27. I am surprised that no one brought up the fact that these cans would be released only in countries where the official religion is Islam and not in any country where separation of church and state exists. I mean for example this can would be released in a country like I don’t know lets say Kuwait, there everyone is a Muslim and no one will care, here in America or anywhere in Europe where it’s predominantly Christian if we put a Cross on the can Unfortunately in our countries the Liberals will protest and what not, but in Muslim countries they don’t have anyone opposing their views or suppressing their religion or separating state and church

  28. I think this comes down to what sells best. In an Islamic country the vast majority of people are well muslim. Whereas in the west, in the majority of cases, Christianity doesn’t have the same overall majority and Christmas is celebrated by those who would otherwise state they are non religious.

  29. Pingback: Coca Cola CEO panders to Muslim world « Creeping Sharia

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