Always Coca Cola? Apparently not.

Today I was sorely disappointed by them. Actually, I’m more than disappointed. I’m appalled and even horrified at the possible ramifications of a recent music video advertisement of theirs.

Earlier today I clicked on a link in my Facebook timeline to watch a video advertisement for Israel’s Coca Cola’s summer music hit. The tune was “Summer Together” by Nadav Geudj. It was a catchy tune, with a beat I can see catching on, especially with Israel’s youth.

As I watched the video, my enjoyment slowly turned to astonishment and anger at the irresponsible subconscious message that was being portrayed. The video was all about having fun and enjoying yourself with your friends and part of that enjoyment involved cruising around in a vintage convertible free as a bird and with no seatbelts. As an ex Emergency Room nurse my immediate reaction was what the heck is wrong with Coca Cola????

Companies, especially big established brands have a responsibility. That’s just the way it is. With the limelight and the profits comes the sometimes uncomfortable, oftentimes tiring job of making sure you’re doing the right thing.

To air an advertisement that glorifies the apparent fun and freedom of cruising with no seatbelts is irresponsible and even dangerous. In one fell swoop it unravels years of driving safety education and advocacy on the part of organizations here in Israel such as Or Yarok.

Seatbelts are life savers. I don’t think anyone will debate me on that point. Israelis, on the whole, are very conscious of buckling up. For years the radio played non-stop advertisements every hour before the news updates, drilling it into everyone’s heads that you don’t start driving until everyone is strapped in.

Coca Cola is perceived worldwide as a strong responsible brand, not a careless one. That’s what makes this whole incident doubly shocking. How did they allow an advertisement to air with such a dangerous message woven into the story line? “Fun means just do what you feel like.” “You’re young, no harm can come to you.” 

I took to Facebook and Twitter to voice my anger at the dangerous message being spread, hopefully inadvertently, by Coca Cola. Within a relatively short time I received a message on Facebook from the head of the advertising agency that produced the video. He explained to me that the video was shot safely in accordance with all the laws. He explained that the car used in the video was a 1968 vintage collector’s car and as such had no seatbelts in it and according to the law passengers are allowed to drive in the car without seatbelts. He also promised that by tomorrow morning they would add that explanation as part of the clip.

I appreciated the fact that he contacted me but I’m no less appalled and still extremely unhappy at the level of irresponsibility that this ad displays. For crying out loud, find a car with seatbelts, or add seatbelts. Youngsters internalize what they see, they don’t care about explanations, they are too busy to read clarifications at the bottom of a cool music video. This music video is a dangerous precedent.

Coca Cola has accompanied generations of youth and have always known how to attract followers. Do they really think that irresponsible advertising is the only way to attract attention? This time, they messed up.

Coca Cola, make it real! How are you going to fix this?