Coca-Cola Ireland Omits Gay Marriage Scene from New Ad Campaign

A scene of a gay wedding ceremony, which features in the Dutch and Norwegian versions of a new Coca-Cola ad, but not in Ireland. [Image: Coca Cola Norway]

A scene of a gay wedding ceremony, which features in the new Coca-Cola ad in Norway, the Netherlands and the UK, but not in Ireland. [Image: Coca Cola Norway]

In an inexplicable move, Coca-Cola Ireland has omitted a scene depicting two men marrying from a new advert, which is part of a Europe-wide campaign.

The new advertising campaign, titled Reasons To Believe, is based on the concept that for every negative moment in life, there are many more positive ones taking place. In the main version of the advert – or rather, the version which is being used in other European countries – there is a scene where two men have just been married, and are surrounded by friends and family. In the Irish version of the new advert, however, no such scene exists.

To compare, below are the Dutch, Norwegian and British versions respectively of the new Reasons To Believe advertisement. The fourth video embedded is the version for Ireland.

This is the Irish version of the same advert:

Coca-Cola is one of the major sponsors of the controversial Sochi Winter Olympics, and the multinational company has already faced pressure from LGBT pressure group All Out for their involvement with the games, although the company decided to maintain the status quo despite meeting members of All Out to discuss LGBT rights in Russia.

At the time of writing (Saturday night) Coca-Cola Ireland’s offices in Dublin were closed, and therefore no comment could be obtained regarding the differences in the adverts. This story will be updated on Monday morning.

Hat tip to Wolfgang Schmitt

UPDATE: Dec 30: This story has been updated, showing the Coca-Cola spokesperson’s statement to be untrue

UPDATE @ 19:20: Since our article this morning, TheJournal.ie this afternoon has quoted an unnamed spokesperson for Coca Cola as saying that the omission was because Ireland still only has civil partnership, whereas they quote the United Kingdom as having equal marriage.

This, however, is untrue, as only two of the four countries within the UK – i.e. England and Wales – have equal marriage. The other two, Scotland and Northern Ireland, still only have civil partnership, yet the British version of the advert is being shown in both of those countries as well, so does not seem to us as being “relevant and valid for its own market[s]“.

About Scott De Buitléir

Scott De Buitléir is an author and poet from Dublin, Ireland. He is founder of EILE Magazine, a digital publication for the Irish LGBT community, and has published several works of poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. He lives in Cork with his partner.

40 comments on “Coca-Cola Ireland Omits Gay Marriage Scene from New Ad Campaign

  1. Uafásach. An bhfuilimid sna seachtodaí fós? Seafoid dochreidte.

  2. This is absolutely scandalous! Shame shame on Coca Cola Ireland! No wonder I don’t buy Coca cola products.

  3. I think it’s quite an explicable move… Like it or not, there’s still a strong undercurrent of bigoted, ignorant people especially in Roman Catholic rural Ireland. It makes sense for Coca-Cola to play it safe — why would they have any desire to rock the boat and possibly [adversely] affect their sales?

    • @jp: The point you have made is valid in a certain sense. Turning toward the bigger picture I doubt the loss incurred to Coca-Cola if Irish bigots stopped buying their products is in any way a match to the boat-rocking which a filthy rich international company could – and indeed should – be part of. It’s not as if they will have to shut down due to loss of profit and thus whatever aspect of altruism may be present it certainly isn’t an overly idealistic concept. Money cannot be an excuse for this deliberate censorship and I bet you they would lose a hell of a lot more cash if LGBT people retaliated in an embargo on Coca-Cola products. Why should international LGBT citizens continue to purchase them even if it is only the Irish that have been discriminated against?

    • I live in Ireland and my boyfriend lives in rural Ireland. He received more wholehearted and genuine support from his friends and neighbours when he came out than I have ever seen before. Generalisations about bigotry in rural Ireland are seldom true. There is bigotry everywhere: no more so in Ireland than anywhere else, and no more so in rural Ireland than urban areas.

  4. Gay marriage is legal in Norway, the Netherlands and the UK. It isn’t in Ireland. Showing a picture of a civil ceremony in the Irish ad would only draw attention to a current injustice and inequality. The marriages are used in the other ads to celebrate something. This kind of stuff shouldn’t be “inexplicable” for a journalist.

    • Hi Paul,

      First of all, “Gay marriage” isn’t legal in the UK, that’s a misnomer. Equal marriage is only legal in England and Wales, while Scotland and Northern Ireland – like the Republic of Ireland – still has civil partnership only. Therefore, your point, while I understand where you’re coming from, is flawed. If the UK version has it, by your logic, then the ad would not be shown in Scotland or NI.

      That is why it’s “inexplicable” for this journalist.

      • It’s marketing. Ireland has a much smaller population… so the same factors behave quite differently here than they would in the U.K. It’s just in where it’s in to make money and out where it’s out, to make money.

        It would be far more likely that in Ireland it would be seen as a cynical ploy to use same sex marriage in a mercenary way. Also as same sex marriage is really coming onto the horizon this year, the timing would be dubious.

  5. Coca-Cola, used the scene after looking a research an advertising impact reports…. they do not care about gay marriage at all. They don’t care about anything but how their adds effect their sales!

    The gay marriage scene was pulled here, by them, from market research studies. Personally taping into something that cannot happen here yet, could be seen as insensitive and trying to be controversial using an important issue to people in a frivolous way. THis would not be the case where same sex marriage was established already.

    @ JP To presume this has to do with the catholic church and anger at the scene is ridiculous. Especially when you look at attitudes to same sex marriage amount Irish people, it is very much supported. Especially in the soft drink demographic. So JP you right it is easy enough to understand, but you are so wrong and reactionary you have shown you are not really capable of that. So many people are projecting their own angers and perceptions onto this that it makes you wonder how people would react to the add with the scene in it.

    THe add is soft and non controversial. To put a same sex marriage seen in it would break that tone and could be seen, as I have said, insensitive and a cynical way to get attention, using and issue that is very important and emotive many some people.

    Why do people have a difficulty understanding that?

  6. Gay marriage is legal in the Netherlands, the UK and Norway. It is not in Ireland.

    The Irish ad has clearly been heavily edited to show Irish scenes, so therefore an image of gay marriage would be anatopic to Ireland.

    I think Coca-Cola could have managed this better and foreseen any criticism, but I don’t believe that it was informed by homophobia.

  7. I saw this add this morning on some English Channel and it brought a smile to my face, however, having read this I’m extremely annoyed!

  8. Lets not get too excited here. They didn’t “omit” the footage, they simply used different footage. Unless we’re seeing articles in Norway, the UK and Holland saying “Coca Cola omits heterosexual marriage (or whatever the term for marriage between members of the opposite sex) scene from new ad campaign” then this is just another case of making an issue where there shouldn’t be one. Advertising campaigns differ from country to country. they “omitted” the footage of the tanks too…

    I’m all for equal rights in marriage for everyone, regardless of sexual preference etc, but lets not get the pitchforks out just yet for Coca Cola

  9. really disappointing, shameful and most of all backward.

  10. Do we know which version is being used in Northern Ireland?

    • The UK version is being used in NI, the Irish version is only for the Republic.

    • Jurisdictions don’t really end and start at lines of states necessarily. You can be sure that one of the most developed and expert p.r. and marketing people, have reasons for making decisions like these.

      They may have done it for one, or a number of reasons… it may not even be an exclusion if the add has multiple variations in different areas. Then it would be a piece they just decided not to include.

      Personally, I have to say, this sort of journalism is all too typical of what we see a reasonable and informative.

      The fact is, this article contains to limited an amount of facts to make an informed decision on it’s reasoning. But surely the author knew it would be taken as in some way homophobic or based in homophobia. Even though their target market is in an age range that is very supportive of same sex marriage.

      I think we should ask ourselves, what would the reaction, if any, be to the scene being included/not excluded? how would people respond. personally I can’t see myself having much of a reaction to it … maybe thinking it was nice to see the scene being included as just another part of life.

      But maybe, coke saw a lot of people would not see it like that and see it as a deliberate action to be controversial. Which I think we can all agree would be wrong. We need to be realistic, there was no moral decision or prejudice that decided coke’s “mind” on this.

      They produced and realised the add with the gay men’s marriage scene in it. So that seems positive toward same sex marriage… but some people say boycott them for not including it here in Ireland!? That is ridiculous.

      No matter what we can say, the add is viewed with the marriage part in far more places and by far more people, than not, through it not being in the Irish version.

      One thing comes through clear is, some people react without thinking.

  11. Ok, in the sample adds here, they are all different, there is no standard add. They tailor them for each place.

    Why is everyone focussing on the same sex marriage bit. There is a marriage bit in the Irish add that is in non of the other areas. The coloured woman and white man.

    So when Scott sees a umber of adds that ALL are slightly different ALL he sees is “Coca-Cola Ireland Omits Gay Marriage Scene from New Ad Campaign”!!!! In the marriage scene they have a coloured woman and a white man, not two men, would be the honest and less sensational way to put it.

    So the videos Scott includes show that his focus is prejudiced and then add the fact coca-cola apparently said as reported in the journal.ie “this afternoon has quoted an unnamed spokesperson for Coca Cola as saying that the omission was because Ireland still only has civil partnership, whereas they quote the United Kingdom as having equal marriage.”

    If this is the reason, the just made a mistake and had what they thought been true their decision would have been right!

    This has shown up eile, journalism and some gay rights people very badly.

    • Hi Daniel,

      As we’ve already stated in the update, Coca-Cola uses an invalid argument to justify the omission as it is only England and Wales that have marriage equality, not the entire UK. Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t yet have marriage equality (only civil partnership, like Ireland), yet the ads are being shown there.

      • Thanks for responding Scott, but again, you have no point when you say “As we’ve already stated in the update, Coca-Cola uses an invalid argument to justify the omission….” Know one is questioning the legality by jurisdiction of same sex marriage.

        I said the same in my post, “If this is the reason, the just made a mistake and had what they thought been true their decision would have been right!”. So your response doesn’t address what I said. In fact it makes out I said something I didn’t.

        If they did it for this reason, in ignorance of the actual law, would omitting that bit for a inter racial couple’s marriage have been homophobic? If they made a mistake.

        Simply, if they removed the same sex marriage seen from the Irish add because they thought it was not legal here… would you have a problem with it?

        The response they gave actually is saying, if they had known their facts they would have left it in.

        Really Scott, don’t use your position so irresponsibly.

    • I actually can’t believe you said “coloured” woman

  12. It´s a global brand. Gay marriage is a big new in the whole world. Maybe they shoudn´t be in the fridge, but in the closet.

  13. Scott,
    an alternative quick fire argument for there explanation that they used the add because same sex marriage is legal in the UK could simply be they are appealing to the largest audience possible with minimal effort, therefore with England having the largest body of people who live in the UK it would make sense for the add to appeal to them, so from a simple marketing perspective they did the job right, and besides since when did we start believing what the corporations tell us, it’s all lies, everyword :P it’s not a serious thing to get mad about.

  14. As someone who is an advocate for equality for all people including marriage rights, I applaud Coca-Cola actually portraying the both gay and interracial marriages where they thought it would get through the censors.

    Ireland is still not a good place to be LGBT, In the past few years, my partner who is a stunningly beautiful transgender woman, has faced discrimination, harassment, imprisonment and mental torture at the hands of the Garda when they found out “what” she was.

    In my experience, this is still a country where even interracial marriage is just being accepted. For the record my partner and I were at the cinema when the Irish version of the ad ran, and when the “interracial” marriage scene came up the theatre got quiet. Sadly, I don’t think an image of LGBT marriage would have faired as well.

    Don’t forget that about 20 years ago in Ireland we had few minorities, no condoms, and no divorce. This current generation is really the first to begin accept interracial marriage and are just starting to understand that those of us in the LGBT community are people too.

    While I wish we were bathing in the rainbow of light that is equality, the reality is that Ireland is one of the last EU countries to come out of the dark ages.

  15. Just wondering why my comment hasn’t been posted, I basically made the same point as a number of other posters such as M Scammel. There was absolutely nothing rude or offensive in my comment. I’ve checked my spam/junk mail and don’t see anything from you explaining your reason. Very bad form.

    • Hi Niall,

      Your comment was not published as you made the last sentence personal against the journalist concerned, who actually reported the facts. It is our policy to only publish comments that address the article(s) in a measured way. If you’d like to re-submit the comment without the last sentence, your comment will be published.

      Features Ed.

      • The last sentence wasn’t unmeasured, it was, “Maybe the journalist should try and report on issues that do matter.”.- not a personal attack on the journalist, just a personal view on the article, but due to censorship, this I presume will not be published. Best wishes.

  16. […] LGBT publication Eile.ie said that the ad campaign titled Reasons To Believe, leaves the scene out of the Irish version of […]

  17. I may be full Irish, but I’m damn glad I was born, and live, in California! We don’t have that problem here. People do what they wish. And here the media is NOT censored! I would never live in an oppressed part of the world where I could not be myself, and to live in a place that is ran by a church and a bunch of angry people. Why would anyone? It sucks that NI is the way that it is, but if you don’t like it there, and the people running it are going to censor what you see and believe, then California would be glad to have you! Just as you are!

    • Hi Sebastian, I’m sorry to read your negative views on Ireland and I’m not really sure what your comment really has to do with the issue of Coca-Cola choosing to omit the civil partnership scene in favour of an inter-racial marriage scene for the Irish market. The Irish government did not censor the ad, the US company, Coca-Cola did.

      The media (as far as I’m aware) is not censored in Ireland to any greater extent than the US, people here have as much freedom as other western countries and Ireland is run by a democratically elected government and not a church or a bunch of angry people. I am in a civil partnership in Ireland and don’t feel I need to hide it from anyone and hopefully equal marriage will come into effect following the referendum here in 2015.

  18. French version do not include gay marriage scene as well, even though marriage equality was obtained this year 2013 in France. : http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x18osqo_pub-coca-cola-des-raisons-d-y-croire-2013-hq_creation

  19. Unless I’m mistaken, the vast majority of channels available in the UK are UK-wide. Therefore, with the exception of the few channels targeted at specific countries in the UK, it’s not really possible to target adverts in the way suggested. That does weaken the ‘But they show it in NI/Scotland’ argument, doesn’t it?

    • Actually Zachary, although costly, it is possible for UK-wide stations to regionalise their advertising. For example, Sky are able to show ads in England only and not Wales, Scotland and NI, if their client requests. BBC and ITV are the most used to advertising regionalisation, as they have numerous regional stations across the UK.

  20. Shame on you Coca cola

  21. […] LGBT-focused EILE Magazine, which brought the issue to light, called the company’s response disingenuous. The magazine noted that the wedding footage is […]

  22. So we just discovered the “controversy” over the Coca Cola commercial we are featured in. This is ridiculous! I cant believe gay rights groups have the nerve to go so crazy over the fact that the gay couple’s wedding scene was “SWAPPED OUT” of the Irish, French and Dutch ad’s and “replaced” with an interracial wedding. First of all, the other couple was not “Replaced” by us as we were contacted by Coca Cola well before long before the commercial went to air and we were told we would be featured in the Irish version as well as multiple other countries. Also If you took the time to watch all of the Reasons To Believe commercials airing over Europe you would see that in every single commercial different scenes have been “Replaced” to make each commercial slightly different and the scene wasn’t “replaced” it is merely a slightly different commercial that bares the same positive message of LOVE. A message that states that ALL LOVE IS EQUAL and that love conquers the barriers of gender and race. You don’t hear us or advocates for Interracial relationships protesting over the fact that the Interracial scene was “Replaced” in some countries with the gay marriage scene nor are we upset over the fact that the gay marriage scene was actually featured on more of the commercials than the interracial marriage scene (while on that topic why do we have to be labeled as the interracial couple and the gay couple why cant we just be couples!?!?!). Instead we are proud to have been a part of such an inspirational and positive ad campaign and happy for the other couple who featured in the advert in place of us as Im sure they are happy for us too.

    Interracial couples have had to fight for the right to be respected and we still sadly do struggle with racism and negativity due to our love in this day and age and we feel that the way people are acting over this issue is really taking away from the struggles interracial couples all over the world have gone through. Very few interracial couples are featured on TV and when they are, just like the now famous Cheerio’s commercial they are faced with controversy. A large part of the reason we decided to make Youtube videos and share our life with the world was to show the world how normal interracial couples are because we feel we are so misrepresented in the media. You would think Gay Rights groups who have faced similar prejudice to that of interracial couples would be happy to stand with us instead of against us in a fight for a more accepting world.

    Rant over….. But these articles made us annoyed!!!!

    Jamie and Nikki.

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