Coca-Cola has launched a new campaign to discourage stereotyping and prejudice. In time for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, the beverage giant will remove labels from its soda cans throughout the Middle East.
The company explained its rationale behind the campaign in a statement: "In a time when equality and abolishing prejudices is a hot topic for discussion around the world, how does one of the leading brands like Coca-Cola join in the conversation? In the Middle East, during the month of Ramadan, one of the world's most well-known labels has removed its own label, off its cans, in an effort to promote a world without labels and prejudices."
The no-label cans feature one blank side and one side reading: “Labels are for cans, not for people.”
“It takes 7 seconds to build a prejudice based on someone’s appearance,” begins a video on the campaign released by the company last week. The video depicts six men discussing their interests and commonalities in a dark room. When the lights are turned on, a diverse looking group is revealed: a man with facial tattoos, two men in traditional Arab dress, a man in a wheelchair, and two men in Western business and casual outfits.
“I imagined the guy sitting in front of me to look so Arab,” says one of the men in an interview following the experience. Instead, a Caucasian-looking man in a Western t-shirt and shorts sits before him.
“It’s obvious, we shouldn’t judge people by their looks,” says another participant in the video. “Remove labels this Ramadan,” implores the video’s English title. In Arabic, the title asks viewers to “See people with your heart this Ramadan.”
Coca-Cola isn’t the first brand to encourage an expansion of societal roles beyond stereotype. Last year, lines of toys from Mattel and LEGO, and campaigns such as Always’ #LikeAGirl, encouraged young girls to forgo limiting gender roles and fulfill their full potential; while a 2013 Pantene campaign in the U.S. and the Philippines highlighted the dichotomy of gender labels and urged women to “Be Strong and Shine.”