The Next Economy
NGO Asking Coke to Spend Its $3B Ad Budget on Saving the Rainforest Instead

Hey Coca-Cola, how about redirecting your advertising budget for a year to help save the planet?

That is the ask of the group Buy the World a Hope, an “independent group of people who believe that there must be new ways to substantially help the world, to work with the system and benefit the planet.”

Buy the World a Hope aims to revolutionize marketing. Its website, available in 15 languages, asks visitors to sign an open letter to the CEO of Coca-Cola, urging the company to quit its $3 billion advertising spending budget for one year and direct that money toward protecting rainforests.

“83 percent of global consumers say they will change what they buy if that brand makes the world a better place,” the video continues.

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Given that Coca-Cola’s brand vision for 2020 is to combine business and planet, Buy the World a Hope suggests the company “put their money where their vision is” by forgoing advertising for a year and investing in world land trusts to preserve rainforests.

“This might just be the most compelling brand story ever told,” says the video. It also suggests Coca-Cola could gather famous musicians to spread word of its conservation work throughout the year, and together remake the famous 1971 ad. This time it would be set in the Amazon.

Buy the World a Hope is supported by the Amsterdam NGO Good Things, according to Haft2. The group chose Coca-Cola because of its motto of spreading happiness and building community.

But will Coca-Cola comply?

Gareth Broadbent, lead creative behind the Hope campaign, told campaign: "It’s easy to think of reasons why they wouldn’t. Quitting advertising for a year could sound like brand suicide to some. But even without advertising, people will still ask for a Coke at the bar or in a store.

"You’ll still see the Coke brand merchandising at point of sale, on Coke lorries and vending machines. And if we follow our campaign structure, top-of-mind awareness could actually increase through the use of music videos and initial advertisement."

Ed Gillespie, co-founder of Futerra, said: "It would take an extremely courageous CEO to make this call, although it’s not impossible. I can imagine the furor of panicked shareholders, but the publicity that such a superficially crazy move could generate would probably more than compensate. The business pages alone would be in apoplexy."

Creative, eye-catching campaigns to change organizations’ behavior and motivate public involvement in social issues are popping up around the globe. Last month, the Dutch AIDS Foundation encouraged people to purchase antidotes to their “first world problems” and WWF Australia displayed creative demonstrations of how to replace chemical-laden products with its just campaign. On the more comical side, comedian Nick Offerman appeared in an ad for the American Heart Association poking fun at unhealthy school lunches, while Ben and Jerry’s partnered with the Guardian to launch the multimedia comedy series “Too Hot to Handle,” to engage the public on climate change issues.

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