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Coca-Cola Co. has apologized for a blatantly sexist Sprite online ad that ran on Irish men’s lifestyle site JOE.ie as part of the soft drink’s irreverent #BrutallyRefreshing campaign.
Lines such as “She’s seen more ceilings than Michelangelo,” “You’re not popular, you’re easy” and “A 2 at 10 is a 10 at 2!” shocked consumers, who took to social media to vent their anger.
Cristiana De Lia tweeted “Seriously @Sprite? Need to revise your internal policies. This ain’t #BrutallyRefreshing but only #BrutallyOffensive.”
Coca-Cola said in a statement:”We’re sorry for any offense caused by the #BrutallyRefreshing Sprite campaign in Ireland, which was intended to provide an edgy but humorous take on a range of situations. Since its introduction in Ireland, Sprite has been associated with individuality and self-expression and we have always been committed to ensuring we deliver the highest standard of advertising.”
“We recognize that on this particular occasion the content did not meet this standard and we apologize. The campaign has now come to an end and the advert in question will not appear again.”
The campaign asked consumers to share their “refreshing truths” using the hashtag #BrutallyRefreshing.
Coca-Cola and Thinkhouse, an Irish youth marketing agency that works for Sprite and other Coca-Cola brands, did not respond to inquiries about whether Thinkhouse was responsible for the work. A press release about an earlier part of the #BrutallyRefreshing campaign involving Irish Snapchat stars cited Thinkhouse.
That previous installment featured two Snapchat stars in an online video discussing “refreshing truths” such as, “We all have one tight friend,” “One dip is never enough” and, “If you have to give your taxi driver directions you’re better off walking.”
At the time of the ad’s launch, Sprite brand manager Georgina Kendrick said in a statement: “At Sprite, we share the same belief that honesty is the best weapon, and we’re delighted to celebrate the brutally refreshing truth – and hear what our fans come up with.”
Sexism in the ad industry has made headlines all week. Saatchi & Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts resigned on Wednesday morning after controversial comments on gender diversity in the ad industry. Meanwhile Gap in the U.K. apologized for an ad that portrayed little girls as social butterflies and little boys as budding Einsteins.