Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
On June 29th, Skopje hosted its first ever Pride Parade. This would probably be a very common information elsewhere, but when speaking of North Macedonia, a pretty much conservative country towards differences in general, but at the same time with people who openly defy taboos and conformism, Skopje’s Pride Parade was one of the most popular topics in the hot month of June.
For many years, LGBTQI community and the overall topic of freely expressing and embracing ones’ own sexual orientation is a theme over which people are divided. This event came as a cherry on top and sparkled conversation, opinions, speculations, everyone had something to say. The openly negative and hate speech, especially on social media, raised the question on how could this negative local wording describing the LGBTQI people be used, but leveraged in a positive manner to show love, care and support for the community?
Before we reveal the result, let’s start from the challenge: there is the client – The Coca-Cola Company, a company leader in its efforts for inclusiveness, bringing people together and proud of its history of supporting and including the LGBTQI community in the workplace, in its advertising and in communities throughout the world; there is the agency – McCann Skopje, an agency that feels the creativity is limitless and there is small North Macedonia – a country often known as not very open to “non-standard” possibilities.
What was actually done?
The main insight of the idea lied exactly in the roots of the North Macedonian society. As most Macedonian population has negative attitude towards the LGBTQI community, they also often use slang and jargon words with negative tone to label activists and LGBTQI people. One of the most commonly used word describing this population is “opposite” or “reverse”, referring to them as different, as “not normal”, or the very least, as “odd”.
So, having Coca-Cola as a client, which has inclusivity at the heart of the company, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation, the task was not so difficult after all, McCann say. Hence, the Company used this negative tone of voice and transformed it into a positive message, once again demonstrating its commitment to supporting diversity around the world, including North Macedonia.
McCann Skopje’s Growth Director, Ms. Irina Maja, says that in such cases, where we sometimes have societal biases and strong convictions, the responsibility for making a change remains for the big brands that have the power to speak out loud about individuality, acceptance, belonging, inclusiveness, diversity and above all UNIVERSAL LOVE.
“In a traditional society, where we have numerous cases where people are labeled on any grounds, the courage for such communication is delicate, but at the same time more than necessary. McCann believes that creativity has no boundaries, it involves fearlessness, but it also has an obligation to create great meanings and play an important role in people’s lives”, said Irina Maja.
Actually, exclusively for the Pride Parade in Skopje, Coca-Cola brought a Pride dedicated limited edition bottle with a special label where Coca-Cola logo was reversed or the other way around and it carried “reverse” message instead of its classic “ORIGINAL TASTE” claim, proudly saying: LOVE IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT WAY (ЉУБОВТА Е СЕКОГАШ ИСПРАВНА). The message had a “mirror effect”, meaning in order to read the words normally, you would simply have to look the label of the Coca-Cola bottle in the mirror. In addition, the word “LOVE” („ЉУБОВ“) was written in rainbow colors and the bar-code was rainbow too!
“Coca-Cola is globally perceived as one of the most inclusive brands, which is a recognition we are particularly proud of. Pride is an event that promotes concepts that we generally support globally, which are: celebrating universal love, love that unites people, love independent of prejudices and labels, encouraging coexistence and unity” said Andreea Dragan, Marketing Manager Sparkling Portfolio, Serbia & North Macedonia. “These concepts have always been in the genetic code of the Coca-Cola brand. The partnership for this event is one of the many around the world that are part of Coca-Cola initiatives for an inclusive society, because we believe in the values of diversity as an incentive for positive energy and new opportunities.”, said Martin Atanasovski, SSD Brand Manager for North Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro.
“The idea for the communication, in fact, was inspired from the everyday life, where, besides other homophobic expressions, the statement ‘reversed’ or “the other way around” is used in order to discriminate a person belonging to the LGBTI community. The seemingly simple turning of the Coca-Cola label with the powerful message allows the entire brands’ philosophy to be transmitted, but with complete local relevance. The deeper analysis and the look in the mirror echoes even further, that is, helping people to see themselves in a mirror looking at the real ME, which is one of the messages on the Parade itself”, explains Ms. Maja and concludes that an inclusive culture that through its powerful voices spread brands like Coca-Cola, contributes to creating an ethos of belonging, connectivity and a common goal.
What is Coca-Cola actually saying is that LOVE IS LOVE! TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN, FLIP IT OVER, CALL IT DIFFERENT OR THE OTHER WAY AROUND, BUT IT WILL ALWAYS BE LOVE! BECAUSE LOVE IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT WAY!