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Advertisers Target Saudi Women After Driving Decree

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Saudi Arabia Coca ColaWhen anything big, good or bad, happens in the world, you’ll be sure that brands will capitalize on it. After the royal decree in Saudi Arabia allowing women drivers beginning next June, car companies raced to congratulate their possible future customers, and since then other brands have joined in the chorus. But is it too much?

Every year I dread the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks because of all the companies making sure that everyone knows that they remember the tragedy, sometimes with super patriotic items for sale.  Brands congratulating Saudi women is hitting a similar nerve. While I appreciate companies recognizing a big civil rights victory like this, it can be hard to see beyond their own self-interest. Other observers, like Tanya Gold at GQ UK, seem to feel the same way. While many brands acknowledged the decree with a social media post, Coca-Cola has gone a step further, creating a commercial for that region. It depicts a woman being taught how to drive a manual transmission by a man, who places a bottle of Coke on the dashboard to encourage her to shift gears smoothly. Take a look at the video below.

In her article analyzing the commercial, Gold points out that Saudi Arabia still has a lot of civil rights issues, and celebrating the kingdom’s small step forward makes it seem as if everything is okay now.

My first question about this ludicrous advert, which cynically exploits the crimes of this absolute monarchy against its subjects, is: is it a series? Will there be a new Coca-Cola advert every time a change occurs? Will the thief who formerly would have lost his hand be, instead, slapped on the back and given a bottle of Coca-Cola? Will the enslaved foreign maid be given her passport, her wages, and a bottle of Coca-Cola? Will the gay man have his sentence of death cancelled, and be given a rainbow flag and a bottle of Coca-Cola?

While it is encouraging to see support for Saudi Arabia’s women and their newly gained rights, brands should think long and hard before they decide to comment on the issue.

News Source: GQ UK