Coca-Cola issued an apology and took off its “#BrutallyRefreshing” advertising campaign for Sprite after it sparked a major social media backlash Wednesday for its sexist and offensive nature.
The drinks giant launched the campaign, aimed primarily at a male audience, earlier this year and claimed it was “celebrating those with guts to tell it like it is.”
It included lines like “She’s seen more ceilings than Michelangelo,” “You’re not popular... you’re easy,” “A 2 at 10 is a 10 at 2,” and other blatantly degrading digs at women, which have been criticized as “slut-shaming,” a misogynistic practice stemming out of a patriarchal society.
BBC reported some of the past “truths” used in the campaign — “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.”
A Coca-Cola spokeswoman told BBC: “We’re sorry for any offence 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,” the spokesperson added. “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.”
Irish radio presenter Louise McSharry — with 14,900 followers on Twitter — played an important role in drawing attention to the controversial campaign.
In response to McSharry’s tweet, Paddy McKenna, editor of JOE.ie, apologized and disassociated the website from the advertisement. He said: “Anyone who has read the site knows that this does not reflect JOE’s brand values. It shouldn’t have been there and it was removed as soon as it was flagged.”
Twitter was abuzz with users in and outside Ireland criticizing the ad as misogynistic while many threatened to boycott the brand.