The Coca-Cola Company is defending itself after receiving criticism from gay activists for cutting a gay marriage scene from a new television commercial in Ireland.
The beverage company is the latest to be targeted by gay activists, who also recently attempted to get hit reality TV show Duck Dynasty dropped from the A&E network after one of its stars, Phil Robertson, said in an interview that he believed the Bible labeled homosexuality a sin.
Coca-Cola is currently airing a series of television commercials throughout Europe for its new "Reasons to Believe" campaign. The campaign's purpose is to inspire viewers by showing that for every negative situation in life there is an equally positive experience. The commercial includes a sequence of negative experiences, such as losing a wrestling match or public vandalism, juxtaposed with positive situations, such as a mother frosting a cake or people dancing to live music.
Most versions of the new commercial, including the Dutch, Norwegian and British versions, end by showing a same-sex couple getting married. The Irish version, however, ends by showing an interracial couple walking down the aisle with a caption: "For every display of hatred, there are 5,000 celebrations of love."
The decision to replace the gay marriage scene with a marriage scene for an inter-racial couple saw gay activists quickly take to the Internet to criticize the drinks company.
Coca-Cola became a trending term on Twitter in Ireland as people from both sides weighed in on the criticism.
A spokesperson for the beverage company told Ireland's TheJournal.ie that the company did not include an image of a same-sex couple in Ireland's version of the commercial because same-sex marriage has yet to be legalized in the country, and each commercial is catered specifically to the country where it is being aired. For example, the U.K. version of the commercial includes a referee holding up a red card at a soccer match while the Irish version shows a St. Patrick's Day celebration.
"The core objective is that the vignettes in the ad resonate with people in each country and that they are truly representative of cultural issues that they are familiar with and value," the spokesperson said. "You will note for example that the St. Patrick's Day scene is only included in the Irish version as it is only here that it is truly relevant from a cultural perspective."
"As you rightly say, the wedding images used in the ad for the UK and in other parts of Europe show two men getting married. The reason that this was changed for Ireland is that while civil partnership for gay people is legal, gay marriage currently is not. This will be the subject of a referendum [in 2015]," the spokesperson added.
"We wanted each ad to be relevant and valid for its own market," they added.
The explanation by the drinks company has been deemed reasonable by most, however, many gay activists have continued to push for the gay marriage scene to be put back in despite same-sex marriage not being legal in Ireland.
Jerry Buttimer, an openly gay politician for Ireland's Fine Gael political party, has been one person calling on the Coca-Cola company to reinstate the image of two men marrying in the Irish version of their new Reasons to Believe ad campaign.
"I would be advocating that they should reinstate that part of the ad," Buttimer told the Mirror. "Coke [has] been behind some great advertising campaigns before. So they shouldn't be marginalizing or alienating or discriminating against any person on the island."
Some activists have also extended the criticism against Coca-Cola, slamming the company for agreeing to be a major sponsor of the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Despite Coca-Cola being a common sight among major sponsors at past Olympics and other major sporting events, gay activists have argued the commpany should boycott the Russia Winter Olympics as the nation recently passed new legislation to stop homosexual propoganda being imposed on minors. Gay activists have jumped on the new legislation to criticize the country, although others have come out saying that activists in other nations should respect Russia's choice to govern itself with its own laws.
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee has expressed its full confidence in Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games. The committee previously said in a statement that it was "fully satisfied" with Russia's laws regarding homosexuality.