The above Coca Cola ad image used in the window of a shop in Bremen, Germany, which features Tibetan monks with the caption “Make it real” has come under the spotlight lately, as Chinese netizens question if the company supports Tibetan independence. From Guardian Unlimited:
First Tibetan exile groups attacked Coca-Cola for sponsoring the Olympic torch relay. Now the soft drink company is under fire from the other side of the political divide – with Chinese nationalists boycotting the brand after a blogger claimed one of its adverts supported Tibetan independence.
The poster – spotted in a German railway station – shows Buddhist monks on a rollercoaster with the slogan: “Make it real”. It stirred the ire of an expatriate Chinese blogger, who posted a photograph on the popular Tianya website. “Germany has started to really show adverts for Tibetan independence. Coca-Cola! Okay, I will remember. From now on I will not touch this shitty product,” he wrote, “The three monks represent Tibetan lamas. They are riding a rollercoaster, which represents freedom. ‘Make it real’ means ‘make this [ie freedom] real’,” he added.
And here’s the formal statement Coca Cola sent to the Global Times 《环球时报》:
Recently, certain Chinese bloggers and forums carried a photo of a Coca-Cola advertisement. That advertisement was part of the 2003 series with the theme of “Make It Real” to promote sales in Germany. The theme was to encourage people to try new things and enjoy life. The series contains more than a dozen different advertisements featuring people from different walks of life enjoying themselves in different situations.
This advertisement did not contain any political or religious background and it is unrelated to Tibet independence. We regret that this old advertisement should become misunderstood by certain Chinese bloggers and forum users who were not aware of its background. We respect the feelings of Chinese consumers. This old advertisement at the Bremen train station has been taken down on the same day.
Coca-Cola is an apolitical organization, and one of the accommodating brands in the world. Coca-Cola provides services to consumers in more than 200 countries of different cultures, religions and histories. Coca-Cola and its local bottling partners will follow international business practice and not interfere or participate in any political or religious affairs in any country. We adhere to this position in every country around the world.
Coca-Cola began supporting and sponsoring the Olympics in 1928. For 80 years, we have continued to support the Olympic movement around the world. As a partner of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Olympic torch relay, we are actively participating in this global athletic competition.