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Coca-Cola suspends all commercial advertising in the Philippines

Instead, it will redirect its resources to supporting the relief efforts for the most affected communities in the nation from COVID - 19.

In a move which is bound to raise eyebrows in surprise and awe, Coca-Cola said in light of the COVID - 19 virus spread, it’s putting all commercial advertising for itself and all its brands on hold in the South east country.

We learnt about this when Pratik Thakar, director/head of integrated communications, ASEAN Business Unit at The Coca-Cola Company posted about it on LinkedIn.

On social media channels, Coca-Cola Philippines uploaded the post with the hashtag #GoBeyondGood; a clear sign of the brand’s intent.

In the post, Coca-Cola stated it was fully committed to helping in any way they can. And that’s why they are redirecting all their advertising resources (space and budget) to supporting the relief and response efforts against COVID - 19.

The brand also stated it will re-channel PhP 150 million (Rs 22 crore) to the following efforts: provide protective equipment and beverages to health workers, deliver food packs to most vulnerable families, and support affected small retailers.

For a brand like Coca-Cola which served its first drink in 1886 and today has a presence in 200+ countries, its move in the Philippines won’t go unnoticed. According to Statista, the advertising expense for the Coca-Cola Company worldwide in 2019 was 4.25 billion USD (over 31,000 crores). Word will spread and it may have other brands rethink their communication during the COVID - 19 crisis.

The virus in the Philippines has infected over 200 people and claimed over 15 lives.

A CNN Philippines report on March 19, the country will stop issuing all visas to foreigners and cancel existing ones. "Starting today, all our Embassies and Consulates will temporarily suspend visa issuance to all foreign nationals as well as the visa-free privileges of all foreign nationals," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. tweeted.

This is not the first time that Coca-Cola has taken steps for the bigger good. In 2019, Coca-Cola India along with other leading consumer product companies together launched packaging waste management venture 'Karo Sambhav', which focuses on creating a formal eco-system for collection of post-consumer packaging and optimising material recycling processes.

During a pandemic, it is common to see brands take a step forward for the greater good. But, it’s rare to see a big brand suspend its advertising spends and redirect the space and budget to assisting relief efforts.

However, while we applaud the move, we are left wondering about the timeline of this move. For how long will Coca-Cola Philippines suspend commercial advertising because no vaccine has been developed against the virus, one cannot be sure when this pandemic will end.