After slamming critics of its decision to sponsor a reality TV show featuring objectionable content, Coca Cola Spain is facing boycotts of the company's products throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
The Madrid-based religious liberty organization Hazteoir.org recently launched a public opinion campaign to call on major businesses to withdraw their ads from the reality show “Summer Camp,” a Spanish version of “Survivor.”
During the program, one of the female contestants was made to strip to her underwear and jump into a pool of melted chocolate, while the host invited her fellow contestants to lick the chocolate off of her.
HazteOir.org convinced McDonalds, Burger King, Orange, ING Direct and Minute Made to all pull their ads from the program. However, the CEO of Coca Cola Spain, Marcos De Quinto, has maintained his company’s sponsorship.
De Quinto used his Twitter account to explain his decision, saying, “May God spare us from groups like ‘The Guardians of the Faith,’ who want to tell us what TV shows to watch, what books and newspapers to read, what party to vote for.”
He also used his account, @MarcosdeQuinto, to attack the president of Hazteoir.org, Ignacio Arsuaga.
“If having to think like you is the price I have to pay for you to keep drinking Coca-Cola, I prefer you don’t drink it,” he said.
De Quinto also threatened to have lawyers investigate what kind of penalties could be levied against the organization, which he accused of “inciting a pack of wild dogs against specific targets,” referring to its support for marriage and opposition to abortion.
In other tweets, De Quinto labeled Christians who object to Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the program as “fanatics” and “intolerant,” and accused them of launching a “guerrilla-style” attack against Coca Cola. He also said he had the backing of executives at the Coca Cola world headquarters in Atlanta.
De Quinto’s response generated an immediate reaction from Spanish-speaking Catholics in Spain and Latin America.
Bishop José Munilla Aguirre of San Sebastián criticized De Quinto’s attitude, and told the Cope Radio Network Aug. 30 that he personally would drink “only pure and crystalline water instead of Coca Cola until the situation is cleared up, because I think the president of Coca Cola in Spain has made a big mistake and should retract his statements.”
“I was under the impression that this company’s international advertising approach was very respectful of family and social values, and this does not square with the statements made by this president,” Bishop Munilla said.
At the beginning of this week, the Twitter hashtag #BoikotCocacola became a trending topic in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama, and hundreds of Twitter users announced their decision to stop consuming Coca Cola until De Quinto retracts his statements or resigns as CEO.
Originally published by Catholic News Agency on 5 September 2013.