An advertising campaign titled “Love is love" by Coca-Cola in Hungary, launched to coincide with the Sziget festival that promotes gay acceptance, has run into a wall of conservative reproach. The brand’s posters celebrate same-sex couples and feature such taglines as “zero sugar, zero prejudice" (for a sugarfree variant of the fizzy drink). This has proven much too provocative for some supporters of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist Fidesz party, which is known for religious conservatism and a hardline anti-immigrant stance.
Although Orban himself stopped short of endorsing a boycott call of the product by a senior member of his party, few think that he is okay with such overtly liberal imagery in public spaces. For nearly a decade, Orban has built a reputation for stoking all manners of prejudices to suit his politics, to the extent that he is often viewed by his European counterparts as a threat to their vision of a modern, integrated and pluralistic continent. On same-sex union, he has been clear: these are not to be tolerated. All this, however, only makes Coca-Cola’s campaign all the more laudable.
Advertising in India, for long much too shy of stirring the social cauldron or taking up openly liberal causes, has lately begun to softly venture where angels had feared to tread. For instance, Tanishq’s wedding film that breaks ground by celebrating remarriage or Myntra’s “The Visit" commercial, which challenges hetero-normative notions of coupledom are novel starts. If more and more brands calculate that the gains of boldness outweigh the risks of a backlash, we may see even more interesting fare.