Unbound Edition. Meaningful conversations about brand, from Davis Brand Capital.

Jesus Christ Super Soda

The international edition of Variety.com recently reported that Coca-Cola has halted the scheduled release of an Italian spiritually-themed film for unauthorized use of the brand.

The film, “ 7 km da Gerusalemme ” (Seven Kilometers from Jerusalem) is about an advertising executive who, while in the midst of a mid-life crisis, makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land looking for answers. Naturally, he meets Jesus and offers him a ride in his Jeep . It’s hot in the desert, so he offers Jesus a Coke, which is accepted and consumed enthusiastically. As Jesus is enjoying his cold soft drink, the ad exec exclaims, “What a testimonial!”

Coca-Cola demanded that the scene be cut because of the possible negative image it might give the brand. I’m not sure I understand this. I don’t think the issue here is blasphemy or disrespect, as the film is reportedly well-received by the Vatican. And the way I see it, if Jesus doesn’t drink a Coke, he’s going to drink a Pepsi. Need I remind us of a certain Extra Terrestrial who enjoyed Reese’s Pieces instead of M&M’s ? I’m just sayin’.

I do feel that in some movies, product placement goes a bit overboard. But Coca-Cola has been recently placed in several movies, including “ Ghost Rider ” (the plot of which deals largely with Satan) and “ Norbit ” (the plot of which sucks).

So, when and where to be discerning? What is brand-right when it comes to product placement ? Sometimes, products are so frequently placed everywhere on TV and in movies that it seems as if it has less to do with strategy and more to do with air time and who has the cash to spend. I’m no expert, but If I were Coca-Cola, I would much rather see Jesus enjoying my product than Eddie Murphy in a fat-woman suit guzzling it down. I’m just sayin’.


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