Tunisian Coca Cola

Corporations have tried and succeeded in cashing in on the political revolutions known as the "Arab Spring." Tunisia is the latest victim.

Image: PxFuel.

The 28th edition of  the Africa Cup of Nations kicked off on Saturday, January 21. It’s only Tuesday and there’s  been some upsets already. Most notably, Tunisia beat Morocco, one of the tournament favorites, by 2 goals to 1. The win was unexpected and Tunisia’s coach Sami Trebelsi admitted to being “surprised” at the “standard of play” by his team. Perhaps the team’s rigor  can be attributed to the national pride that has come with their recent revolution, which triggered the events that eventually became the Arab Spring.

Corporations can’t miss out on any opportunity to ride any wave, and this has been no different. No less than Coca-Cola has cashed in on the spirit of revolution, as they did in post-Mubarak Egypt. Right before the tournament, the drinks manufacturer sponsored a video celebrating the Tunisian team.

Coca Cola recruited Si Lemhaf, one of the music groups who gained fame for the catchy videos they made and distributed online during the revolution from authoritarian rule. By coincidence, Tunisian national colors match  that of Coca Cola, making the product placement just that bit more seamless.

Here’s how Coca Cola’s describes the video:

This hymn is indeed an invitation to rekindle the rage to defeat the Tunisians. An invitation to unite all Tunisians around a common goal, in a difficult context, where they are looking for moments of happiness and hope!

It is worth pointing out that trade unions, who played a huge role in mass revolt in Tunisia, had taken on Coca Cola around the same time over the company’s treatment of Tunisian workers, especially their “precarious” employment contracts. The workers eventually won the strike and got what was due them.

In  February 2011, the unionist Paul Garver interviewed Houcine Krimi one of the leaders of the strike:

The negotiations in Meghrine were truly difficult! In the other plants, the locals were not as quick to mobilize as in Meghrine. We concentrated here to make a breakthrough. Management tried to use this to say they could close the bottling plant in Meghrine if we demand too much.

They also tried to win time, saying that they couldn’t take decisions in an insecure political environment, “we’ll sort it out when things calm down” etc. But we didn’t believe them – after all, they weren’t ready to resolve the problem when everything was calm before the protests started!

We finally managed to convince them at Meghrine because it was clear the strike would continue if they didn’t meet our demands.

After a very long discussion with the management, they finally accepted our demands for Meghrine. The labour inspection was also helping us to push for a positive solution.

It makes Coca Cola’s self-positioning as the “drink of the people” in Tunisia seem all the more sinister.

Further Reading

Who owns Afrobeats

Does Afrobeats come from the continent or the diaspora. This reviewer of a new book on the genre’s history and rapid takeover of our airwaves and playlists, argues we need to center Africa more.

The cemetery of cinema

Thierno Souleymane Diallo’s latest film traces his search for what is likely the first film made by a Guinean, in the process asking: how is a film culture possible when the infrastructure and institutions are lacking?

Whose democracy?

In Israel, tens of thousands have demonstrated against the new right-wing government’s plans for judicial reform. But what of the Palestinian question? In this episode of the podcast, we discuss.