The women in Saudi Arabia will be officially allowed to drive from June 2018, but a cold drink ad has already given a sneak peek of how it will be. A Coca-Cola advertisement, which has gone viral on social media, shows a loving father teaching his daughter how to drive.
The beverage ad has been winning hearts on social media for its theme but has also received criticism from several.
The one-minute commercial begins with a Saudi father giving handling his car keys to daughter. Initially, the girl struggles to drive the luxury car, but then the father opens the beverage bottle to boost her confidence. He then opens the coke bottle and the daughter takes several vigorous gulps.
She then confidently drives down the desert highway with confidence while a song plays in the background. The ad with a tagline "Change has a taste" was released on YouTube on November 2.
The video, viewed by more than 273,976 times, was released almost after a month the country passed a historic decision of allowing women to drive. In September, King Salman made an announcement that both "men and women be issued driver's licenses."
While the decision was hailed as historic, the commercial depicting the positive social change has got mixed reactions.
"These companies think it is OK to take something and make it a brand. And not just anything, women in Saudi Arabia have been and still are fighting patriarchal oppression on a daily basis," Amina Awartani, a student activist from Qatar, told Newsweek.
"They not only include themselves in a struggle they have nothing to do with, but they're literally using it to their own advantage so that they can make money," she added.
"The @COCACOLA_ME ad on the most symbolic moment for #Saudi #women is a #fail; as bad as #kendel #Pepsi protest," a social media user tweeted.
However, several praised the beverage brand for the new theme.
"Love this Ad! A Saudi teaching his daughter to drive. Well done @CocaCola," one user tweeted.
"This! Celebrating #SaudiArabia #Women #Driving! #Changehasataste So well done @CocaCola," another tweeted.
Coca-Cola gets it right in— kaveri (@ikaveri) November 7, 2017
a new ad in Saudi Arabia. Loved it. pic.twitter.com/nFB0IWPj0d
Coca Cola messed it up with this. Like any Saudi native would drive a car that old. Ugh! pic.twitter.com/EA0hQeY2fH— #NotAllAreTen (@_JustJoking) November 8, 2017
really appreciate the new CocaCola ad,the saudi father teaching his daughter how to drive but,why does it look like we are stuck in the 70s?— Aljoharah. (@JayM2_) November 9, 2017
I love this Coca-Cola new ad in Saudi Arabia. Loved it. ?? pic.twitter.com/5GbUOrXIRE— Abdalaziz Avil (@Abdalazizawill) November 8, 2017
Representatives of Coca-Cola have responded to the criticism and said that they are celebrating the positive social and cultural change.
"Coca-Cola is continuing its legacy of celebrating positive social and cultural change in its advertising campaigns by releasing a topical and timely ad in the Middle East," Omar Bennis, the company's representative in the Middle East, told Newsweek.
"The campaign touches on the brand's values surrounding diversity and inclusion and aligns with Coca-Cola's commitment to enable the economic empowerment of women."