Coca-Cola wars: American icon vs Russian icons

A group of Christians in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod have called a recent marketing campaign by Coca-Cola 'blasphemous'. The believers are indignant at the way the company is using religious images in its ads across their city.

The fuss began after the Coca-Cola Company launched a marketing campaign, showing images of church domes and other cultural sites on outdoor refrigerators on the city's streets.

Many of the town's residents say they want to put an end to the campaign.

“The company doesn't really understand that Coca-Cola is associated with the American way of life. You know bubble gum, free love and so on. Such advertising is discrediting our church,” a  Nizhny Novgorod citizen claimed.

More than 400 citizens sent a formal appeal to the local prosecutor's office, demanding that the city authorities take action against the manufacturer. They say Coca-Cola is damaging Russians' national pride.

“This is outrageous. Sacred images like icons, cathedrals, and crosses, and words used to denote them shouldn't be used in advertising and trade. If this were to happen in any other country, it would immediately lead to serious action,” a local priest said.

Coca-Cola disagrees and believes the ads don't offend anyone. In fact, it says the images were an attempt to promote Russian culture.

Moreover, the slogan “The Value of Tradition” clearly shows Coca Cola's desire to preserve Russia's heritage, the company says.

But it's not just the images inside the Coke bottle that have sparked the outrage. The believers say that the images showing the bottle upside down resemble the Satanic symbol of the inverted cross and many of Nizny Novgorod's residents share these concerns.

The authorities have until January 12 to decide whether the believers' case has any legal grounds.

Meanwhile, Russia's fourth-largest city is preparing for New Year and Orthodox Christmas.