This was announced by the beverage giant via its Facebook page, where even its cover photo has been changed to its signature bright red background with white words proclaiming: “We’ll be off air for a while…” in capital letters and large font.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire country under a State of Calamity for six months starting 16 March 2020, as well as imposed an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) on Luzon island, including the nation’s capital of Manila until 13 April 2020.
In another post, Coca-Cola Philippines added that this was part of its efforts to ‘do everything we can to help’ in these ‘challenging times for all’.
“Commercial advertising of Coca-Cola and all our brands in the Philippines will be put on hold,” it said.
“All our committed advertising space and budgets will be redirected towards supporting COVID-19 relief and response efforts for the most affected communities.
“We will re-channel PHP150mn (US$2.94mn) [towards efforts to fight COVID-19].”
The funds will be spent on humanitarian support for frontliners and help for the more economically-challenged segments of Filipino society.
Initiatives highlighted as part of this assistance included: Provision of protective equipment and beverages for health workers, delivery of food packs to the most vulnerable families, and support for affected small retailers.
According to Inquirer, deliveries for the needy will be made with assistance from the non-governmental organizations Caritas Manila and Rise Against Hunger, whereas PhilStar added that assistance for frontline workers will be provided via TOWNS Foundation and UP Medical Foundation.
“Together, we can make a difference,” Coca-Cola Philippines emphasised in its message, which was also delivered in its signature colour.
During this emergency period, the firm will be allowed to continue production as it falls under one of the allowed business establishment categories, which is ‘involved in the production, processing and distribution of basic necessities (e.g., food, pharmacies / drugstores, banks)’.
This is not the first time that Coca-Cola Philippines has opted to forgo commercial advertising in favour of humanitarian efforts – during the 2013 Hurricane Yolanda/Typhoon Haiyan, the firm also donated the funds originally planned to go to its annual holiday commercial to the victims.
The firm’s humanitarian pledge has been met with an outpouring of support and gratitude from the Filipino online community, calling Coca-Cola ‘part of the Filipino culture’ and deeming this move ‘more powerful than [any] TV commercial’.
“Thank you, Coca-Cola. This is the best advertisement you have,” said one netizen.