Coca Cola; Culture Norms, Taboos and Sexuality

Culture is defined as, by Rice (1933) ‘The values, attitudes, beliefs, ideas, artifacts and other meaningful symbols represented in the pattern of life adopted by people that help them interpret, evaluate and communicate as members of society.’
Marketers need to be aware that their products will have to fit in with the culture of their target markets, else it will not succeed but rather insult the target audience. A key way of avoiding this is by doing the research on a cultures taboos. A taboo is an unacceptable action or item, forbidden, banned, not allowed, this can be certain language being used on TV, or particular clothes being worn in specific places. Coca Cola would have to focus on taboos around the world where it sells it’s products, for example, their advertisement may be accepted in some countries, but offensive in others. With some of Coca Colas advertisement, they used pin up girls in America however in other countries such as Saudi Arabia this would be deemed unacceptable and offensive to their culture. The taboo they have is that woman should be covered up at all times, as a pin up girl may be in a bathing suit, or revealing skin it would be unacceptable.

Sexuality should also be a point that marketers take into account due to the fact that it is a strong issue with everyone and can be easily misinterpreted. Different cultures have different gender roles which organisations, in this case, Coca Cola should recognise and use this to their advantage. A couple of years ago an advert with the wife doing the dishes and the man sitting watching TV all happy with Coca Cola would be acceptable, today that would be gender discrimination. Coca cola now focus on having a good time with both genders in their adverts and have also ‘set aggressive goals to help accelerate the recruitment, development, advancement and retention of women leaders.’ (EuropeanPWN, 2013)


Rice, C. 1993, Consumer Behaviour: Behavioural Aspects of Marketing, Butterworth: Heinemann.

European PWN, 2013, How Coca-Cola is Dealing With Gender Equality [online] [viewed on: 24/01/2013] Available from:

Coca Cola A. [online] [viewed: 24/01/2013] Available from:


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