Coca-Cola Gets Busted In Recent Illegal Guerrilla Advertisements

Coca Cola Gets Busted In Recent Illegal Guerrilla Advertisements Guerrilla Marketing Photo

Red is all the rage… quite literally.

Last week, Coca Cola [allegedly] paid graffiti artists to stencil 120 Coca-Cola logo on the sidewalks of New Orleans’ historic areas – Vieux and downtown Faubourgs to be exact. In true blue graffiti fashion, artists did it without any sort of city permission. If a Craigslist ad is to be counted on, each artist was paid $600 to do the Ninja job.

Coca Cola Gets Busted In Recent Illegal Guerrilla Advertisements Guerrilla Marketing Photo

The Surprising Cliché

Expectedly, city officials and the blog community clearly and loudly made their dissatisfaction heard. Less than 24 hours from the time the stencils were inked, bloggers swarmed the net with all sorts of reaction. Some called it distasteful, some thought Coke should be sued.

Unexpectedly, Coca-Cola [sort of] blamed their New York advertising agency for the booboo. Kel Villarubia, senior public affairs and communications director of Coca-Cola Refreshments in New Orleans, said that they do have a permit but their NY ad agency misinterpreted what the permit allowed. By mid-day, Villarubia said they are sending out their crew to clean the street.

What The [Supposed] Evidence Say

What Villrubia said seems a direct contradiction from the ad posted by their NY ad agency on Craiglist. The ad stated that they are seeking “street artists to assist with sidewalk stencils for a well known beverage company… [the stencil will be placed] without city permission… near final four traffic areas.”

Another ad ad said they will pay $15 per stencil while another ad offered $60 for 120 tags. The second ad didn’t state the ad will be done illegally.

Both ads are now down.

Meanwhile… In The Creative World

I know that people will be quick to focus on the violation of New Orleans’ historical value and the act of violating the law. I dare not comment on that.

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This I will say…

Coke was never a brand to take the edgy rock ‘n roll route. They’ve achieved and maintained their reign through the preppy and wholesome family oriented chants like “It’s the real thing” and “Open happiness.” Pepsi has always been the familiar face in the rebellious universe. IF this move is a calculated, it’s an extremely brave calculation. To dip their feet in the sea of illegal graffiti could be a sign that someone in Coke is finally trying out the world angst and rebellion.

IF this is nothing but a product of incompetence, as claimed by Vlillarubia, it’s a creative luck.


If it’s controversy Coke wanted, it’s controversy they got.

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  • Sean Carty

    And in the end, Guerilla Marketing success.  You say controversy, we hear “compelling.”  You mention bloggers, we head “free advertising.”  You make a good point about the “wholesome” image of Coca-Cola, but will we really stop drinking coke because of some minor foray into graffiti? Coke is an american celeb, will get off scott free from charges because we love our celebs just that much.

  • Klaus Holzapfel

    I thought the zero underneath the Coca Cola was the grade or rankinf for their campaign :)

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