When football player Jimmy Durmaz was subject to a wave of racial hatred and threats on his Instagram after Sweden's loss to Germany in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Coca-Cola Sweden joined thousands of Swedes in showing support and taking a stand against racism in the viral campaign #backadurmaz.

With only minutes left in the match, Durmaz tackled the Toni Kroos, which gave Germany a free kick that led to a loss for Sweden. Durmaz, a Swede of Assyrian decent, immediately received verbal abuse and threats against him and his family on Instagram.

Overview

The comments caused an uproar. Support and love for Durmaz poured in from thousands of fans. On social media, the hashtag #backadurmaz ("Support Durmaz") went viral together with #viärsverige ("We are Sweden"), the hashtag of the Swedish national football team.

Shanga Aziz
 Shanga Aziz, founder of Locker Room Talk, observed the comments online. Locker Room talk is an organization that aims to change sexist and racist comments among teens in locker rooms. Durmaz has been an ambassador for the organization since the start.

“We saw all the support and love Durmaz received after the abuse, and we decided to do something. Since so many people got engaged and spread #backadurmaz throughout social media, maybe all those people would also join us in a manifestation for Durmaz,” Aziz said.

Aziz contacted the police and got approval to arrange a manifestation. He started to contact everybody he knew with connection to Durmaz, including some famous Swedish artists and politicians.

In preparation of the FIFA World Cup Coca-Cola in Sweden, a sponsor of the Swedish Football Association launched a special-edition Coca-Cola cans featuring six players from the national team, including Durmaz. Shanga noticed the campaign and got an idea.

Could Coca-Cola support the manifestation with Durmaz cans?

Of course. Without a doubt. The manifestation shares the same values as Coca-Cola.

The Coca-Cola team acted fast. During the #backadurmaz campaign, one fan got creative and replaced “zero sugar” with “zero racism”. The Coca-Cola team loved it and decided to make a digital campaign with the “zero racism” on the  cans. Since Coca-Cola has a great relationship with the Swedish Football association, the brand got a quick approval.

“We supported the movement in two ways. At the manifestation, we sampled Coke cans with the Durmaz portrait. In parallel, we valorized our already existing football campaign and exchanged 'zero sugar' with 'zero racism' and published it through our social media channels. The response has been overwhelmingly positive," says Frida Keane, director of public affairs and communications, Coca-Cola Sweden.

Vice Prime Minister

Ultimately, thousands of people came together in an anti-racist manifestation to show support for Durmaz. “We are so happy that Coca-Cola quickly decided to support the demonstration. What a great way for people who attended to show their support for Durmaz by drinking a Coke that has his face on it,” said Aziz.

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