Reality Show Contestant Strips, Coca-Cola Stocks Plunge

Fanatics.  Intolerant.

That’s what the president of Coca-Cola Spain has called critics of a controversial reality show who have called for a boycott on his product until the company cancels their advertising for the show.

Marcos De Quinto, CEO of the soft-drink giant’s Iberia Business Unit which sells its products in Spain and Portugal, has charged life and family defense groups of launching a “guerrilla style attack”.   In an outburst on Twitter, De Quinto raged:

“May God spare us from groups like ‘The Guardians of the Faith,’ who want to tell us what TV shows to watch, what books and newspapers to read, what party to vote for.”

He tweeted a message to Ignacio Arsuaga, president of the Madrid-based religious liberty organization, the group sponsoring the protest:

“If having to think like you is the price I have to pay for you to keep drinking Coca-Cola, I prefer you don’t drink it.”

According to Beverage Daily, De Quinto also criticized the Catholic secret society El Yunque (National Society of the Anvil), accusing them of harassment and describing them, in a September 2 tweet, as a “mafia sect.”

And he retweeted a message accusing the group Foro de La Familia of being “Ultra-Catholics” and “rabid anti-abortionists.”  He insisted, though, that he was not criticizing ‘good Catholics’, Christians or Christianity.

Catholic News Agency reports that other advertisers including McDonald’s and Burger King have already pulled their advertising from the program “Summer Camp,” a Spanish-language version of “Survivor,” after one of the female contestants was forced to strip to her underwear and jump into a pool of melted chocolate, while the host invited her fellow contestants to lick the chocolate off of her.  Catholic watchdog groups complained that the show humiliated women in order to boost ratings.

De Quinto’s outspoken dismissal of critics’ concerns has sparked protests in the Spanish-speaking world.  Across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama, hundreds of Twitter users used the Twitter hashtag #BoikotCocacola to announce their decision to stop buying the soft drink products until De Quinto retracts his statements.

Bishop José Munilla Aguirre, bishop of San Sebastián, was critical of De Quinto, pledging in an August 30 interview on the Cope Radio Network that he personally would drink

“only pure and crystalline water instead of Coca Cola until the situation is cleared up, because I think the president of Coca Cola in Spain has made a big mistake and should retract his statements.” 

The bishop went on to say,

“I was under the impression that this company’s international advertising approach was very respectful of family and social values, and this does not square with the statements made by this president.”

De Quinto, who sails under the Coca Cola flag, has nonetheless described himself on Twitter as a “pirate.”  Beverage Daily offered an English translation of his Twitter profile:

Pirate.  I sail without a flag.  I don’t pretend to convince you about anything, maybe only make you doubt what you believe.

The boycott appears to be building steam, especially in the Spanish-speaking community; and Coca-Cola has posted drops in share prices.

In addition, has been informed by their attorney that there are sufficient grounds for suing for slander and libel.  The group is still reviewing the messages which De Quinto posted on ilTwitter, and will consider whether to sue.

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  • moseynon

    I am surprised that an executive for a major corporation such as Coca-Cola is letting his personal beliefs jeopardize his company. No doubt Marcos De Quinto objects to being pressured by an outside organization. However, is advertising on a reality television show really worth a principled stand? Is he being responsible in risking the profits of the business he leads?

    According to Fox News Latino, De Quinto claims that the television network which airs the show has already apologized for the episode. I guess that raises the question as to the goal of the groups which are advocating a boycott. Do they simply want the show pulled from the air? Or do they want to work with the television network to ensure that future broadcasts respect the dignity of women? What kind of apology did TeleCinco give and why was insufficient?

    I think those are reasonable questions, but they don’t excuse De Quinto’s intransigence on an issue which really isn’t his fight.