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Coke pulls ads, donates the money to Haiyan relief work

We are used to seeing advertisements piggy-backing on social causes or issues in order to redo their brand image in the eyes of consumers. But it might be the first time that advertising has been pulled for a good cause - Coca Cola Philippines has announced that its ads will no longer be appearing on media channels till further notice, so that the committed advertising space and ad funding can be redirected to relief efforts for Typhoon Haiyan.

Damage caused by Haiyan. AP

Damage caused by Haiyan. AP

In a statement released on Tuesday, the company said they placed on hold all advertisements starting November 18 until further notice. "Any committed advertising space will be redirected to the relief and rebuilding efforts for the people in Visayas," the statement read.

The corporate had earlier donated more than US$2.5 million in cash and kind for relief operations in the Philippines.

Coca Cola isn't the first brand to donate to relief work in the Philippines. George Ty-led Metrobank, Toyota Motor Philippines and Toyota Financial Services Philippines have donated 50 million Philippines pesos. But their mode of advertising the contribution they are making is notable - a sort of 'non-advertisement' wherein the ads are supposed to be conspicuous by their absence.

Earlier this week, a French newspaper removed all the photos in its issue - instead choosing to leave blank white squares where the photos would have gone - in an attempt to draw attention to the importance of photographers, who have been hit hardest by the cuts in newspaper ads in France. The images, which can be viewed here, made a strong point by the starkness of their absence.

But whether the absence of the Coke ads will make a similar impact remains to be seen - the absence of one advertisement in a cacophony of advertisements will probably not be that notable. This move is more of a symbolic attempt at good publicity, with which there's nothing much wrong morally speaking, as long as the money is being redirected for relief work to people who need it.