A golden smile that captured the hearts of Kenyans…. Coca-Cola responds after calls to make Baringo girl brand ambassador

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Coca-Cola Company has responded to the social media campaign by Kenyans to make a four-year-old Baringo girl, Joy Jebiwot, a brand ambassador.

In a statement, the global soft drinks firm said that the photos of the girl that went viral on social media represent “pure happiness.”

“This is pure happiness. You’ve made us smile by capturing and sharing this beautiful image, especially when things are so sad in the world right now,” said the company in a statement shared with Mafans on Monday, May 25.

However, the company still maintains that it does not use children under the age of 12 in its advertisements and marketing worldwide.

“As a company we have made a decision not to use children under the age of 12 in our adverts and marketing worldwide, but we do love seeing your creativity and passion for our brand so continue sharing your amazing talents with us,” said Coca-Cola.

The firm’s responsible marketing policy clearly states out that they do not design their marketing communications in a way that directly appeals to children under 12.

“Specifically, we will not use, in any communications created after the date of adoption of this policy: Celebrities or characters whose primary appeal is to children under 12, with the exception of brand equity characters already in use…Licensed merchandise whose primary appeal is to children under 12. Images of our products being consumed by children under 12 without an adult present. We will not feature any children who are, or appear to be, under 3,” Coca-Coca policy published on their website states.

In a telephone conversation with its PR and Communications partner in Kenya, Ogilvy, the firm told Mafans that it is still assessing the pros and cons of obliging to the wish by a section of Kenyans online.

“There are two elements to the social media campaign. First, there is the wonderful four-year-old girl in the photos. Second, there is an element of art. The photos were taken by the girl’s cousin, a photographer. As you know, Coca-Cola is also a huge promoter of art. The decision is quite complex and requires extensive consultation given that our firm is global and has many layers. And then there is the age of the girl, she is still very young, something not allowed by our responsible marketing communications policy,” said the firm’s PR and Communications partner.

Joy, a Pre-Primary One (PP1) pupil at Dreams Hill Academy in Mogotio, Baringo County was photographed taking a Coke drink while at her grandmother’s home in Eldama Ravine.

The photos of the young girl took the internet by storm, with many Kenyans pushing from the onset to have her used in a Coca-Cola advert, a chance for the company to connect with local consumers at a very basic level, using a recognizable face in an advertisement.

While the company does not use children under the age of 12 in adverts and marketing communications worldwide, the girl’s father said he has granted his consent after much reflection.

“If it is possible for Joy to be made a Coca-Cola ambassador, it is okay. It is part of motivating other young ones that they can become who they want to be despite where they come from,” said Jacob Keror the girl’s father who is an employee of Nyamira County government.

Jacob described his younger daughter as an outgoing, friendly, and brave girl.

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