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Mecca Cola (Bilan)

Sa devise pourrait être « les chiens aboient, la caravane passe ». Car Tawfik Mathlouthi a gagné son pari. Fin 2002, cet homme d’affaires franco-tunisien, directeur de la station FM française Radio Méditerranée, décidait de lancer Mecca Cola, le premier soda « 100 % militant ». Son intuition – les consommateurs d’origine arabe ou musulmane, exaspérés par la partialité de la politique des États-Unis en Palestine et en Irak, ne demandent qu’à boycotter les produits américains, Coca-Cola en tête, à condition qu’on leur propose une alternative – s’est révélée être une vraie bonne idée. Avec une mise de départ ridicule (22 000 euros), et sans dépenser un centime en publicité, cet ancien journaliste a réussi sa percée sur le marché hexagonal.

Entre novembre 2002 et janvier 2004, sa société, basée en Seine-Saint-Denis, a réalisé un chiffre d’affaires de 3 577 713 euros ; 20 millions de litres de Mecca ont été vendus, au détail, dans les épiceries, les boucheries et les supérettes. L’entreprise espère quadrupler son chiffre d’affaires entre 2004 et 2005. Pourtant, la marque n’est toujours pas référencée en grande surface. « Le jour où les gens de la grande distribution comprendront qu’ils se font d’abord du tort à eux-mêmes et qu’ils lèsent leurs consommateurs, ils finiront peut-être par venir à nous, explique Mathlouthi. Mais je n’irai pas les chercher, j’ai d’autres chats à fouetter. »

Son produit a connu un succès foudroyant à l’étranger et est maintenant disponible dans une trentaine de pays : Émirats arabes unis, où s’est installé le siège de la division internationale de Mecca Cola, Bahreïn, Qatar, Koweït, Liban, Yémen, Égypte, Algérie, Sénégal… En Malaisie, Mecca Cola a été retenu comme partenaire officiel du dernier sommet de l’Organisation de la conférence islamique (OCI), à Putrajaya, en octobre dernier.

Au Maroc, en revanche, la marque est en procès avec son partenaire local. Ailleurs, au Kenya et au Pakistan notamment, Mecca Cola a dû affronter l’offensive de la contrefaçon. Un comble pour une société qui a elle-même réussi en détournant un concept ! Mathlouthi se refuse pour l’instant à communiquer ses chiffres à l’international, sa filiale la plus ancienne n’ayant pas plus de sept mois d’existence : « On en reparlera en septembre ou en octobre. » D’ici là, la firme aura occupé les écrans arabes, avec le lancement, dans les prochaines semaines, de spots publicitaires, notamment sur la chaîne qatarie Al-Jazira.

La réussite de Mecca Cola doit beaucoup à son slogan percutant – « Ne buvez plus idiot, buvez engagé ! » – et à une promesse figurant sur l’étiquette du soda – 20 % des bénéfices (après impôt) reversés à des oeuvres caritatives, dont 10 % à l’enfance palestinienne. La société a déjà financé quelques actions humanitaires, comme la prise en charge des frais d’hospitalisation du journaliste palestinien de l’AFP Dahlen Seif Eddine, ou celle, pendant un an, de la scolarité d’une centaine d’étudiantes orphelines yéménites.

Finalement, Mecca Cola France a décidé de reverser beaucoup plus que les 20 % prévus puisqu’elle va affecter en tout 150 000 euros (pour un résultat net de 282 000 euros) à des dons caritatifs en nature, via une fondation : 75 000 euros à un foyer pour femmes abandonnées, qui sera créé en région parisienne, et 75 000 euros aux Palestiniens, sous forme de kits scolaires (20 000) et de jeux publics gonflables destinés aux municipalités de Gaza et de Cisjordanie. «
Nous avons préféré donner en nature, car personne ne pourra nous accuser de sponsoriser le terrorisme, et Israël ne pourra pas bloquer notre argent, précise Mathlouthi. Pour ce qui est du choix des associations à qui nous adresserons les colis, nous pensons demander conseil à… l’ambassade de France. »

Un bon moyen de couper l’herbe sous le pied aux nombreux détracteurs irrités par la percée marketing et médiatique réussie en France par le promoteur du premier soda antisioniste… »

Samy Ghorba lL’intelligent du 25.04.2004

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Mecca Cola after the middle east will be found in Europe and north Africa

Agence France Presse English

08-28-2002

 

 

The fizzy Iranian soft drink “Zam Zam Cola” could quench the thirst of the two million Muslim faithful expected next February on their annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest spot Mecca, following a Saudi boycott of US cola giants Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola.

“Two million pilgrims are going to come to Mecca. We have just established ourselves in Saudi Arabia, where we delivered Saturday 300,000 bottles, and we hope that during the next Hajj (pilgrimage) the faithful will refresh themselves with our products”, Zam Zam’s director Ahmad-Haddad Moghaddam told AFP.

Asked about the opening in the Saudi market, Moghaddam said: “We seized on the opportunity, since US products are being boycotted by Saudis,” as well as other Gulf states in protest over the US government’s support for Israel during the 23-month Palestinian uprising.

“But I would not chalk up our success to political matters. It is because of the quality of our products, the taste of our drinks, comparable to the world’s best products, which also meet international health standards,” he said.

His company’s first shipments arrived in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

Zam Zam, named after Mecca’s Zamzam holy spring water, was founded in 1954 and was for a long time the Iranian partner of Pepsi Cola until their contract was terminated after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The company was taken over by the Foundation of Dispossessed, a powerful state charity run by conservative clerics and immune to oversight from parliament.

Zam Zam employs 7,780 people in its 16 factories, the main ones being in Tehran and the northeastern city of Mashhad. Its annual turnover is 162 million dollars.

Besides Saudi Arabia, the Iranian soft drink company is now shipping its fizzy beverages to Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It will soon export its carbonated drinks to Lebanon, Syria and Denmark, which will be its first European client.

Mecca Cola after the middle east will be found in Europe and north Africa

iht

After Mecca Cola was introduced two similar drinks were rolled out in France

International Herald Tribune

03-17-2003

 

If the United States does invade Iraq, some of the first casualties may be the cachet that American brands and products have enjoyed around the world and the globalized marketplace they helped to build. In Muslim countries, franchised stores like McDonald’s and KFC have already been attacked, threatening to brake a recent surge of investment in franchised businesses, many of them originating in the United States. At the same time, a growing number of knock-off products have appeared in Europe, imitating popular American brands but appealing to anti-American sentiment in Europe’s large Muslim population and among other Europeans opposed to American policy in Iraq. ”From a business perspective,” said Bilal Hallaq of Franchise Development Services, a British consulting firm, ”it has catalyzed a move to more insular markets.” There is no easy way to know whether the effects of anti-American sentiment on American businesses in Europe will be substantial. They may be masked somewhat by the general economic slowdown, which has already reduced investment. But Hallaq said that a wave of Middle Eastern investment in franchised businesses, as an alternative to putting money in sour stock markets, appeared to have halted. An important meeting scheduled for April in Riyadh, where one Canadian and two American companies had planned to recruit Middle Eastern franchisees, has been called off, he said, and a similar meeting meant to bring together investors and franchise holders in Cairo next month has been put off until September. Arab-owned companies are postponing expansions into Western Europe. In recent months, Hallaq said, several Arab-owned chains, including one modeled on the Body Shop and another of Arabian-style coffee shops, shelved plans to open in markets like France, Britain and Germany. Similarly, Muslim countries seeking to attract American investment have suffered setbacks. A recent effort by Morocco to attract American franchisers was canceled after no Americans came. But business contacts among Muslim regions remain strong. ”Anything with a foreign flavor, especially from the United States and the United Kingdom, is not on the agenda,” Hallaq said. Some local companies that appeal specifically to Western Europe’s 12 million Muslim consumers have continued to expand. In the Netherlands, for example, Chicken Cottage, a chain of fried chicken restaurants promising that all its poultry is prepared according to Muslim religious standards, is thriving in large cities like Amsterdam, though its success in the countryside is modest. Soft drinks challenging Coca-Cola and claiming solidarity with Muslim causes are multiplying. After a Coke knockoff called Mecca Cola was introduced in November, two similar drinks, Muslim Up and Arab Cola, were rolled out in France this month. Though meant to appeal to young Arabs and to support Muslim causes, the products also seem to be cashing in on general anti-American sentiment. Muslim Up’s advertising promotes ”an alternative for all who boycott Zionist products and big American brands.” But Gerard Le Blanc, the Algerian-born French businessman who started Arab Cola, was quoted by the French daily Liberation as saying that ”we are above all a beverage manufacturer; we are apolitical, and not at all ideological.” These brands may stoke

competition, but they usually remain narrow niche products, according to Jagdish Sheth, a marketing expert at the Goizueta Business School of Emory University in Atlanta. The problems that anti-American sentiment in Europe may be causing for American companies already operating in Europe and the Middle East are harder to gauge. The Starbucks franchisee for Switzerland and Austria, Bon Appetit Group, sold its 21 stores back to Starbucks Coffee Co. in March, less than two years after opening them, prompting speculation in the Swiss media that concern about anti-American sentiment harming the stores’ sales played a role as well. In the Middle East, McDonald’s Corp. introduced a new product this month ã the McArabia, a chicken sandwich on Arabian-style bread ã with a sales and promotion campaign that overshadowed the flagship Big Mac, an effort that one French newspaper said was meant to ”relaunch McDonald’s in the Muslim world.” Both Starbucks and McDonalds denied that their moves had anything to do with geopolitical tensions.Indeed, Starbucks said that buying out Bon Appetit’s interest in the stores reflected its determination to expand ambitiously in Europe; Bon Appetit’s main businesses, institutional catering and food distribution, had been struggling lately and the company had no spare cash to finance additional Starbucks stores in its territory.But Hallaq, the British franchising consultant, said that American companies, brands and ideas may get a much chillier reception if bullets fly in the Gulf region. ”Everything was starting to open up,” he said. ”If we go to war, it will be a setback.”

Unicef

Mecca cola one of companies mentioned by unicef

Business Wire

8/27/2004

 

DUBLIN, Ireland — X-tribes Teens is a Unique Publication That Investigates Current Teenage Trends and Analyses the Impact and Power Teenagers Hold over the Advertising and Marketing World

Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) has announced the addition of X-tribes Teens to their offering.

This report details the market trends and socio-economic climate surrounding teenagers across Europe. Published six times a year, the reports are available by annual subscription. Each comes accompanied by a reel of ads available on VHS, CD or online, a pull-out stimulus section of teen photos and visual material.

Report Contents:

Trend Themes: Tactile Marketing; Easy Rider; Family Ties; The New Etiquette; Teens Facing Prejudice; Interview: Napster UK’s Leanne Sharman; Sector Digest: Alcohol, Cigarettes & Drugs; Crime; Eating & Drinking; Education & Vocation; Fashion & Beauty; Health; Leisure, Interests & Spending; Media & Entertainment; Sex; Social & Cultural; Technology, Video & Mobile Phones

Companies Mentioned:

Sony Playstation Portable; Apple ipod, Global Haptics: geOrb, Visa Europe, Royal College of Art, Gamester, Media Lab Europe, National University Singapore, Nokia, Nintendo, Bonn University, Center Parks, Paradisio, Fini, Bugles, Grefusa, Hula Hoops, CK Jeans, Coca-Cola: Vanilla Diet Coke, Nintendo: Gameboy Advance, Gardena, Walt Disney Imagineering; Jupiter, Lowriders,Choppers, BMX, Orange County Choppers (OCC), Carhartt, H&M, Harley Davidson, Yamaha Star Cruiser, Electrabel, McDonald’s, Raleigh, Tommy Hilfiger, Nestle, Champion, Golden Vale, The Parent Coaching Academy, Bliss, Tickbox, TNS Media Intelligence, National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women, BMRB, MTV Europe, Qwest, Alpen, Seat, McCain, NCH Action for Children, O2, CosmoGirl: www.habbohotel.co.uk, www.bombpop.com, wwwwebsafecrackerz.com, BT/Yahoo, Happy Endings Foundation, Sagem, Samsung, European iTunes Music Store, www.mp3DownloadHQ.com, Sicap, Rutgers University, 84443, Broadcasters Against Racism, www.unitedagainstracism.org, BBC News Online, Eurisko, www.icare.to, La Sapienza University, Ministerio de Trabajo Y Asuntos Soc, CEI Conferenza Episcopale Catholica, Knorr, UNICEF: Teen People, Mecca Cola, Qibla, Napster UK, British American Tobacco, Jagermeister, Youth Justice Board, Roxxoff, Cambridge University, ANPE, Ipsos, DGB, Elton John Scholarship Fund, Ralph Lauren, Marks & Spencer, Hachette Filipacci UK, WHO, JAMA, Ludwig-Maximillians Universtiy, The Robert Loch Institute, Avicenne de Bobigny, GlaxoSmithKline, Colombia University – NY, Federal Association of German Collection

Enterprises (BDIU), T-Moblie, Vodafone, E-plus, Canal J (Lagardere), Activisation, Italian Association of Catholic Psychiatrists & Psychologists, Teleconomy, MSN Europe, Toshiba

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A new soft drink under the name Mecca Cola will be launched…

United Press International

10-09-2002

 

UPI hears … for Oct. 9

WASHINGTON, Oct 09, 2002 (United Press International via COMTEX) — Insider notes from United Press International for Oct. 9 …

A nasty spat has broken out between Israel’s Finance and Defense ministries over the $700 million deal to upgrade 170 of Turkey’s obsolescent tanks. The Defense Ministry has guaranteed the deal for the contracting company, Israel Military Industries, and unprecedentedly assigned a serving officer, Brig. Gen. David Angel, who runs Israel’s Merkava tank project at the ministry, to manage the Turkish project. But the Finance Ministry now says the margins are so tight that Israel is likely to make a loss on the deal. The Defense Ministry says the profit margins are indeed razor thin, but that is so Israel can win the next stage of the Turkish tank upgrade contract, for another 770 tanks, worth some $3 billion. The Finance Ministry is still skeptical, noting that Israel was required to invest $100 million upfront in building an assembly line in Turkey for the tank upgrades.

On the day that a U.S. Marine was shot dead in Kuwait by attackers linked to al Qaida, Kuwait is blaming the Iraqi crisis for its reluctance to invest in Central Asian republics. A delegation from the Kuwaiti National Assembly told his hosts in Kyrgyzstan that Western forces were “holding maneuvers in the Persian Gulf every day,” hampering Kuwait’s oil extraction and leaving no money for investment in friendly Islamic states.

Pakistan’s former naval chief Adm. Fasih Bokhari, who suddenly resigned a week before the Oct. 12 coup in 1999, now claims he knew of Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s plot and wanted no part of these “dirty games.” The admiral also says that Musharraf launched the coup “because he feared he will have to face a court martial for masterminding Kargil.” This was the failed Pakistani-backed offensive in Kashmir by anti-Indian militants that brought the two countries to the brink of war. Bokhari says he is speaking out now because the required 3-year period of post-retirement silence on public issues has now ended. But he is also known to favor a rapprochement with India and as a firm critic of Musharraf’s displays of brinkmanship toward New Delhi.

A new soft drink under the name Mecca Cola will be launched in France in November, Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, with 10 percent of the profits going to a Palestinian charity (Purely Humanitarian). The money is to be used in improving the lives of Palestinian children, for their education and for preserving their heritage. The entrepreneur responsible for the project, Tawfiq Mathlouthi, said he was inspired by the success of the Iranian drink project Zamzam

Cola, created as “an Islamic alternative” after the popular boycott of American products and a big success in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Pakistan and a number of African countries.

For the first time, Indian troops and airmen are training on American soil. Someone in the Pentagon with a politically incorrect sense of humor, or perhaps not knowing the difference between Indians from south Asia and those from the Western Hemisphere, has given the title “Geronimo Thrust 02” to the training operation at Alaska’s Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base. Indian paratroops will be jumping alongside their U.S. counterparts from both Indian and U.S. aircraft. For the Indian troops, fresh from the Kashmir confrontation line with Pakistan along the Himalayan glaciers, Alaska in October will be like a vacation in the sun.

TV Evangelist Jerry Falwell’s recent comments on CBS’s “60 Minutes” describing Prophet Mohammad as a terrorist and Islam as a religion that advocates terrorism has appalled Jordan’s Christian community. Kamal Mansour, speaking on behalf of the kingdom’s Baptists and Anglicans, condemned Falwell’s comments in the official, mass circulation al-Rai daily, saying the community “strongly rejects the Zionation of The Holy Book (Bible) for political greed at the expense of peoples’ pain.” Bernard Sabella, a senior member of the Middle East Council of Churches, published an open letter that accused Falwell of being “part of the problem confronting our world.” Jordan’s Christian community is estimated at 5 to 7 percent of the 5 million population.

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In Islamic nations there are even new alternative cola drinks called Zam Zam and Mecca Cola

The Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland)
2/26/2003

 

Byline: Frank OAEDonnell

 

ACTION by environmentalists which forced the closure of more than 100 Esso petrol stations could be the start of further consumer protests against a war with Iraq, it was claimed yesterday.

On Monday, 300 volunteers from Greenpeace, including priests and teachers, cut off electricity to Esso stations and chained themselves to petrol pumps. Activists said Esso and its Texas-based parent company ExxonMobil had helped to fund George Bush’s presidential campaign and influential US thinktanks and individuals who were aggressively advocating an attack on Iraq.

This week’s protests included calls for a public boycott of Esso stations and raised the possibility of wider action by consumers who oppose the war. In the Middle East and countries such as Thailand, there is already a widespread boycott of brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and KFC, simply because they are identified with the US.

The Stop the War coalition in London yesterday backed Greenpeace’s protest against Esso and said action by consumers could be a powerful weapon in the struggle to prevent war.

“It’s a good idea and we would be interested in looking at any serious proposals like this,” a spokesman said. “It is not central to what we are doing but we are open to ideas like this. There are bound to be further protests of this kind.”

Some commentators have predicted the impact of consumer boycotts could be massive if the US decides to bomb Iraq, pointing to the strength of feeling shown by the worldwide demonstrations against military engagement with Iraq.

Indeed, many of the demonstrations included a strong consumer message. Rejecting US products, for example, is seen as a simple way of sending an anti-war message.

Across the globe, US multinationals such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola/ have seen sales volumes hit by the boycott of products. In Islamic nations there are even new alternative cola drinks called Zam Zam and Mecca Cola. In London, 36,000 bottles of Mecca Cola were handed out to protesters at Hyde Park during this month’s march.

Other US companies such as Starbucks, Nike and McDonald’s have also been affected, while the Iranian government has banned all media advertising for US manufactured goods.

There have also been reports of US consumer boycotts of French and German products after the two countries refused to support the US stance on Iraq. A new US advert shows three German-made cars, with the slogan: “Do you really want to buy a German car?”

In Scotland, there has been little obvious sign of consumer protest – although one Scottish pupil is organising her own boycott if war begins.

Faith Mackie, 14, a third year student, plans to leaflet fellow pupils at Hazelhead Academy in Aberdeen and encourage everyone to walk out for one hour.

Her father, Dr Bill Mackie, said: “I am proud of the fact she is strong-willed on these moral issues. She does not know how many people will follow her lead, but she feels she had to do something if war kicks off.”

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Scotland is also encouraging students and employees to walk out of their work for an hour to demonstrate opposition to the war.

But David Capitanchik, a terrorism expert at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University, said: “Boycotts of this kind don’t seem to work and I don’t think they would in this case either.”

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Coca-Cola has led to the creation of a homegrown alternate: Mecca-Cola

Wisconsin State Journal

01-11-2003

 

U.S. MUST NUKE ‘EM WITH SITCOMS

Byline: Tim Ryan

Edition: ALL

Section: OPINION

Type: Letter

Memo: Ryan, who previously worked for Reuters News Service, is a correspondent for the Shawano, Wis., Leader.

Who knew things had gotten this bad?

It’s long been obvious that the United States has an image problem around the world. But now there’s this little tidbit in the New York Times that should be an alarming wake-up call about just how far our influence as a superpower is slipping.

According to the Times, U.S. TV shows overseas are increasingly getting shunted out of prime time. This may seem like a trivial thing but I think it has serious implications. There was a time when syndicated U.S. TV shows dominated foreign TV fare. We were the dominant syndicated superpower, flooding international homes with our clearly superior entertainment culture. We prided ourselves on not just having more missiles and nuclear warheads than the rest of the world but more and better sit-coms and cop shows.

There are countries in this world where people know nothing about the United States except what they’ve learned through badly dubbed American TV shows. They learned from watching “Baywatch” that American lifeguards spend much more time breaking up drug smuggling rings than pulling drowning victims out of the water. From “Friends,” they learned that New York City has no African Americans and that anyone with even the most meager income can afford a beautiful two- bedroom apartment.

Sure, American TV is still big overseas but more and more often people are having to stay up until after 11 p.m. to see it. Instead, these countries are filling prime time with their own TV shows – in some cases, blatant rip-offs of stuff we sent them. Germany has its own version of “The Love Boat” called “Das Traumschiff,” or the “Dream Ship.” Though I think the main difference is every time they dock in a new port the crew goes ashore and occupies the town.

Of course there are those parts of the world where U.S. TV shows have never been able to make any headway. There’s probably no hope of American sit-coms finding their way into the living rooms of Islamic countries where TV is dominated by such hit shows as “Who Wants to be a Martyr?” “Just Stone Me,” and “Buffy the Infidel Slayer.”

Television is not the only place where our standing is slipping. Another recent news item reports that a Muslim boycott of Coca-Cola has led to the creation of a homegrown alternate: Mecca-Cola. It was created by Muslims in France – but now their fellow Muslims in Britain, Belgium and Germany are making Mecca-Cola their Real Thing.

I hope President Bush has been made aware of the threat to Coca- Cola sales that could result from going to war in Iraq. This isn’t just about oil anymore! This is about soft drink market dominance!

More importantly, it’s about American influence and standing in the rest of the world. You can impose all the sanctions you want on some foreign nation. It hasn’t changed the regime in Iraq. It hasn’t even changed the regime in Cuba and we’ve been trying it there for 40 years!

No, the single best way to spread democracy through the world is by flooding it with American products and TV shows. Lift the embargo against Cuba. Start sending them Coca-Cola, Nikes and “Sex in the City” reruns and Castro will be gone in six months.

Forget defense spending. We don’t need a missile defense shield, we need better syndicated TV programming. Foreign nations would be faced with the prospect of nuking the country where Barney comes from. “Hey, we can’t do that, my kid watches that show! Call Bush, tell him we’ll negotiate.

Mecca Cola profits support charities

“We heard (the protesters’) voices and respect their feelings”

Xinhua News Agency
3/22/2003

 

 

BANGKOK, Mar 22, 2003 (Xinhua via COMTEX)

The bottler Coca Cola Friday closed its warehouse in southern Thai province Yala, where anti- American sentiment has been high.

A group of Muslim youth and crowds poured Coke and Pepsi on the street outside Yala’s central mosque in a protest held on Thursday.

Coca Cola’s Thai bottler Haad Thip Plc confirmed the “temporary ” closure of the warehouse in Yala, reported Bangkok Post.

“We heard (the protesters’) voices and respect their feelings”, Haad Thip’s managing director Phairoch Rattakul was quoted as saying.

“We will not open our warehouse until they understand that we are not an American-owned company,” he said.

The move means it would be hard to find Coca Cola’s products including Fanta and Sprite.

Haad Thip, which serves 14 southern provinces, is one of two bottlers of Coca Cola in Thailand. Thai Pure Drinks Ltd covers the rest of the country.

A drink named Zamzam, which was made in Iran and named after a holy spring in Mecca, has appeared in Yala market since earlier February, when southern Thailand’s Muslims began boycotting the United States products.

The other brand named Mecca Cola, which was launched by a French company two months before, has also appeared in Yala.

Thailand has a small population of Muslim, most of whom live in the south.

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20 per cent of profits go to a range of leading local and international humanitarian

Birmingham Evening Mail (England)

11/25/2003

 

MUSLIMS across the city were today celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr and the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadhan.

Up to 25,000 worshippers were attending Eid prayers at Birmingham Central Mosque. They were being offered refreshments in the form of free samples of Mecca Cola, which is currently being promoted among the Muslim and wider community.

For every can or bottle sold, 20 per cent of profits go to a range of leading local and international humanitarian concerns such as assisting Palestinian children.

A spokesman said: ‘We believe the UK will respond positively to a credible ethical alternative to existing products which promotes humanitarian causes.’

Among those ending their fast at the central Mosque were Nighat Parveen, her 18-month-old son, Faizan Adnan, and her brother, Mukhtar Ahmed.

The-Independent-logo

Mecca Cola – “No more drinking stupid. Drink with commitment!”

The Independent (London, England)

2/23/2004

 

 

Byline: Robert Hanks

 

When consumer choice is frequently held up as the ultimate good, and all the shops are open on Sunday, it is refreshing to hear talk of Britain having a soul – one that can even be fought for. It would’ve been nice if the makers of The Battle for Britain’s Soul, a history of Christianity in England (Scotland and Wales barely got a look in, I’m afraid), had also regarded the nation as having a brain. But hopes of that died, as far as I was concerned, with the appearance of the presenter, the Rev Peter Owen Jones. The message of his velvet waistcoat, flapping black overcoat and the beads around his neck couldn’t be clearer: History Rocks. Or, more precisely: Ecclesiastical History Rocks.

 

This week’s programme, the second, took up the story AD871, with Alfred resisting the Viking hordes and, obviously, burning the cakes – an incident brought to life by footage of the Rev Owen Jones sitting in a reconstructed Saxon hovel, while cakes smouldered over a fire and a semi-transparent woman in period dress mimed giving him a good scolding. That set the tone for the rest of the programme: no anecdote or historical statement could stand unsupported by inept dramatisation, banal image-mongering or unnecessary props.

 

For an explanation of the importance of baptism in medieval England, the Rev found himself clutching a baby, which he addressed as “mate” and kissed on the head; to accompany the death of Thomas a Becket, we had a hand signing the name “Thomas Beckett” (sic), while splotches of blood fell on to the page; discussions of Christian teachings on lust were illustrated with film of a woman slapping away her man’s groping hand. Who did the producers imagine would have been more entertained or informed after this parade of witlessness?

 

Next to this, Channel 4’s Regency House Party seemed a model of sober historical analysis. The concept – in effect, locking up Miss Bennett and Mr Darcy in the Big Brother house – is undeniably shoddy, the scripted commentary semi-literate, and the participants often dispiritingly silly. This week, one woman decided (with how much encouragement from the producers?) to imitate Lady Caroline Lamb, who once had herself served up as a course at a meal. When the other house guests entered the dining room to find her naked on the table, modesty shielded by bits of fruit, it was plain that they were far more embarrassed than amused. But it was interesting to observe how readily the participants (single men of good fortune in want of wives; women on the hunt for husbands) grasped the rigid rules of precedence, and seized on the conception of marriage reduced to a commercial transaction.

 

Auden wrote, of Jane Austen, that it was discomforting to see a genteel spinster revealing so frankly the economic basis of society: the lesson here seemed to be that she wasn’t telling us anything we didn’t already know. By contrast, Message in a Bottle was a documentary about the intrusion of spiritual and political values into the world of commerce. It followed the stories

of two entrepreneurs who had created explicitly Muslim soft drinks: in France, Tawfiq Mathlouthi had launched Mecca Cola, with the slogan “No more drinking stupid. Drink with commitment!” In Britain, Zafer Iqbal had launched Qibla Cola.

 

Both, it seemed, were finding a market among Muslims who saw Coca-Cola’s global dominance as a facet of US imperialism. But while Mecca Cola came first, and seemed to have branded itself more successfully as the Islamic alternative, Qibla’s manufacturing and distribution were far superior.

 

Mark Pendergrast, author of a critical history of Coca-Cola, suggested that idealism may win sales in the short term but, in the long term, success would come from people casually saying “I’ll have a Qibla”, and being able to reach out and grab one. I wondered how the stuff tastes, but nobody seemed to think that mattered.