No laughing matter: comedian advertises Coca-Cola's 'Nazi' past

Coca-Cola adverts are to be found in the farthest corners of the globe promoting a happy, wholesome image, but now they are the subject of a new exhibition which links the soft drinks giant with Nazi Germany.

Coca-Cola adverts are to be found in the farthest corners of the globe promoting a happy, wholesome image, but now they are the subject of a new exhibition which links the soft drinks giant with Nazi Germany.

The comedian Mark Thomas and the artist Tracey Sanders-Wood, who curated the art show Coca-Cola's Nazi Adverts, which opened in central London yesterday, say the company advertised in Nazi papers, exhibited at Nazi trade fairs and opened bottling plants in Sudetenland shortly after the Nazis invaded Czechoslavia.

Coca-Cola has rejected any suggestion that it sympathised with the Nazi regime, although it admits it operated in Germany while Hitler was in power.

Artists and members of the public with artistic aspirations were invited to contribute to the exhibition. Their brief was to imagine Coca-Cola's adverts in Nazi Germany. Mr Thomas said: "Coke exists through advertising. That's why people drink the stuff. You can't escape it. What we wanted to do was to create an exhibition which made people think again every time they reached for a Coke.

"It's a very democratic exhibition. I mentioned it after gigs and we set up a website. If a work is submitted, it will be exhibited."

Images in the exhibition, which will include more than 400 pieces when it moves to the Foundry in east London next month, feature Coca-Cola symbols - the company's slogan and the Coke bottle - combined with Nazi slogans, propaganda and pictures of Adolf Hitler.

Predictably, it has not gone down well at Coca-Cola. "We reject out of hand the suggestion that as a company Coca-Cola ever sympathised in any way with the abhorrent acts or policies of the Nazi regime in Germany," said Tim Wilkinson, communications director for Coca-Cola Great Britain. "That is an unwarranted insult toward every person working for our company."

Coca-Cola has donated money to help those who were involved in forced labour during the Nazi years in Austria and Germany, but Mr Wilkinson said this was good corporate practice and not an admission of guilt.

Richard Niman, whose sculpture portraying Hitler as a little girl holding a doll has been on display at the Imperial War Museum in London since 1990, is involved with the project. He believes that focusing on Coca-Cola's past gives the show wider appeal. "You have to pick something big to make it have a more universal context. Hopefully it will embarrass Coca-Cola," he said.

Thomas, known for his attacks on the Government and on corporate Britain, has been compared with the American Michael Moore. He uses stand-up gigs and his Channel 4 show to decry miscarriages of justice and oppression.

He has forced the former armed forces minister Nicholas Soames to display a family heirloom, a mahogany three-tier buffet, at Christie's in London, under a law that made works of art available to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax, and has driven a tank into a McDonald's "drive-thru" restaurant.

He has also has set up an exhibition of contaminated sea- gull droppings at the Sellafield nuclear centre, and went to the Athens arms fair in 1998 posing as a PR consultant and encouraging dealers to put on a media-friendly spin.

Thomas's concerns centre on Coca-Cola's actions in Kerala in India, where it has come under fire from courts over water consumption at its bottling plant. Coca-Cola denies that it is responsible for depleted water reserves in the region.

Coca-Cola's Nazi Adverts is on show at the Nancy Victor Basement, 36 Charlotte Street, London W1 until 10 June. The exhibition will then move to the Foundry, 84-86 Great Eastern Street, London EC1.

POOR MAN'S MICHAEL MOORE?

Nicholas Soames's mahogany buffet

In 1996 Thomas forced the Tory MP Nicholas Soames to display a mahogany three-tier buffet, at Christie's in London, under a law that made works of art available to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax.

McDonald's

The teamdrove tanks through a McDonald's drive-in restaurant.

The Athens arms fair

Posing as PR consultants, Thomas made weapons dealers put a media-friendly spin on their business.

Sellafield seagulls

A display of radioactive seagull droppings was set up in the plant's visitors' centre.

Jack Straw

Multiple sclerosis sufferers who smoke cannabis for pain relief stormed the office of Jack Straw, when he was Home Secretary, in a protest against drug laws.

Teddy Bear

The comic confronted MPs on their views while dressed as a giant teddy bear.

News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEpic YouTube video features boundary-pushing staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star