Coca-Cola pulls ad featuring Basque actor “with ETA sympathies”

Decision comes after complaint sent to drinks manufacturer by a terrorist victims’ association

Actor Gotzon Sánchez (right) during the Coca-Cola commercial.
Actor Gotzon Sánchez (right) during the Coca-Cola commercial.

Coca-Cola has announced it is withdrawing its latest ad campaign after receiving a complaint from a terrorism victims’ association.

The commercials feature a Basque actor named Gotzon Sánchez, who has “publicly and manifestly expressed sympathy for” Herrira, a support group for ETA convicts that was shut down by the Spanish High Court last September for funding and glorifying terrorism.

In their letter, the victims’ association Dignidad y Justicia (Dignity and Justice) asked the multinational to pull the ads, noting that the heads of Herrira are currently being investigated for terrorist association.

Sánchez, who was born in the Basque town of Rentería (Gipuzkoa), has featured in other television ads for well-known brands such as Mahou beer.

We were not aware of the actor’s resume and personal details” Coca-Cola

“We were not aware of the actor’s resume and personal details. This is a matter that the producer deals with, and in which Coca-Cola is not involved,” said the company, which apologized to the victims of terrorism and “anyone who felt offended after watching the ads. They’ve been pulled and we apologize.”

The decision comes a day after the daily El Mundo published the letter that was sent by Dignity and Justice to the head of Coca-Cola Spain.

In the ad, Sánchez plays a fan of Real Madrid who is informed by his son that he is switching team allegiances, and will be supporting rival club Atlético de Madrid instead.

The letter, which is signed by association president Daniel Portero, says that “it pains me to see that the image and public representation of the real fans of Real Madrid or Atlético de Madrid can be assigned to people like Gotzon Sánchez, who supports organizations investigated for their ties to ETA, and who wants terrorists with multiple blood crimes to their name to walk out of jail without serving the 30 years established by the penal code.”

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