Cola Turka was launched on July 7, 2003 by a major Turkish confectionary and food company, Ülker. The company marketed the product under the slogan, “Cola you know, Turka as we are,” as a local alternative to global American brands such as Coca-Cola. By 2005 the company reported that it was the second best-selling cola beverage in Turkey, coming after Coca-Cola but ahead of Pepsi-Cola.
Ülker, on the other hand, advertised Cola Turka as a beverage suitable to Turkish tastes and lifestyles - to be Turkish is to drink the local brand. Their commercials clearly juxtapose American and Turkish culture. Set in New York and starring comedian Chevy Chase, Americans adopt Turkish customs after drinking Cola Turka. A man in a cowboy hat suddenly begins talking in Turkish, the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” transitions into a popular Turkish song about national independence, and Chevy Chase finds himself spouting a black beard. The introduction and timing of this marketing campaign of Cola Turka coincided with the American invasion of Iraq, but was not expressly anti-American compared to brands such as Mecca-Cola and Qibla-Cola. These brands were launched in 2002-2003 and marketed, in France and the U.K. respectively, as an “ethical alternative” to products that symbolized America-led globalization. Taufik Mathlouthi, a Tunisian-born French entrepreneur, advertised Mecca Cola as part of a campaign against “America’s imperialism and Zionism”. Cola Turka, however, was promoted more moderately - not as anti-American but as "positive nationalism." As national identity and ideology become tied to a commercial product, consumption became a political act.
The international responses to the global spread of Coca-Cola products reveal the ways in which international consumers viewed American culture, politics, and commerce, and how local brands competed within the global marketplace.
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