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Sprite: 'Brutally refreshing' - or sexist?

An advert for Sprite that has been described as sexist Image copyright Twitter

"She's seen more ceilings than Michelangelo"; "You're not popular, you're easy".

Brutally refreshing? Or just brutal? Coca-Cola sparked a stinging reaction on social media with the latest instalment of an advertising campaign for the soft drink Sprite, prompting the drinks giant to apologise and pull the ad.

The campaign, which uses the hashtag #BrutallyRefreshing, was launched in Ireland earlier this year and aimed at a mainly male audience.

It said it was "celebrating those with guts to tell it like it is".

Some of the previous "truths" used included:

  • "We all have one tight friend"
  • "One dip is never enough"
  • "If you have to give your taxi driver directions, you're better off walking"

But the campaign came in for harsh criticism when this particular advert appeared on the Irish website JOE.ie.

As well as the phrases about ceilings and popularity, it read, "A 2 at 10 is a 10 at 2!"

Louise McSharry, a radio presenter from Ireland's RTE 2fm, posted a picture of the advert to her followers on Twitter.

Image copyright Twitter

One Twitter user, Emma Turley, responded: "Someone actually approved this awful, misogynistic advertising campaign?"

Another, Bob Churchill, said: "A marketing firm convinced itself & @CocaCola that *abstract slut-shaming* was the way to go?! #BrutallyRefreshing."

Some Twitter users added the hashtag #everydaysexism, and one called Siobhan said: "What would be #BrutallyRefreshing @Sprite is you dragging your marketing into the 21stC an unreserved apology + a massive donation to charity."

The editor of JOE.ie, Paddy McKenna, said the advert was entirely at odds with his site's messages about the treatment of women.

"Anyone who has read the site knows that this does not reflect JOE's brand values. It shouldn't have been there and it was removed as soon as it was flagged," he said.

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said: "We're sorry for any offence caused by the #BrutallyRefreshing Sprite campaign in Ireland, which was intended to provide an edgy but humorous take on a range of situations.

"Since its introduction in Ireland, Sprite has been associated with individuality and self-expression and we have always been committed to ensuring we deliver the highest standard of advertising.

"We recognise that on this particular occasion the content did not meet this standard and we apologise. The campaign has now come to an end and the advert in question will not appear again."

Produced by Andrew Alexander, BBC Social and UGC Team