General election 2019: Row over Momentum use of Coca-Cola advert

By Joe Tidy
Digital election reporter, BBC News

  • Published
Momentum campaign ad based on Coca-Cola 'holidays are coming ad'Image source, PA Media

Coca-Cola says a video made by Labour-backing group Momentum using the company's footage was done without their permission or endorsement.

The video posted to the campaigners' social media feeds used edited footage from the iconic Coca-Cola "holidays are coming" advert from the 1990s.

It superimposed Labour slogans onto the side of lorries and ended with an image of Jeremy Corbyn as Santa Claus.

Coca-Cola said it was "taking steps" to ensure it was permanently removed.

The BBC understands the US soft drinks giant is seeking legal advice on the matter.

The video was viewed more than 70,000 times and shared widely on Twitter before the site blocked it for copyright reasons. The original post was removed by Momentum about 30 minutes after Coca-Cola issued a statement warning of action.

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said: "We have been made aware of a social post from Momentum which uses footage from the Coca-Cola Christmas advert. The film is in no way endorsed by the Coca-Cola Company and we have not given permission for any footage to be used in this way. We are taking steps to ensure this is removed."

'Cease and desist'

One leading copyright lawyer said Momentum could be in danger of facing a substantial damages claim from the company.

"I imagine a cease-and-desist letter has already been submitted to Momentum," Helen Griffin, senior associate solicitor at Harrison Drury, told the BBC.

"Companies need to act quickly in these situations to keep as many legal remedies open as possible. The letter is the first step and will probably include any details of trademarks and copyright ownership that Coca-Cola has."

Momentum is likely to have a short deadline in which to comply, she added. Alternatively, the firm has the option of seeking a court injunction.

It comes after another iconic advert was also used for political purposes on social media.

On Thursday, The Sun newspaper posted a video filmed in the style of BT's famous 1980s "Beattie" advert - featuring the ad's original actress Maureen Lipman but not using any of BT's footage. The spoof ad attacked Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party's policies.

BT has not yet commented.