Mecca-Cola has seen rapidly growing sales as it rides the worldwide anti-capitalist backlash. With an ethical reputation that goes beyond its core Muslim market, its sponsorship of the anti-war protests in London placed Mecca-Cola on the world stage and at the same time highlighted the growing market for products of its ilk.

Mecca-Cola, the alternative to Coke aimed at Muslim consumers, stands to gain ground on its global rival after featuring prominently in the million-strong protests against a war with Iraq held in London over the weekend.

Mecca-Cola was launched last year in France by Tawfik Mathlouthi, under the slogan 'Stop drinking stupidly, drink with commitment'. With branding reminiscent of the American leviathan that it seeks to rival, Mecca-Cola is marketed based on political and ethical principles. Palestinian and European charities receive 10% of all profits apiece.

The drink has been a great success in France, especially in areas with a high Muslim population, such as the north of Paris, and has begun to penetrate mainstream channels. Currently, the company sells 11m bottles of Mecca-Cola a month. Two million bottles a month are exported to the UK.

However, a British rival to Mecca-Cola has arisen: Qibla-Cola, founded by Zahida Parveen, also seeks to appeal to Muslim consumers by donating 10% of all proceeds to Islamic charities in the developing world. But Qibla-Cola need not detract from Mecca-Cola's market share - ample evidence suggests that the growing market is big enough for both.

Qibla-Cola and Mecca-Cola both have red and white packaging that is reminiscent of Coca-Cola's ubiquitous livery. The Coca-Cola brand has become a symbol of US capitalism and thus a lightning-rod for the growing anti-capitalist, anti-globalization movement around the world, a sentiment that is by no means limited to Muslims.

In its sponsorship of the anti-war rally, Mecca-Cola has found an imaginative but entirely appropriate piece of event marketing that confirms its credentials as the politically conscious consumer's soft drink of choice, as well as earning it precious media exposure. Just as importantly, it helps demonstrate that growing numbers of consumers are following the sentiments expressed by its new slogan: "Think while you drink".

Related research: Datamonitor, " Targeting event audiences - New Consumer Insight" (DMCM0132)