As the Seattle Seahawks annihilated the Denver Broncos during this past Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII, I sat with my friends at Standard Market Grill in Lincoln Park completely bored with the lack of competition and excitement in the game, as well as in the advertisements. It was Coca-Cola’s “America Is Beautiful” spot, however, that completely drew my attention away from the seemingly endless array of alcohol and bar bites.
Opening with scenes of grandeur depicting the great American outdoors, Coca-Cola expertly draws on consumer emotions in the one-minute spot through the utilization of classic Americana. Upon hearing “America the Beautiful” sung in the languages of the American people, it’s quite difficult not to become emotional, as many Americans can relate to and appreciate our multicultural community. After seeing the advertisement, I immediately determined that the spot was by far my favorite of the night, which is why I was completely shocked by the reactions of other viewers that came to light the following morning.
Headlines reading “Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad ignites online debate” and “Coca-Cola’s ‘It’s Beautiful’ Super Bowl Ad Brings Out Some Ugly Americans” flooded news outlets across the country, further adding to my confusion. YouTube user David Rowell’s comment on the soda giant’s YouTube page read, “When my family saw this commercial, Coke products became banned in our home. This is America. We speak English here. I’ll choose other products besides Coke.” After seeing this comment, and reading a few news articles, I determined that this “scandal” was nothing more than a group of uneducated, ultra-conservative Americans with no clear vision of the current state of our nation.
I, in no way, shape, or form, see how this group is justified in their protests. Historically, Coca-Cola is not in the business of stirring up controversy. While similar sentiments surrounded their historical “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” spot in 1971, the organization has remained committed to promoting diversity globally, an endeavor which I greatly admire.
In the wake of this week’s “America is Beautiful” backlash, Coca-Cola released a statement that read, “‘It’s Beautiful’ provides a snapshot of the real lives of Americans representing diverse ethnicities, religions, races and families, all found in the United States. All those featured in the ad are Americans and ‘America the Beautiful’ was sung by bilingual American young women.” Furthermore, the brand has committed to airing an extended version of the spot during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, a move signifying the brand’s commitment to promoting diversity.
According to the Pew Research Center, 21% of Americans age 5 or older speak a language other than English. We are living in a highly globalized world, and this small sector of our community needs to wake up and realize that they are more than likely the sons and daughters of immigrants. While the voices behind this “scandal” will be supposedly protesting Coca-Cola products for life, the organization has far more consumers in their corner that are willing to support their brand, both economically and socially.