Racism sparked by Coca-Cola Superbowl Ad

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(Photo: Coca-Cola)

Last Sunday was the first time I ever experienced “Superbowl Sunday” in my life. As an international student, I felt that I had to experience it at some point because it is a big part of American life and tradition, at least to those that I have met here. Apart from wanting to immerse myself in American culture, I had to watch the advertisements for my Public Relations class and had to pay attention to people’s responses after they were aired.

I noticed that in the many advertisements that I watched, there were a few that caught my attention in a really good way. The example that I am going to focus on is Coca Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” ad. From my perspective, I definitely thought it was a beautiful ad that was well done and promoted a sense of diversity, yet the responses from people on Twitter really took me by surprise and made me, once again, take good look at the kind of ignorance that exists in the world. I say again because this is not the first time that I’ve seen these kinds of responses. I thought back to the time when Indian-American Nina Davuluri was crowned for Miss America 2013. The fact that she won sparked a lot of controversy because she was of indian-descent and not “American” enough. (More on that story can be found at: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/showbiz/miss-america-racist-reactions/)

Coca Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” ad consisted of the song “America the Beautiful” sung in eight different languages, while featuring people and families of different ethnicities. It sort of reminded me of the video that is played at Passport Control in American airports, where they have people from different ethnicities saying “Welcome” in their own language.

So if some of you have still not seen it, here it is:

I don’t know if many of you noticed this but as soon as I logged into Facebook, a lot of people were sharing a Buzzfeed article that was a compilation of screenshots of people’s responses on Twitter. As described in the Buzzfeed post, I went on Twitter it came to my attention that #SpeakAmerican was actually trending.  Some people threw the words “terrorist” and Coke being a “communist” in their comments, but what stood out most is people’s response to the fact that the ad was muti-lingual.

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Looking at this really saddened me, but looking back I wasn’t really surprised. We live in a world where there are certain individuals that cannot accept new ideas, and unfortunately not everyone is open to the idea of diversity. The ad was supposed to promote diversity, especially with the presentation of people from different races and the different languages sung, but it ended up triggering racist attitudes toward the ad, which is very unfortunate. People even failed to notice that there was a gay couple in the ad, which is a huge step in our society, and were so blocked by their own ignorance and rejection of other cultures instead.

Resources:

Broderick, R. (2014, February 03) Coca-cola’s multilingual super bowl ad inspired a complete meltdown online [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/coca-colas-multi-lingual-super-bowl-ad-inspired-a-racist-mel

Lee, J. (2014, February 04). Coca-cola super bowl ad: Can you believe this reaction?. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/02/03/coca-cola-ad-super-bowl-racism/5177463/

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3 thoughts on “Racism sparked by Coca-Cola Superbowl Ad

  1. From a socio-political perspective, I cannot agree with you more in saying that there is still a very large population of America who are not only very much against the concept of diversity, but are also outright racist, xenophobic, and homophobic, to be frank. Like you, I’m an international student and have faced discrimination myself, but perhaps not as badly as those with Middle Eastern descent.

    From an purely advertising and business perspective, however, although Coca-Cola meant well in promoting diversity in America, perhaps it should have considered more thoroughly the impacts, both positive and negative, when it chose to air this ad in the event with the highest viewership in the United States almost every year. I’m not agreeing with the negative views that many people are espousing through the hastags #speakenglish and #america, but could the company have advertised without injecting political issues?

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  2. I understand that coca cola is tying to have world wide appeal, but for an american sporting event they should have maintained an all american theme. Save the world view for the Olympics.

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  3. From my perspective the commercial was not racist at all. I don’t even think it was supposed to be internationally based. We are indeed a country of immigrants. I personally speak more than one language. I know people who speak almost all of the languages used in the ad, I honestly think that if the add had stuck to the whole “Cowboys are America” trope we see in so many beer and truck commercials, it would have been arguably more racist. It makes sense for beer and trucks because that’s their main market, but Coke is a massive company with no main market, they market to everyone. American is everyone, whether they’re originally from Spain, Russia, Brazil, or the Middle East.

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