February 3rd, 2014
11:33 AM ET
7 months ago

Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad ignites online debate

(CNN) – Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl commercial Sunday night was at first glance a moving tribute to America’s diversity, featuring a full minute of ordinary people of different races and ethnicity doing ordinary American activities, as the classic song “America the Beautiful” plays throughout the ad.

Nevertheless it became one of the most polarizing moments of the night. Why? The song was sung in different languages in addition to English, which sparked an uproar on Twitter.

Former Rep. Allen West explained why he and others were so upset by the ad.

“The last thing any of us should want to see is a balkanized America,” he wrote in a blog post Monday morning. “Furthermore, it has to be of concern that we have Americans who lack the resolve to take a stand for our borders, language, and culture.”

West, a Republican from Florida, was not petitioning for a boycott of Coca-Cola products, but argued the song should have been sung in English and showed U.S. military members of diverse races.

“If you truly want to show a diverse commitment to service, sacrifice, and honor that enables us to live in ‘America the Beautiful’ that would have been rated the best commercial advertisement of the Super Bowl.”

And as Washington grapples with tackling immigration reform, the ad also became fodder for that ongoing debate. Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted a reference to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, whom she has criticized for supporting some GOP efforts to resolve the illegal immigration problem.

Others were quick to blame Republicans for making hay about the ad. Former White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe tweeted:

His tweet, of course, brought its own wave of criticism, as some compared it to the controversial MSNBC tweet last week that assumed conservatives would be offended by a Cheerios ad about a biracial family.

While the Coca-Cola commercial certainly had its critics, it also had plenty of people coming to its defense, including Republicans, such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski ‏of Alaska.

The Heritage Foundation, a high-profile conservative think-tank, also tweeted out support for the ad Sunday night.

The debate continued Monday morning with plenty of other people defending the ad—and blasting those who took issue with it. The term “America the Beautiful” became a trending topic on Twitter in the United States.

People also stood up for part of the ad that showed a gay couple with their daughter. It was apparently the first time a gay family appeared in a Super Bowl ad.

"Including a gay family in this ad is not only a step forward for the advertising industry, but a reflection of the growing majority of Americans from all walks of life who proudly support their LGBT friends, family and neighbors as integral parts of 'America the Beautiful'," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement.

Peter Shankman, a branding and social media consultant, predicted Monday that the dust-up over the commercial will soon subside.

“The people who are online criticizing it and the racists and the homophobe, and all those–that’s going to be gone. They’re not going to be talking about this in three weeks. The people that it resonated with are the people who are actually going to spend the money to buy the product," he said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Or, in other words….


Filed under: Allen West • Lisa Murkowski
soundoff (441 Responses)
  1. Marcia

    I am sorry. I don't consider myself racist...just a good Canadian BUT I have to say that the day we hear the Turkish, Pakistani, Chinese, Russian, Iraqi national anthem sung in English I will concur I guess. But until then...a national anthem should be sung in the language that it was written for...Sorry. You are always PUSHING the limits..

    February 3, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. NameLisa Hauer

    At least they're patriotic and appreciate America.

    February 3, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  3. Ryan

    Last time I checked, the United States of America, does not have an official language...

    February 3, 2014 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  4. Namepeartini

    It's not an anthem in English that makes it "American" it's the sentiment of the message.
    If you haven't embraced that to date, then, YOU ARE NOT TRULY AMERICAN AT HEART. I invite you to leave our country.

    February 3, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  5. Anthony W. DeFrancis

    For all of you idiots out there that are not descendants of the American Indians,check your family tree to see where your background and heritage began. In fact some of you may have grandparents, great grand parents who have been in this wonderful for generations and still do not speak English. I feel sorry for any of you who missed out on this experience. Get a life that is less bigoted and enjoy the mix of cultures and languages that make up our melting pot of America. Yes Coca Cola wants to sell their products all over the word, so what. I enjoyed their commercial and the example they made in using several different American faces and voices even if I didn't understand the language I did understand the message.

    February 3, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  6. Josephine LaRocco

    The English language is what unites us as Americans. When I first saw the commercial, I thought to myself that we have lost our American culture in order to let everybody else have theirs. When all my grandparents came to this country from Italy, they learned English and were proud to do so. I'm sorry but other cultures have taken enough from us.

    February 3, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  7. Jon

    How about Americans learn how to speak english ,i have lived in this country for a long time and i am amazed of how many people are illiterate . Plus aren't you all immigrants?

    February 3, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  8. Jim

    In the U.S we don't speak Spanish its not the American tradition, and you'll have to get over that. Maybe in Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador they do, because Spain is part of their history. Just because you move to a different country and continue your native traditions, doesn't mean all of a sudden our country's history, and traditions change. Just because a boy has Mexican heritage, doesn't all of a sudden mean Mariachi is as American as apple pie, sorry about that. Don't allow people who have no understanding of American History try to tell you what it means to be an American, don't allow them to white wash your culture, and replace it with their own.

    February 3, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  9. Danny

    It's just not right and un American

    February 3, 2014 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  10. pushelildaisies

    It amazes me that racist and nationalistic people in America don't realize how ridiculous and ironic their comments are. They are part of a nation built on the backs of immigrants. Unless they are Native American or First Nations, to complain about things "Not Being Sung In English" (or another great ubiquitous example, "Why Don't You Learn How To Speak English") is outrageous and hilarious. It's too bad they're too stupid to realize how ridiculous they sound.

    February 3, 2014 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  11. JH

    So, what about Puerto Rico? Aren't they a commonwealth? Similar to Virginia and NC? The native language there is of Spanish persuasion. They are already considered, for the most part, part of the United States and they aren't REQUIRED to learn English in Puerto Rico. Only when they cross the water??

    February 3, 2014 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  12. d

    um... the biggest problem I think, is the recent discovery that Coke's caramel coloring causes cancer- are we aiming for a global effect?????
    And the diverse approach is not bad- providing it is not just a presentational persona-

    February 3, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  13. Ruu721

    obviously this is an issue..another issue that divides the country because no one remembers what united means anymore..if it was a tribute perhaps to the land that they love? maybe.. would've been much better pulled off with the multi-cultures dressed in their cultures singing in English... No one cares about patriotism or "United" States anymore... i am still proud my ancestors came here, not so proud what was done to the American Indian but they are part of my heritage too....i am a melting pot. while you all want to embrace your diversity..i embrace all of me that that i have become because of the United States...speaking English

    February 3, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  14. Namejuanita

    Next it will be God bless america sung in arabic!!!!!!

    February 3, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  15. Third generation immigrant

    When my ancestors came here no one spoke Finnish to them, they were tossed in school and forced to learn English. How much easier a time they might have had and what better living would they have made could they have used their native language. They learned English back then with no internet and technology to help I do believe everyone here should be speaking English. It is a privilege to be here so at least respect that privilege and learn the language.

    February 3, 2014 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  16. Tina Winn

    If we were to move to another country to live there we would have to learn their language, they wouldn't necessarily be accommodating us by learning to speak our language. It's a wonderful thing we live in a country with so many nationalities that have come together and learned or are learning to live together. It is equally wonderful that we live in the land of the free, and there are many freedoms. So why are we having to learn all their languages so they can function in our society, they should be required or at least want to learn the language of the land that they chose to come to because of our life and liberties.

    February 3, 2014 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. dlove3000

    soda is bad for you anyway

    February 3, 2014 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  18. Denise

    Yes we are a country of immigrants, and yes most of our ancesters were immigrants. However, alot of the current immigrants expect everyone else to conform to them rather than to embrace and assimilate to the Country where they choose to live. They should still maintain their heritage, but they should learn to read and speak the language of the land where they live. They should learn to honor our laws and if they choose to live here they should go through the legal process rather than BREAK the law. Honor and Repect of our Great Country has a hollow ring if not upheld.

    February 3, 2014 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    The reason America doesn't have an official language is because we're so diverse. The commercial was showing that, and how we're an incredibly mixed country that has different cultures from all over the world, and if you think that that's ridiculous, you're wrong.

    February 3, 2014 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  20. lavachebeadsman

    Loathe as the American right is to admit it, we are a nation of immigrants. One thing that we couldn't separate from if we tried to as a country is our diversity. Our grandparents or great-grandparents came here speaking different tongues, and nothing is more American than multiculturalism.

    February 3, 2014 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  21. GO

    luv it!!! it was inclusive!!!

    February 3, 2014 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  22. ragingval

    Try living in a part of the country where 50% of the pipulation that is born & raised in the US, goes to American schools from Head start through 12th grade, & isn't literate in English, THEN being told people shouldn't HAVE to learn English, but instead others should have to learn Spanish to accommodate them.

    February 3, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  23. Robin

    WOW...I guess American citizens are not appreciative of their multi cultural country as we Canadians are. I knew Americans were ignorant, but this is a new low!

    February 3, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  24. Raul

    Did we forget American history all of a sudden?...although a little town in Wyoming represents America, a city like New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio represents America much better.

    February 3, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  25. TPR

    How was this even an issue? Coca-Cola is an international beverage and an icon. In the United States of all places, speaking another language should never be a problem.

    February 3, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
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