February 3rd, 2014
11:33 AM ET
10 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.

https://twitter.com/Rob2TurntFoster/status/430323585635606529

https://twitter.com/mmahathy/status/430322688481968128

https://twitter.com/janicehr55/status/430318726039097344

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.

https://twitter.com/littlegirlLiv/status/430151418876817408

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. Brad

    "America the Melting Pot"

    February 3, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. Name

    Not offended. Sick of the bigotry. Most of those offended were descendent from immigrants.

    February 3, 2014 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  3. Maria

    I knew the Coke commercial with America sung in various languages would draw criticism,it did.We are all immigrants here. Have our Native Americans chimed in on this? Everyone has a grip.

    February 3, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  4. amkaplan

    Leave it to the USA to have some of the biggest bigots in the world. This was a moving tribute to America, and all certain people could do was judge it by their own narrow belief systems. Pathetic.

    February 3, 2014 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    With as many ignorant, intolerant bigots and racists there are in the United States, please, tell me again why people claim it to be the greatest country in the world???

    February 3, 2014 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  6. Dawn DiVita

    My whole family sat in awe at this horrible commercial, yes we are a country of many,, but America the Beautiful should only be sung in english. Go Pepsi for now on

    February 3, 2014 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Narrow minded people suck.

    February 3, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. aroobola

    Actually, people who assimilated when they came here decades ago sometimes did it out of fear, not pride. My grandmother grew up in Tennessee and was told not to tell anybody about her part-Cherokee grandmother, because she might fall victim to the Jim Crow laws. She married a man who was hush-hush about his half-Spanish grandmother. I see nothing to be proud of in their shame over their own heritages. When culture progressed to the point that immigrants no longer felt that they had to anglicize their names, or become Christian, or whatever, it was not a sign of declining morals in this country. It was a sign that we had become better people than we had been.

    February 3, 2014 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  9. Tracie McMillan

    Coca-Cola: Demonstrating loving American values since back in the day :)

    February 3, 2014 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. Tari Torch Sweeney

    God. I can't take it anymore. Do you all remember "We can teach the world to sing?" in 70's or whenever? What has happened to this country? People of all cultures live all around us, every day. Who cares if they speak their own language. Move to Paris, or Rome. Will you only speak Italian, or French? I am sure some of you will have a great reason why you just HAVE to speak English in a foreign country. No wonder the French don't like us. I don't either. I am embarrassed...and it really makes me laugh when you people call yourselves "Christians". Excuse me? Is that what Jesus thought? Get real.

    February 3, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. Mic

    Now I know that most everyone in America has family forefathers and mothers from other countries but the primary language in America is English! They learned it and passed it down to now. Time for the corporations, the government, and the rest of the world to get that fact straight! You want to move here learn the English!

    February 3, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  12. Sfirstlady

    Shame on Coca Cola. this is America. This is an American Anthem and should be sung in ENGLISH. The problem with CNN is they skew the statistics. Guess what CNN! 344 tweets does not quite represent the American population. When you talk about 14% or 85% you should also give a total number. Just like the DEMS...don't know how to report accurate info.

    February 3, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. silent in sc

    I think the commercial was beautiful! I want to be included in the 86% who agree. It is rediculous that everything of no great significance makes international news and the things that should be up front and center are pushed to the back burner. I could be more specific but this pole is only related to the Coke commercial. When are we as Americans going to stand up and speak about the things that matter in this country rather than opening up a can of worms over an "American" song being sung in many languages..????

    February 3, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. Steve

    Coca Cola is Universal and many people enjoy the product. Now get over it

    February 3, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  15. the blood

    Only in America would this be an issue. Oh wait....no, it's an issue in Quebec too, where it's ILLEGAL to have signs in English and a proposed new law will ban the wearing of Muslim attire in public. The Nazis would be proud guys!! :(

    February 3, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I have many many friends of all nationalities and think America is the land of opportunity which I would never deny anyone but we are a country that speaks English and the National Anthem should have been sung in English and those who want all opportunities given when living in America should learn to speak English.

    February 3, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  17. Diane

    I didn't see anything wrong with this commercial. My thought was that the company was trying to show that America the Beautiful is made up of many different people who all love this country....wouldn't it be nice to teach our children that everyone is different on the outside but pretty much the same on the inside, and no one person is better than the other, no matter what.

    February 3, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  18. laurie

    English is the official language of America, always has been. My Grandparents came to this country and struggled to learn the language, but they did with not much of a formal education.
    This is how important to them it was, and they were proud to do so. If someone comes to this great Country and is to last to learn the language, they should go home.
    Coca Cola was very disrespectful and I will not be buying product any longer. NOT just coke, none of their products.

    February 3, 2014 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Wait, the problem people are having with the Coke commercial is that other languages were singing "American the Beautiful"?!
    Damn...

    1. Are people really so petty and possibly a little bit racist to think that's actually OFFENDING in any way? Other cultures and races and ethnicities live in this country too, you know.

    But most of all..
    2. It's a very small thing to be offended at all, in my opinion.
    Seriously, having problems with that commercial seems to rank very low on my "Things to Have Serious Problems With" list....right above number 99,392 (Not finding a prize in my cereal box) and below number 99,390 (Having the toilet water accidentally splash my ass when I take a crap).

    February 3, 2014 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  20. Liz the First

    Just when you think conservatives can't get any worse! i think the whole party should be declared brain dead and taken off life support. the commercial was beautiful. it shows this country's diversity in all its glory and that's what repugs can't stand. they see the future and they're not in it.

    February 3, 2014 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  21. Doop

    Wow, americans are racist? NOOOOOOO :O SHOCKER

    February 3, 2014 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  22. Angela Ramirez

    We love it, the best commercial!

    February 3, 2014 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  23. Sidney Swan

    Is it written somewhere that states it must be sung in English only?

    February 3, 2014 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  24. Darlene/Utah

    What a beautiful commercial, right along with Cheerios and Budweiser (my three favorites from the superbowl). I have always liked watching things that have a social message, one of the reasons I loved Star Trek growing up. The fact that there is controversary just means that more commercials like this need to be made. These commercials were great with the depth they had- something very rare in commercials. I was actually very suprised there was controversary wtih cheerios with such a beautiful little girl, but this one too?

    February 3, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  25. Jeannine

    I don't think ANY song written to describe America, should be sung in any language other than English. After all it is the designated language for our country.

    February 3, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
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