February 3rd, 2014
11:33 AM ET
6 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. JudasKnows

    Have to love David Plouffe, as the Conservatives and Fox News try to be inclusive,their Followers are but in a uproar over this....HILLARY2016

    February 3, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein

    Didn't Coke do a commercial like that before years ago? We need to come to the understanding that we as a country are tossed salad (some things bind us together but there are clearly seperate parts making the whole). We also need to get our children to know more languages so that we can communicate with other parts of the world that don't speak English.

    February 3, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Silence DoGood

    @Jojola
    Might I suggest to those who found the coke ad offensive, please never visit Disneyland and take the "It's a small world" tour. Spoiler alert: It's song in about every language imaginable. I can't believe what ignites fiery in some people.
    ---------
    (hyperbole alert) The first thing a socialist regime does is construct Disneylands.

    February 3, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. DG Cooper

    While I don't speak for everyone, I think it can be safely assumed that some of the vitriol toward the Coke ad may just be based on the fact that certain races get a free pass for citizenship into this country and don't even want to put out the effort to learn any English whatsoever.

    I personally work with a woman, who has been here illegally for 10 years. Our company looks the other way on the fact that she's using someone else's documents to work. She came here as an adult and cannot speak or understand a word of English. She does not pay taxes. She gets to take home 100% of what she earns, unlike the rest of the workers at the plant. It's little facts like that, Ron L., that make people upset about certain aspects of multiculturalism.

    February 3, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    What a bunch of "Ugly Americans" getting all bent out of shape because the song wasn't sung in english.
    Are these people aware that popular songs, be they American, spanish, etc are sung in-language in various countries?
    Are the same people complaining about the Coca Cola ad the same folks that show up in other countries on vacation and EXPECT those they encounter there to speak ENGLISH?
    Give yourselves and us a rest.

    February 3, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. rs

    One can only conclude the Right is insane. Really, people, really? A song sung in a different language incites your anger? Over SODA?

    February 3, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. ann

    Let look at the real deal. Pepsi targeting all to drink there nutritionally worthless drink. I feel sorry that all impressed/unimpressed with this ad are just ploy to a marketing tactic to pull more people into buying.

    February 3, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Dina

    Funny, I saw it as people of all different backgrounds, countries, and
    cultures loving America. I love that idea!

    February 3, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. JudasKnows

    The not so tolerant Party? Of fox viewers are surely going to keep losing elections unless they smart up

    February 3, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. CodeBlitz

    Boycott Coke. I am calling for a boycott, Coke as gone too far with this. Personally, I will never again purchase Coke or Coke products. As Americans we need to make a voice heard. Let remind Coke that America is not the world, it is America and we speak English here!

    February 3, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Jon

    Coke really screwed up. This was insulting to US citizens for which this song is directly connected. Done right this ad could have shown diverse immigrants trying to sing in their imperfect English, showing their excited desire to become American citizens.

    February 3, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    HenryMiller wrote:

    “The last thing any of us should want to see is a balkanized America,”

    We're already well along in the process of at least social balkanisation. Urban Americans daily express their contempt for rural America, and the favour is returned. Coastal Americans express disdain for fly-over Americans. "Poor" Americans express their envy of and vindictiveness toward wealthier Americans.

    This is what happens when an overbearing federal government tries to cram us all into one-size-fits-all governance. One size doesn't fit all, and among those for whom the straitjacket is too confining, the effort fuels resentment if not hatred.
    ------------------------------------
    This is what happens to your brain when you don't drink clean water. I have no idea what this person is talking about. They seem to be projecting their own emotions, the envy, resentment, and vindictiveness, onto others. What the federal government has to do with the ad beyond my understanding, and I'm thankful for it.

    February 3, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. JD

    I absolutely loved the ad, although I feared there would be an uproar from the usual suspects. For God's sake, the Heritage Foundation liked it. I'm waiting for Allen West's announcement that they are no longer American enough. Senator Murkowski better watch out too. A pack of right wing candidates will no doubt challenge her in her next election over this very issue.

    February 3, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. NameCharlie Scott

    Way to go Coke! I will order you for now on due to that ad!

    February 3, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Pander Bear

    Love how the right wing gets all puffed up about a tweet that implies there are racists among them and then when the racist among them show up, still continue to get outraged that anyone would call them on it.

    February 3, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. Barbara James

    There are serious problems in this country, and people are worried about commercials? SMH

    February 3, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. Jon

    Tell me why any person who does not have English as their 1st language would even think of singing this beautiful poem, written in English, in anything but English?

    February 3, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Rachel

    The Coke commercial was dumb. It's bad enough we are forced to have to "press 1 for english" these days and now we have to watch America The Beautiful being sung in different languages? No thanks.

    February 3, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. freedom

    The Budweiser ads were the best!

    February 3, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  20. Thomas

    The only Coca Cola that tastes good is made in Mexico with raw cain sugar , and now they want to stop making it al together
    I'm switching to Pepsi , coke gives way to much money to conservative anti environmental causes .

    I wan't the Real thing , not corn syrup !

    February 3, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. TG

    Last time I looked....America isn't just limited to the United States.....There is North America.....Central America ...... and South America........we have not cornered the market on America.

    February 3, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  22. Kim

    Have to agree. It is AMERICA the Beautiful and should be sung in English. Yes I understand what they were getting at however it missed the mark by a mile.
    America is made of of many nationalities. That is the idea! America is made of them, not them making their own mini country in America. If you came here to be an American then be an American. I see nothing wrong with embracing your own nationality but your nationality comes from somewhere else. If that is what you love then that is where you should be.
    I hold no allegiance to my ancestors. They came here to become American and willingly gave up their heritage to become Americans. I was born here and I am an American. I would NOT go to someone else's country and expect them to sing my anthem, learn my language or customs, etc. How many other countries do you know of that will accommodate foreigners to the point they don't have to learn the language, etc. So why do we do it here?

    February 3, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Trebec

    The commercial was fine. America is diverse with all colors and languages. I feel living in the most diverse county is something to be proud of and something to embrace. Having a variety of cultures is great, we can learn from each other. I always thought diversity in America was what made it special – where everybody should be welcomed and everyone is afforded the same rights and freedoms of all people living in America – where people can hold onto their roots while flowering a connection with the rest of society. That said, language, is important and we all need to be able to communicate to one another. Language is the key to integration.

    February 3, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. Peter Trainor

    When the New World was discovered by the Spaniards, over 100 yrs before the UK landed here, the name that was given was AMERICA which goes all the way from the tip of Canada all the way down to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and Chile. We are all AMERICANS!!

    February 3, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Pat

    Hated the Coke commercial. Part of the reason America's academic scores have decreased so much over the last several decades is that too many children enter school without having even a basic command of English. As long as we can't segregate ESL students until they're up-to-speed with their peers, we'll continue to fall behind the rest of the world.

    February 3, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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