February 3rd, 2014
11:33 AM ET
9 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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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?
    -------------------------------------------------
    OMG Jon!
    Evidently you have no idea how many "hit " songs, or jsut plain beautiful songs are translated each and every year so that they may be enjoyed in-language by people around the world.
    It is so scary to see that you, and others on here don't get the whole "music brings the world together" concept.

    February 3, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. Blue Blazer

    The best part of this whole thing is that "America the Beautiful" is a poem, written by a citizen of a foreign country. It was a poem written by an English college professor, touring Colorado on holiday. She was so amazed by the scenery, that she wrote the poem. So, a FOREIGNER praised the beauty of America. It's okay for us to utilize it as a patriotic song, but people are SO WANTING TO BE OFFENDED that they take homage with foreigners reciting the poem in their native tongue. It's hilarious to me, when you know the facts. And I'm disappointed that no news media is publishing that very important fact!

    February 3, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. Santo domingo pueblo Native American

    America The Beautiful was sang lovely in one of the true 1st Native American languages "Keres " thank you Coca Cola keep up the great work.

    February 3, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. MeMelvin

    The negative responses above to both the Coca-Cola and Cheerios ads clearly demonstrate that too many "Americans" are xenophobic, parochial, racist, unempathetic, hypocritcal, monolinguistic, and, worst of all, truly uneducated! Most of us came from "some place else" some five hundred years ago. Time to grow up!

    February 3, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Squeezebox

    If you want to do "America the Beautiful" in languages other than English, the ones to use are Navajo, Sioux, Cherokee, American Sign, and other languages used by it's citizens.

    February 3, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. ABarker

    It's just a commercial – of no more significance than any other. I speak English, if you want to talk to me or you need something from me, you'll need to as well.

    February 3, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Robert wrote:

    I knew the instant I heard it that teabaggers and racists would hate it.
    -----------------------------
    Me, too. I had a Jack and Coke, and a smile.

    February 3, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. John

    If it upset people like Allen West and the Tea Party then it was obviously a good thing.

    February 3, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Bessy

    People really have to learn to " chill out ". I thought that the ad was a very clever invention, especially since America is made of up people who speak many languages. That is what this country is all about.
    As for the Cheerios commercial, I love it. Never even noticed that it was a bi-racial couple when I first saw it. Only when I read that it was " ticking off " some bigots did I see it. It is cute and a very clever idea.
    People are always looking for something to complain about and that is the real reason this country is in the mess it is in.

    February 3, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. Grafted Olive Branch

    The problem is that it is a long time since I can remember even hearing "America the Beautiful" song in English.

    February 3, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. NoDisgrace

    I like america the beautiful better than that other song.

    February 3, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Bayousara

    Such small-minded people! Most of them from immigrant stock! What is wrong with being bilingual? Our kids who learn other languages have more job opportunities and a richer cultural life.

    February 3, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. smith

    Im failing to understand the big deal here both the Coke and Cheerio concepts have already been done and nobody complained. Last week I saw a commercial for swift jet mops with a White husband his Black wife and their bi-racial child and not one word. Something is off here.

    February 3, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. MeMelvin

    Ya know...

    The "Lord's Prayer" was orginally recited in Hebrew and/or Greek. By the logic of some folks above, It would only count with the Divine, if you pray it in the original Hebrew and./or Greek.

    Similarly, the Magna Carta was original issued in Latin. By the logic of some folks above, our Supreme Court should conduct its business in Latin.

    Somethings for hard core anglophiles to think about. What we have in English today originated in other languages.
    Care for an hors d'oeuvre to go with your Coke?

    February 3, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Jerry

    I found it to be a wonderful commercial that shows off how diverse America really is with its many cultures, ethnic groups and languages.

    February 3, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    You just knew that the GOP/TP Klan would be upset. Their problem is that all of America belongs to only them. Allen West of all people needs to come off of his high horse. He is lucky that the Republicans chose him as a token. See America these clowns are only changing their stance for the mid-term elections to win and that is all. They still do not get it. Please vote these crazy people out of office period. They are so out of touch.

    February 3, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Blue Blazer

    The best part of this whole thing is that "America the Beautiful" is a poem, written by a citizen of a foreign country. It was a poem written by an English college professor, touring Colorado on holiday. She was so amazed by the scenery, that she wrote the poem. So, a FOREIGNER praised the beauty of America.
    -------------------------------------------------
    It would've truly been poetic justice if it had been written by a foreigner, but it was in fact written by American-born Katherine Lee Bates from Massachussetts.
    Darn!

    February 3, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Dr.Pepper_drinker

    People are upset because traditional patriotic songs should be sung in the language that they were written in. Period!......

    February 3, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. lynn

    As soon as the song was finished I went to FB and said how I hated the rendition. How dare they insult a song so many American's regard as "The National Anthem".

    February 3, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. Tony

    The song is "America the Beautiful," not "English is America's Official Language." America was beautiful before the English-speaking people discovered it, and it is still beautiful even though some Americans have not learned to speak English.

    February 3, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. Linguist

    Did you know that 75% of our words in English were "borrowed" from other languages during the course of our history. (Winford 2005:29)

    It kind of puts that whole "you're in America. Speak English" thing in perspective.

    February 3, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Msnbc, you are hereby authorized to recant your gutless apology.
    -----------------
    Hear! Hear!
    ==========================================================
    Hypocrisy. We have all of these complaints about the Coca-Cola ad, but not one complaint about the Cheerios ad.

    February 3, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. NoDisgrace

    Nice job by the opera singer. The others aren't qualified to sing in the shower.

    February 3, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. MarcNJ

    lynn: As soon as the song was finished I went to FB and said how I hated the rendition. How dare they insult a song so many American's regard as "The National Anthem".
    -----
    But it's not.

    February 3, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Wake up People!

    Well I missed it but I love Coke. I'm sipping one right now. And I do remember an old Coke commercial from my younger days and I loved it!

    February 3, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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