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. Rebekah

    Why are people offended by this commercial? Do you not know what America is? It's not just plain white folks who speak English. America is made up of all different races, cultures, and languages. If you can't accept that then YOU shouldn't be here.

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

    People forget that not that long ago, their ancestors came over here from other countries. We are all immigrants in one way or another.!

    February 3, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. SGT Rock101

    The myth of one language in this country needs to stop. Up to WW1 many cities hand multi language newspapers whose readers were loyal American immigrants. The fever against Germany, and then all non English speaking people, caused the death of these news papers. The immigrants Anglisized their names to hide their heritage. The nation was not fractured into several "countries" then and are not now by singing that song in many languages. Back off the caffine and, in some cases, cocaine, and get a grip. What unites us is the desire to participate in the on going economic juggarnaugt.

    February 3, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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
    -------------------------------------------------
    BAM!!
    And down goes Frazier!
    Well said.

    February 3, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Billy Bob

    Humm, America was inhabitied by Natives that spoke hundreds of languages, not "English", then America was discovered by an Icelander, then a Portuguese explorer (who spoke Portuguese) and then Columbus who was sailing under the Spainish flag. Then Dutch, Geman and French settlers, just to name a few, set up home here. Then we were ruled by the English for a couple of hundred years (no English and American are not the same language). "American" has been the official language of this country for how long? Oh, it hasnt been.

    Get an education America

    February 3, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. John Davis

    I only have one thing to say. "Different hearts, different minds, but one nation."

    February 3, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. rs

    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".
    __________________
    It isn't our nation's anthem, and you have obviously never really listened to the song's lyrics.

    February 3, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    First of all, if Allan West and Laura Ingraham are offended, then you know the ad is right. Second, this is an ad for Coke; is it really that important for an ad promoting a soft drink pass muster with the RWNJs, or that it help a company that is synonymous with this country? What is more important?

    February 3, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Next up the GOP/Teatrolls will be demanding that the country's official language be changed to Aramaic. What a festival of derp these people are.

    February 3, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. GWeisz

    The USA is multicultural, and English is not its official language, so the idea was great.
    Too bad, though, that the alleged Spanish line is not understandable at all because that girl doesn't really speak Spanish... (Do things well or don't do them at all).

    February 3, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Colum Wickerd

    A privilege of being American is knowing that no matter where you were born and/or what culture you grew up in, people will accept you. Language is part of culture. This is the land of the free, not the land of the english speaking.

    February 3, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    its amazing to me that a company located in the heart of the red states, one that is synonymous with the country, has somehow convinced some conservatives that they actually plotted to bring down the Republic with an ad that underscores the fact that not everyone in the country speaks English, but yet this will somehow bring about the demise of our way of life. The Balkanization has been brought into sharper focus by those who benefit from distracting us from the fact we have an amazing, strong and diverse nation, not because we think like robots but because we can argue and still come together when it really matters.

    February 3, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. Upset in Texas

    America is the land of the diverse. We are made up of people from all over the world, always have been and showing that was OK. However, our language is English and Coca-Cola disrespected this country. my country, by singing America the Beautiful in other languages. This commercial should be banned from every being shown again.

    February 3, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Dfar

    I love folks who scream about diversity yet scorn those that disagree with their views. Oh the irony! As far as looking back at history, to those folks I say that the immigrants back then thought it right that they should learn the English language and rightly so. Yes we are diverse in ethnicity but the language should still be English. It's been that way for 394 years. Now had Coke picked their usual song and made it mulch-linguistic I don't think folks would have had much of an issue. However, using something that is kin to the Star Spangled Banner is offensive in some eyes or ears in this instance. As you ask those who disagree with you, then do as you ask... be silent.

    February 3, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    This is a fight between Coke and conservatives. I say stay out of it and watch from the sidelines.

    February 3, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Upset in Texas

    America is the land of the diverse. We are made up of people from all over the world, always have been and showing that was OK. However, our language is English and Coca-Cola disrespected this country. my country, by singing America the Beautiful in other languages. This commercial should be banned from every being shown again.
    -------------------------------
    Do you get this upset when they translate a movie like "Gone With The Wind" into another language?

    February 3, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Dfar

    I love folks who scream about diversity yet scorn those that disagree with their views. Oh the irony! As far as looking back at history, to those folks I say that the immigrants back then thought it right that they should learn the English language and rightly so. Yes we are diverse in ethnicity but the language should still be English. It's been that way for 394 years. Now had Coke picked their usual song and made it mulch-linguistic I don't think folks would have had much of an issue.
    -------------------------------------
    Hasn't it even occured to any of you that the Super Bowl broadcast went out all over the world?

    February 3, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. Marie MD

    My drink of choice Coca Cola, one of my favorite cereals Cheerios and I can't remember the other commercial with two gay dads and their little girl.
    All in all, it's not just the country but world we live in and if it causes the teaklans and repugs to go berserk then let's have more of these commercials here and abroad.
    People need to get over themselves and accept people for who they are.

    February 3, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. BBunsen

    Considering our history, perhaps the song should have been sung in Native American languages.

    February 3, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  20. Gwiz

    for a tv commercial u people sure are opinionated but in a week when coke is on sale you"ll buy it because most of us who are the kids and grandkids of immigrants will need to save money to pay the $4 for gas and 1000 for rent

    February 3, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  21. Peter Trainor

    Why do they call the winners the World Champion? What other nations are playing against the NFL? Same with baseball the World Series? The USA Champion would be more fitting. First we want to take the name America when is a large vast continent then we also want to assume the USA is also the world? Arrogance to it finest.

    February 3, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    I am proud to live in a country that is finally(!) fighting back bigotry by gently chastising those who should know better than to use bigotry as a political tool against their fellow citizens yet continue to do so daily.

    February 3, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. jeff garrett

    america is a song of and about america it should never ever be sung in language except english. the languge of america. you should not be allowed to become an american unless you can read, write, and understand the english language!!!!!!! period!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 3, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  24. Jesse Bostwick

    So I am of the confederated tribes of Siletz, and this was a beautiful commercial, let me remind everyone that english is not the language of this land. So to hear people saying learn the language or go home, please learn a Native language or go home. I honestly do not agree with that though, I feel that all the cultures in this nation are what make it so beautiful. My people were forced to forget their language and traditions almost to the point where they were lost to history. I never want that to be forced on anyone else. Please people practice tolerance and acceptance, learn from the other cultures.

    February 3, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  25. Peter Trainor

    To the many ignorant folks in here " then America was discovered by an Icelander, then a Portuguese explorer (who spoke Portuguese) and then Columbus who was sailing under the Spanish flag."
    America is the whole continent from the tip of Canada all the way down to Argentina and Chile.
    we are all Americans! Also Cristobal Colon, that was the name as he was known and the name his children's children passed along, instead of Columbus. NOBODY ever called him that name while he was alive. He never LANDED in the USA. Only in the Latin, Spanish, French and Portuguese, part of America. Others Spanish conquistadors were the first European to land and settled in the USA.

    February 3, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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