February 3rd, 2014
11:33 AM ET
9 years ago

Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad ignites online debate

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(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. Lauren

    Thank Coke. A story for you... I have worked retail for ten years. In that ten years only ONE TIME has anyone that did not speak English, actually attempt to communicate with me. The other 1,000+ interactions I've had with foreigners, they stare at me (expecting me to make the effort-because they are lazy, inconsiderate, & ungrateful) and just hand me their medicaid card. That is the behavior that coke is encouraging. On the daily, I am almost taken out on the road by some retarded foreigner that doesn't know how to read the English signs or just doesn't care about the Americans that pay for his/her (& their 12 kids') healthcare!. This is why Americans have an issue with the coke commercial. So, again.. Thanks Coke-you're encouraging the demise of a great America.

    February 3, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  2. viv

    This is America, but darn it all anyway...when you come here to our country...SPEAK English, learn the language, the lifestyle and ALL that America represents for those of us who are American! or GO back where you came from. We don't come to your country and expect you to change!!! We don't want you changing our country! Shame of Coke from trying to diversify America! (that is happening enough w/o you adding to the mix)

    February 3, 2014 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  3. Breanna

    In my opinion, it is the American's song, and it should be sung in our language. They wouldn't be too happy if we sang a song about their nation in our language.

    February 3, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Clearly, CocaCola did not see the movie Borat.

    February 3, 2014 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  5. K B

    For every one of the narrow-minded remark that is made against this commercial I hope there is a kid that ignores your stupidity and learns a foreign language and embraces rather than shuns different cultures. Not everyone that comes to this country or even grew up in this country speaks English. Doesn't make them bad. I took Spanish in high school not because I HAD to but because I WANTED to and trust me folks I went to a redneck high school where flannel was more prevalent than English majors. And those red-blooded redneck kids were right there in Spanish class with me. Some of my friends took German and others took French. Wake up and embrace the global nation folks. Feel sorry for your kids. The English language is one of the most difficult languages to learn. Are you going to pay for all the classes you are demanding these folks take? Didn't think so.

    February 3, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  6. Mary McCall

    It's really OK if a lot of people stop drinking Coca-Cola. It's one of the reasons we have become an obese nation!

    February 3, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  7. Cricket

    Not a single blue eyed blonde in the bunch. Just sayin'

    February 3, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  8. Lauren

    This is stupid, who cares. How about bringing attention to something important, that could save lives?

    February 3, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  9. 1Meh

    Americans once used the term melting pot as a source of pride. A term defining a place with many different cultures and languages unified in supporting a democratic republic. Where a poor immigrant from anywhere had opportunity denied by classism, racism or other forms of discrimination, available to them. I call BS on ever immigrant ever learning English to be successful here. If they have time, money, and support, many do try to learn English, a notoriously hard language. Furthermore, America does not have a national language. So stop being ignorant of history and reality. I'd rather have multiple languages, reflecting our history, singing about what makes our country great, over the idiot intolerance most of the Un-American historically and culturally illiterate fools depicted by the racist or jingoistic posts. You dare call your self American? Pick up a history book and learn why you are foolish.

    February 3, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  10. Name Kate

    I would bet that every single one of you people standing up for Coca Cola have never served a single day in the military!! You have no idea what it took to save this country that you're willing to give away!
    I have never seen such ignorant people in all my life!!

    February 3, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  11. nentwicks rule the world

    Loved the commercial but where were the NATIVE Americans?

    February 3, 2014 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  12. Ohio 2 Erie

    I disagree that the commercial showed ordinary Americans doing ordinary things. All of us who watched it were confused because some scenes looked as if they of children from other countries. We asked, "Why would kids from another country sing 'America the Beautiful?'" The fact that they sang other languages wasn't the problem for us. It just came across weird..

    February 3, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  13. Ohio 2 Erie

    I did not have a problem except that some of the videos seemed to be from other countries. I was confused. All of us watching said, "why would people from other countries sing America the Beautiful?" Didn't have an issue with singing in other languages. It was just confusing.

    February 3, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  14. Justin Burton

    If you all think about it every state has there own way of speaking English... Alaska has there own language, and Hawaii.. I mean yes English is the common language.. But that song kindof opens arms to people saying welcome in we accept you even though u can't speak English.. Come live in the Beautiful land of USA

    February 3, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  15. lulupassau

    Just to let you americans know, the Super Bowl ads are only shown in america. They are not even shown in Canada. no one knows what you are talking about, only us that watch things online 🙂 I loved the commercial,but these are only for americans 🙂

    February 3, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  16. America doesn't have an official language

    The USA doesn't have a national language, so there is no reason to assume that any song about America should only be sung in English.

    February 3, 2014 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
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