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. Psjlt

    For all of those bloggers here who can only resort to name-calling (ie: bigots, racists, xenophobic, redneck, moron, overly-sensitive, small-minded, etc, etc. etc.), I call foul! The United States of America is indeed a melting pot, but we do have traditions and standards of our own. When this commercial first began, there was silence in the room full of otherwise noisy people. It was emotional, inspiring and beautiful, ONLY up until the point when the words were sung in foreign languages. Personally I was insulted and found it disturbing. When so many our our ancestors felt such pride upon first stepping foot upon United States soil. They felt it was their greatful duty to assimilate into their new land they would soon call home. This song elicits such deep emotional ties from true Americans. It was written in english and it would behove Coca-cola and all other advertisers in our great nation to consider such insults to those who hold tradition in high regard. It would have been an even more beautiful commercial and gained great respect if those singing in foreign tongues would have been using their own foreign accents to sing this national treasure of a song in english. We, just as other great nations do NOT assimilate to foreigners visiting or living in our land. I am personally ashamed that we have lost the pride in our language. I am also very glad that we are still a great melting pot of many peoples and can benefit immensely from each other. But our ability to speak a common language is vital to our continued success toward our goal of freedom. We must stand tall and not falter when it comes to basics in our own country.

    February 3, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Anne

    I actually have a problem with people not being able to look at it like the way I do. Seriously,you felt bad it was sung in different languages and claiming yourself not being a racist? Wow! I am amazed with how narrow minded some proud americans are!

    February 3, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Dot

    Loved it!

    February 3, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. Albert

    Their superiority was shaken by a song expressed in different languages. Aren't they supposed to show appreciation? They are just wallowing in fear of being conquered culturally. It's funny that you have conquered almost all of the universe only to be threatened by a song sung in various languages.

    February 3, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  5. Steven L Blamy

    I don't believe that people in this country can be so narrow minded and self centered as to condemn the commercial because the song is sung in different languages. You stupid racist idiots. Open your mind and breath in the whole population of the world. We are all part of the human race but I fear you who don't care for that commercial are from another place a very dark place a place that I hope will just dye away as time goes on. You people are why we have so many wars and so much hate in the world.

    February 3, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Name LD

    The first true Americans were native. Maybe everyone should be upset because it wasn't sang in the Lakota language.

    February 3, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. The don

    And people wonder why the rest of the world hate Americans so much.

    February 3, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Nameshirl McLaughlin

    People need to chill out re Coke commercial!
    Nothing wrong with a bit of multi commercialism! If the truth be known , may be there should have been a representation of the "Official Native Americans" included:)

    February 3, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. Jeffrey Schultz

    Seriously I never thought I would see the day were AMERICANS were complaining about being AMERICAN.

    February 3, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Matt

    There's a vast, VAST difference between retaining your heritage and refusing to assimilate at all with the local culture. In ANY other country in the world, it would be disrespectful to not try or outright refuse to learn the language and customs of the country you live in. If you moved to the U.S. 15 years ago and still cant speak english, then why the hell are you here? If you sincerely dont want anything to do with this country, then get out. I don't have to conform to you. You CERTAINLY don't have to change your heritage or conform to mine, but at least have some damn respect for mine and learn the language if you're going to live in this country.

    February 3, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Tara

    When will Americans remember that English does not equal "American". English developed in ENGLAND. The place that Americans fought the Revolutionary war to be free from. Maybe America should develop it's own language, then they can say that patriotic songs should only be in the language of America!

    February 3, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. Derek

    I don't necessarily have a problem with the coke commercial, however that being said it used to be that if you wanted to become a US citizen you had to learn the history of the country and learn to speak English.Personally I don't see the importance to learning the history of the country, but they should go back to enforcing that immigrants learn English before being granted citizenship. If I want to learn another language I'll just call a customer service number. Respectfully if I were to visit or move to another country I would learn their native language before doing so.

    February 3, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. Anon

    Well excuse me! i didn't know that not speaking English Could be so "non-American", for all I know, they love this country more than the ones born on it. last time i check, it was 2014 not 1774.

    February 3, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  14. JaredK

    This didn't "ignite a debate," it just brought out the bigots.

    February 3, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. Bonnie

    So sick of this.. if I move to another country... ai would need to learn the language... should be law... stop making it so easy to allow these people who want to be here but not learn the language

    February 3, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  16. Albert

    Their superiority was shaken by a song expressed in different languages. Aren't they supposed to show appreciation? They are just wallowing in fear of being conquered culturally. It's funny that they have conquered almost all of the universe only to be threatened by a song sung in various languages.

    February 3, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |

    For one , official or unofficial our language in this country is English , my grandfather came from a foreign country and learned english when he came here , I think that it was degrading to all Americans to have America the Beautiful sung in any other language but english , for 2 we speak english in America learn it or shut the hell up

    February 3, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. smackDaddy

    People who are disgusted with the Coke ad and wish to switch over to Pepsi BEWARE : the CEO is an Indian and the President a Muslim!!! hahahahaha

    February 3, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Diana

    America is supposed to be the melting pot, with everyone assimilating. This commercial does not represent this idea. Speak English (with a different accent) but that is the way the song should have been presented.

    February 3, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  20. Reynaldo

    Even the name America comes from another language.

    February 3, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  21. lrc manager

    Is America only Beautiful in English? You should be proud that so many people of diverse cultures, races and languages believe in those words and want to share in your ideals of freedom!

    "O beautiful for heroes proved
    In liberating strife.
    Who more than self their country loved
    And mercy more than life!"

    People in other countries are dying because they want their countries to have the freedoms and ideals you seemingly take for granted. They would literally sacrifice an arm or a leg or their lives to give their children a chance of freedom and liberation. And for those that have been fortunate to gain sanctuary in your country – well, it takes time to learn another language. So, please, lighten up! Be glad that you live in a free country.

    February 3, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. Lisa P.


    Coke is in the business of selling a product to as many customers as possible. They tried to hit their target group by showing that as citizens, we are unified in patriotism while we are diverse culturally. Coke did this by having a great American song sung in many languages representing our diversity. They did a great job, and I suggest to those people who were offended that they seriously consider why they really had a problem with it.
    February 3, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm

    Next I'm sure we'll see laws proposed that specify that Coke can only be drunk with "American" foods - hamburgers, French fries (or are they "freedom fries" now?), apple pie - because the sight of anyone drinking a Coke with one of those "foreign" foods (like chow mein, pizza or tacos) is highly offensive to members of the Patriotic League of the Perpetually Outraged. Now that PLoPO has decided that the First Amendment doesn't *really* apply (at least not when it comes to other people) where their tender cultural sensibilities are involved...

    February 3, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Tammy

    I find it silly that people are getting upset about this commercial. It was beautiful.

    February 3, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. Dockgsp

    different races and ethnicity doing ordinary American activities, Except speaking English.

    February 3, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  25. Marci Verbrugge

    It's great

    February 3, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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