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. Greg Lyons

    incase noone has noticed the United States does not have a set language, so people speaking "American" and "our language" need to go look up some facts before thinking. Also its just a commercial get over it

    February 3, 2014 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  2. Paul

    They missed Esperanto and 200+ other languages. If they don't include everyone, just stick to English which is as close to universal language you get in not only US but the world at large.

    February 3, 2014 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. mike

    I am a Vietnam Vet – I hate pressing 1 for English and I definitely will not be drinking coke anymore.

    February 3, 2014 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. Name

    No! I did not find the commercial offensive. I loved it!

    February 3, 2014 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  5. Name

    Im sorry but I love coca cola its not going to change even though I didnt like the commercail.

    February 3, 2014 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. fibby

    Coke's ad was great. Apparently some people do not know what it says on the Statue of Liberty. We are a melting pot and have been since the first Europeans came here. My father served in WWII, I served my country FOR FREEDOM Pete Seeger passed away recently and he would be greatly sadden by some of these comments.

    February 3, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  7. JK

    I'm sorry, but at last check, we have no national language. So everyone that comes to America are free to speak any language they wish. America is a melting pot and has been since the 1800s, and at the rate we are going, it will always be. I don't remember seeing this commercial, but after watching it above, I liked it. I may be in the minority, but I think it was pretty strong.

    And oh, by the by, it did exactly what it was supposed to do: it made the people talk. Negative, positive, neutral. Whatever. You're talking about it.

    February 3, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. Janet

    I would just like to point out that the United States does not have an official language at the federal level, and while American English is the de facto way of speaking, there's almost 340 languages spoken within the country. These languages are not just limited to those spoken in other countries: they include sign language and Native American languages. It should also be noted that American English has integrates thousands of words brought my immigrants and their native tongues over the years. Just because the majority of Americans speak English doesn't mean that we should be completely exclusive, and associating more than one language with a national icon isn't offensive. It's understandable for some people to be a bit unnerved by different languages, but you can't be mad at people for not using an official language when there isn't one.

    February 3, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. Denise Kirtley

    While I agree these immigrants should learn English, I respect the beauty of their language. I am not only an American, and speak English, i'm also fluent in sign language. They SHOULD learn English, but we should also respect their language as well.

    February 3, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. Kasey

    This is perfectly okay, because the U.S. doesn't have an official language. Just because the MAJORITY of the U.S. speaks English doesn't mean EVERYBODY has to. U.S. is supposed to = freedom, right?

    February 3, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  11. Hayden James

    So offensive because the Ad is not all English (just reality). But the cans and bottles are all in English which shows the 60 grams of processedsugar! ...but you gobble those up. Its all so funny. Coke would be broke if it wasn't for the USA. Deal with the life altering sugar kids are consuming ...priorities!

    February 3, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. Shocked!!!!

    This is an awesome commercial! Remember people MOST of the people who live here are from family that came here from another country. Who says they can not speak English. That may have been a tribute to all the wonderful people who are Americans but are proud of where their families have been before. We are afterall the melting pot! Or do so many not remember any history?!?!?! If you want American, the Natives were here before most. Their language is actually true American. English is from the UK

    February 3, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. Maggie

    Americans think that they are the best in the whole world! To begin with this land was never theirs it was the Indians so I don't really get it why they get so fussy about this commercial.

    February 3, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  14. #keepinitreal

    I believe that America the beautiful should be sung in any language a person chooses, besides isn't America the land of free home of the brave? It's time for the world to change, singing it on a different.culture does not take away from the meaning of the song. English is not the only language spoken in America and it wasn't the.first.

    February 3, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. Bernie M.

    America is beautiful because of the different people with different languages who came to this country. Before anyone else gets mad about the Coca Cola ad, most likely your ancestors were also immigrants who speak other language except those who came from England. The only people that are originally Americans are the Indians. Where have you been? PEACE people!!
    English is my 2nd language.

    February 3, 2014 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. Emma Jokinen

    Ok America get a grip what about the Native American's each has there own language and many managed to get along just fine. Seriously get over yourself s your not that special

    February 3, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  17. Beejay

    I will proudly continue with Coca-Cola as they did the multi-language commercial. As an America, I have ancestors from many different countries. MY AMERICAN ANGLO background mixed with German, American Indian, Canadian, French, Swiss, French and English heritage welcomes that all of the languages still continued to ring out that AMERICA is BEAUTIFUL! We should be happy about this. People who don't want to see this fact may have issues that go far beyond the language issue.

    February 3, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  18. Noona

    It was a stupid commercial made to cause fighting and misunderstanding.
    Young men have to sign up for selective service. Should there be waivers for each that never learned to speak English?

    All citizens can speak as many languages as they wish, but they all have to have one common language to communicate in as separate but equal does not and never can work.

    February 3, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  19. Jezebel

    Where does it say that you have to speak English? Isn't that old mentality of English shoving their way through other cultures over yet? Just like removing the native language and giving indians Christian names. Its AMERICA. Fight for your culture!!! People should not have to have the right to be their bloodline taken away. EVER.

    February 3, 2014 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  20. tom

    I have a friend from North Dakota whose farmer mother spoke German all her life, never did learn much English. Didn't need it on the farm and her daughter translated for her. Was proud to be an American though and always voted a solid Republican ticket. It's too bad she's gone now, Tea Party people could have put her in a camp and sent her back to Germany.

    February 3, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. D Feeney

    I loved the Coca-Cola commercial. I for one support the diversification of our nation. We were built on our immigrant work-force so why not lift it up. Only small minded people cannot see that it stands for our diversity and strength. It's time we embrace the difference in our nation.

    February 3, 2014 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  22. Nickel1964

    Maybe the problem for some people is it doesn't so much reveal the melting pot aspect of being an American, but just how divided we've become. If they had done the exact same commercial, with the exact same people singing the song – but only in English – then no one would have a problem now. The only real way to show displeasure would be to stop using Coke products. Will that happen? I doubt it. We do what we're told to do by the media.

    February 3, 2014 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  23. sarab

    The fact that so many Americans could find this commercial offensive is just one more reason to be glad I do not live in the U.S.A.

    February 3, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. Jose o

    I speak both English and Spanish but after watching that commercial yesterday I will no longer drink anything with the Coca Cola logo on it.

    February 3, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  25. E

    For heavens sakes people need to do their research before they spew arrogant nonsense about singing a national song in the "national language". The United States is a nation of immigrants and there is NO national language. French is the national language in France, English in the UK, and so on but here we can speak whatever the hell we want without fear of prejudice or racial bigotry like what I'm seeing on this feed.

    February 3, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
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