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. Elsie Leach

    I have no objection to the different languages spoken in the commerical. I do have a big problem with the fact that native americans were not mentioned!.I also feel that everyone should learn Native american as the second language required in all schools!. I really hate the messages we get when we make a phone call. Press one for spanish, press 2 for english. It should be press one for Native American, press two for English. And I am not Native American. Right is right!

    February 3, 2014 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  2. Gloria

    I did not find it offensive... But what they should have done was have all sing it in English not their language ... We are all a mix in America but the national anthem should be sung in English

    February 3, 2014 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  3. BeckyLouWho

    I was a bit disappointed. If we as Americans go to another country, we are expected to learn their language and I think they should learn ours as well. While we are diversified and I don't have a problem with that, I continue to see bits slip away everyday which have made America the Land of the Free and the Home of The Brave, if you will. This is America, we speak English as our primary language, that commercial really left me feeling like what I know and love is no longer important and btw, I can speak 3 other languages, which I use when I travel for work.

    February 3, 2014 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  4. chrys

    Oh ghostwriter did you EVER hit that one on the head! The only post on this forum that actually got it right...

    February 3, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. Ryan

    Wow. America you have a long long way to go. You have become what you hated in your enemies. Intolerant and violent.

    February 3, 2014 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  6. David

    In America, we welcome ALL ethnicities. anyone that wants to come here wether it's for a short stay or for the rest of their life are welcome here. I think this ad is beautiful. I was able to easily follow along as I know the american lyrics to the song and was even singing along with the song. I see NOTHING wrong with this ad and am outraged that it is getting so much negative attention when it's a beautiful ad and Coca Cola should be proud of themselves for coming up with something so beautiful and creative. Those that dislike this ad are wrong in my book because America is a land of many cultures and this ad includes many of those. Keep strong Coca Cola.

    February 3, 2014 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  7. Lauren

    So...all the people saying that this should have been sung in the language of America...they're all talking about Navajo I assume? (Or any one of the other NATIVE American languages)

    February 3, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  8. Aaron

    I'm glad coke has gone the way of the mosaic, with the world so connected, I appreciate that something American is trying to accept other cultures for who they are.

    February 3, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  9. cafemoi

    Where's the debate? These people are idiots.

    February 3, 2014 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  10. Lizzie

    this commercial was beautiful and had a wonderful message...anyone who does not get the message... is both ignorant and stupid

    February 3, 2014 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  11. Lizzie

    I'm not sure if people know this but several languages are spoken among people born in the US...about 2 dozen including Hawaiian...and several Native American languages...to be offended by this commercial shows how dumb you are 🙁

    February 3, 2014 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  12. I Am American

    This is America!! if we were in their country they wouldn't do this for us.

    February 3, 2014 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  13. Anon

    Actually in "America" English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and French are spoken. Cheers.

    February 3, 2014 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. alvarosanchez2014

    I thought being an American was about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not what language you speak.

    February 3, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  15. kathy

    I think the lady debating in this forum is WRONG!!!!! This is America and that song should be sung in English only. The man is correct, if we went to live in other countries we would be EXPECTED to conform to their language and culture why it be any different in AMERICA!!!!!! I LOVE AMERICA but AM ASHAMED of the direction in which we are headed we do not cater to any other languages like we do spanish and that is just WRONG!!!!!!

    February 3, 2014 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  16. DLT

    Beautiful commercial. I'm not a big fan of soda but have to commend Coke for making it. National pride at its best.

    February 3, 2014 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  17. Brian

    Notice that all three people discussing the topic of assimilation are all white...

    February 3, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  18. be

    I guess all you liberals won't be happy til we are all speaking German.

    February 3, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  19. james

    I just want to throw it out there one last time. We are still way to low on colored people in South dakota. I'm not sure why you'd come here in the first place but the invitation is out there. (If only in a few powerless places)

    February 3, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  20. Michelle

    It's having the same effect as a strategic wardrobe malfunction. Brilliant marketing on Coke's part.

    February 3, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  21. Daniel

    people needs to realize that America is becoming a multi-race, multi-language country. people needs to stop being stupid and discriminate against the color of one skin or language.

    February 3, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  22. Laura

    I can't even see the big deal. So its different languages. Fun fact did you know english ISN'T the national language? We have no official national language. Its just more people just so happened to speak english thats all.

    February 3, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  23. douglas russell

    Ridiculous! Who are these idiots? And how disappointing... Does one really suppose that all Americans, not to mention te rest of the world, speaks only English?

    February 3, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  24. Chris

    America was founded as a country for immigrants. We have no official language, and the American dream is open to all people who want to work hard enough to achieve it. American soldiers don't only fight to protect the white english speaking majority in this country. They fight for all current and future citizens, no matter their race, religion, language or home; they keep America Beautiful for anyone who might want to make a better life for themselves. That commercial was not about supporting or appeasing, or ingratiating other countries, it was about saying that the US is still the country it was once, free to all people.

    February 3, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  25. Jim

    What is the problem if a person went to war for your nation and only spoke a foreign lanquage would you complain grow up America .

    February 3, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
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