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. Kim Wilson

    The Coke ad was beautiful and made my heart swell with the thought of living in such an all-inclusive accepting country. Of course there are always small-minded ignorant people out there. They are often loud and obnoxious and cause the rest of us to shake our heads in pity. Sadly it is true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and in these times the grease is media attention. Anyone who finds this ad offensive does not understand or believe in America.

    February 3, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. JudasKnows

    Thank you coke and cheerios .....this will be my new breakfast i eat while watching the OTHERS keep losing as their party continues to implode

    February 3, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. carol

    Thank you Coke for admitting the US is diverse. The founders made a conscience decision not to have a pray at the signing of the founding documents and to not have an official language. I for one understand the strength of the US comes from that diversity. Just as "GOD" made all people different so should a country accept that diversity. To Be American meaning understanding that "All men are created equal" and embracing that difference. By the way Jefferson first used that phrase to defend a black man. So don't tell me he didn't mean it that way.

    February 3, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. rs

    S.B. Stein

    Didn't Coke do a commercial like that before years ago? We need to come to the understanding that we as a country are tossed salad (some things bind us together but there are clearly seperate parts making the whole). We also need to get our children to know more languages so that we can communicate with other parts of the world that don't speak English.
    There was the wonderful "its the real thing" and all its varient versions- including the foreign language one. This sort of togetherness meme has been a Coke selling point for years. The Right's collective cultural Alzhiemers prevents them from remembering that.

    February 3, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. John Paul

    I agree. The muti-language Coca Cola ad was more of a tribute to Obama's invasion of the United States of America using an army of illegal immigrants who steal our nation by squatting, LYING, benefit fraud, anchor babies and then voting to apprehend our nation just as if they had come in with tanks and guns. And no fraud is bigger than Obama himself. No one should EVER buy Coca-Cola again. Let that unamerican company rot on the ash heep of history.

    February 3, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. Jonathan

    In the furor over the language issue, what people really didn't catch is how insulting to some of the portrayals in the commercial were. Several of the "ethnic" representatives in this commercial were hideous and exaggerated caricatures that were genuinely insulting to those of us that were "portrayed" by one or more of these stereotypes.
    I do not find the language as divisive and problematic as I do the racist portrayals they decided to use.

    February 3, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. TH

    I thought it was just simple marketing stunt toward non-English speaking folks. Native English speakers may be fed up with unhealthy Coke products.

    February 3, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. Jonathan

    In the furor over the language issue, what people really didn't catch is how insulting to some of the portrayals in the commercial were. Several of the so-called ethnic representatives in this commercial were hideous and exaggerated caricatures that were genuinely insulting to those of us that were "portrayed" by one or more of these stereotypes.
    I do not find the language as divisive and problematic as I do the derogatory portrayals they decided to use.

    February 3, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. bob

    @DG Cooper

    hiow can the woman be using someone else's documents to work and not be paying taxes? the people who use bogus work papers pay into the system, but they dont get any of the benefits of doing so. the irs doesnt care if the SNN is legit, they will still gladly accept the withholdings.

    February 3, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. FrankA

    Coca Cola and General Mills went beyond advertising their products and started pushing social agendas. This may or may not be good for the bottom line. We'll just have to wait and see.

    February 3, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This was insulting to US citizens for which this song is directly connected. Done right this ad could have shown diverse immigrants trying to sing in their imperfect English
    I'm a U.S. citizen and it was NOT insulting to me nor the 20 plus other U.S. citizens enjoying the Super Bowl at my home.
    Additionally, Jon, you, or someone like you, would've been up in arms about the immigrants massacring and dishonoring the song by NOT singing it in perfect English.
    The point is that you can't win with people like you.

    February 3, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. Al

    Why is some people angry about learning other languages or from other cultures? The diversity made US the country it is right now.. I think there is a big cultural problem in this country. Hey, If we think US is the only country in the world then I think it is the begining of the end!! Remember what happened to other ancient empires!

    February 3, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. i'malib

    I didn't like the ad, and I like Pepsi.

    February 3, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. CanThinkForMyself

    I though it was the best ad of the night! I'm surprised to see this controversy but do understand that some honestly feel it was wrong. I personally think diversity is the main thing we need to improve in this country. I'm not in support of illegal aliens (the word illegal explains why), but we can do a much better job accepting others that are different from us.

    February 3, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. FastEddie

    One of the main things that define a country is a language. When, in the name of "tolerance", we continue to facilitate the ability function without integration into American society, it undermines the intent of welcoming those who wish to make a new life here. Having pride in one's heritage is wonderful but accommodation can quickly change into disintegration of our own American culture. What's next, the Spar Spangled Banner being sung in Spanish at next years Super Bowl?

    February 3, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Coke IS IT!!!
    Thank you Coca-Cola.

    February 3, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. just me

    Msnbc, you are hereby authorized to recant your gutless apology. Henry Miller, you are hereby challenged to name something, anything, that can't be blamed on the federal government.

    February 3, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. ItsJustMe

    Just remember our ancestors came to this county from all over the world. America is a melting pot. We are made up of many.

    February 3, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. scott

    I liked the Coke add but it felt forced. I mean you cant always tell what language someone can speak by their face now can you?

    February 3, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. Eric

    people need to forget about these drinks anyway they still contain the caramel coloring chemical called 4-methylimidazole it causes cancer.

    February 3, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. JudasKnows

    What does Cheerios , The Grammys, Coke and the AG in Virginia have in common?....keeps the conservatives talking and in doing so diminshes their chances of ever winning in the FUTURE

    February 3, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. reldra

    Great "America the Beautiful" Coke commercial. Sort of reminded me of "I'd like to buy the world a coke". So sad conservatives and republicans can get up in arms about a soda commercial.

    February 3, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. SI67

    I don't remember much about the commercial, but if it upsets Allen West, it can't be all bad.

    February 3, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. Robert

    I knew the instant I heard it that teabaggers and racists would hate it.

    February 3, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. Liberal Lion

    Awesome commercial!!!!! Thanks Coke for pointing out all of the good America has to offer. I have always been a Coke drinker and will remain loyal. To those bigots who continue to use patriotism and the Bible as tools of racism....SHAME ON YOU!

    February 3, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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