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

Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad ignites online debate

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'] [twitter-follow screen_name='KilloughCNN']

(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. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    Diversity was, is and always will be our strength! If you believe we are an exceptional nation, then you need to accept that we are a nation of immigrants, bound together by our desire to live in a country where we enjoy the freedom to be who we each uniquely are.

    Coca Cola and General Mills aren't "pushing a social agenda" with their ads; they are recognizing the reality that their customer base is diverse!

    February 3, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. HanBir

    I am a moderate republican and I do not feel the Coke ad is political in any way. There are bigots on both sides of the spectrum, just as there are kind, tolerant people. I also do not see that this has anything to do with Fox TV. What I saw a beautiful ad featuring the true strength of our country, its diversity. To those haters out there who saw anything different, I would suggest if you want to hear America the Beautiful sung in the language it “belongs to” you may want to bone up on your Cherokee or Seminole as those would be some of the languages that, by all rights, this song should belong to, the original Americans.

    February 3, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    @Johnathan: "I do not find the language as divisive and problematic as I do the derogatory portrayals they decided to use."

    Give an example ...

    February 3, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. nik green

    Would you ever consider putting Coca-Cola in your pet's water dish?

    February 3, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Fox really gets under Obama and Hilary's skin. How embarrassing. One is the president, and one wants to be. They're not made of much if a news organization can ruffle them that much."

    Hillary: Playful joke at Faux's expense.

    Obama: Just let Bill O'Reilly try to cross-examine him.

    Preibus: Threatens to boycott several networks and then boycotts MSNBC because MSNBC correctly pointed out how much conservatives hate advertisements that depict and remind them of the country's growing diversity.

    Yeah, it's totally Hillary and Obama who need a tissue over certain news networks and their coverage.

    February 3, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Kathleen

    I thought the ad was excellent. I am a dedicated Coke drinker, and I like how the company used the money I've given them.

    February 3, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. sally

    Coke's ad was interesting and visually beautiful...it was somewhat difficult to understand its message until deep into the commercial. While I like the message, I don't like being mystified for that long.

    February 3, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. JudasKnows

    What does coke,cheerios,the Grammys and the New Virginia AG have in common? They keep the conservative Party in an uproar insuring future political losses

    February 3, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC


    Tell me why any person who does not have English as their 1st language would even think of singing this beautiful poem, written in English, in anything but English?
    I'll tell you under one condition. Tell us why some people who use English as their first language would get so upset because "America The Beautivul" is sung in a different language.

    February 3, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. Tom

    Is this an issue outside the wacko right-wing echo chamber? I doubt it.

    February 3, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. linda123

    Alan West should shut his yap. Since he was voted out of office after one term, that should be his clue that no one is interested in anything he has to say.

    February 3, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  12. sly

    Good job Coke and Cherrios of recognizing our true America. Most of the racists come from families who spoke Italian or Irish instead of English.

    Hey Confederates – if you don't like it here, go back to Saudi Arabia or Germany or wherever you are from.

    America: Love it or Leave It

    February 3, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Adam

    I loved the Coke Commercial. It represents the dream every immigrants hope for when they come here. I was born in Korea but I'm all for making English our national language. The multi lingual song didn't bother me because it represents the diverse background of our country. Unless you're Native Americans, weren't we all descendants of immigrants from a different culture and language? Yet we all assimilated and didn't force the country to speak a different language. It's no different with the new immigrants to our country.

    February 3, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Don

    Just left the store.......been drinking Coke solely for about 20 years. Bought something different. Attacking those people of faith again by insinuating that our beliefs are not tolerant..... I for one am done with this product. I've also started paying attention to Hollywood and will NOT support movies made by child rapists! I know you are going to tell me that he can't help who is is attracted to but marrying your adopted daughter, 40years younger and the other says you raped her is just TOO SICK for me.... Support it with your dollars but I will NOT.

    February 3, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. IndyMike

    The Coke commercial and the Cheerios commercial represent what America is in 2014. You don't have to like it and you can express your disapproval by not buying the product. But this is the way things are now, not 50 years ago.

    February 3, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Doug in NYC

    Boy with Coke pushing diversity, Pepsi promoting LGBT rights and Michelle Obama promoting the drinking of water, the republicants have nothing left to drink.

    February 3, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. Jai

    They're taking offense to the ad for its use of foreign language usage? Every language in the commercial was foreign including English or "American" as some have called the language". Sing it in one of the 500+ remaining Federally Recognized Native American Nations languages and lets smile together for the greater good of humanity.

    February 3, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. betterdays

    More than forty years ago Coke made a feelgood attempt to get the world to sing in perfect harmony. That didn't work, either.

    February 3, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. Blame me

    This is what happen when you are paranoid about everything, that you begin to be afraid of your shadow. Please wake up, this is a new America, leave the past instead cherish the future.

    February 3, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. Denver Guy

    I am very proud of being a diverse nation filled with the entire world's people and cultures. As for the Larry the Cable Guy look alikes that are upset, the rest of us would ask you to please leave – pick an ocean and start swimming, we don't need your ignorance in OUR nation.

    February 3, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Msnbc, you are hereby authorized to recant your gutless apology.
    Hear! Hear!

    February 3, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Attacking those people of faith again by insinuating that our beliefs are not tolerant..... I for one am done with this product"

    How does Coca Cola making an advertisement that literally and joyously celebrates America's diversity and tolerance...clearly implying it is what makes the country so beautiful...an attack that implies people of your faith are not tolerant? Hmmmm? EXPLAIN IT.

    February 3, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. howie

    Are we sure this ad wasn't paid for by Pepsi..considering how many folks it offended, Pepsi will be the big winner..

    February 3, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. asdf

    It is embarrassing when the Heritage Foundation does not follow along with the talking points from the dixicrat..er, I mean Tea Party. First they come up with the idea of Obamacare and now this! They are like the Tea Party's Joe Biden.

    February 3, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Msnbc, you are hereby authorized to recant your gutless apology.
    Hear! Hear!"


    February 3, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
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