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. Name

    I like the commercial. United States does not have an official language and if people dont like it they need to get a hold of there congressperson to change the law.

    February 3, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. Kyle

    Could you have found a crazier chick to debate the issue?? Good lord!!

    February 3, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Sanders Kaufman

    What Republicans are doing is not a debate; it's a tantrum.

    February 3, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I was insulted that this uniquely American song would be delivered by foreign nationals in THEIR native tongue. It should only be delivered in English."

    The first time I heard this uniquely American song sung was as a very young girl sitting next to my grandmother while attending Sunday Church services ... a Slovak church in the heart of Minneapolis. The song was sung in Slovak.

    February 3, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. True Grit

    I cannot believe those who agree and support this commercial. There is no shame to being American regardless of color or ethnicity. It is not xenophobic to voice disapproval of other ethnicities singing America The Beautiful in a foreign language. English is OUR language. Respect it or don't come. Corporations need to stop promoting this kind of diversity amongst the multi-ethnic Americans to turn a profit. Some people need to learn the true definition of what racism and bigotry is. Defending your country's culture is not a symbol of, or portrayal of bigotry or racism.

    People here need to get off their high horse of using "immigrant" to support their ignorance. It is well known this country was built by immigrants. THAT is a no brainer. Immigrants who did not like living under the rule of a dictatorship/totalitarian is what lead them to leave their country in the first place. No one is asking anyone immigrating to give up their "heritage". It is their culture they are leaving, and it is their culture that is not wanted here in the USA as it is inconsistent with our culture.

    The melting pot represents multi-ethnicity living under the umbrella of the USA. Not multi-cultures living under the same umbrella as immigrants. Immigrated moved away from the culture they were living in, which is politically and religiously based.

    If any ethnicity is offended by the expectations of Americans (which happen to be multi-ethnic), then by all means, return to the country of your ancestors and enjoys your culture there as it is not welcome here. In other words, get educated on the definition and difference of what multi-ethnic and multi-cultural is. There will never be a kumbya country of multiple cultures that will live in harmony under one umbrella. No matter how much the liberal tree hugging people would like.

    Coca-cola showed their betrayal to this country with flying colors. They and those who support their antics should be ashamed. As there is no shame to expect respect for our culture and our language on our soil.

    February 3, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. The Shadowknows2007

    Hello I think most of you are taking this Coke thing way to far. You are all forgetting that we are a diverse Country and you all should be upset with your selfs for allowing it to go this far. Im a coke drinker and I saw nothing wrong about the commercial. I understand what some you are saying that if we sang America the Beautiful in another Country we would be going to jail. But remember you have nobody to blame but your selfs and you should say your sorry to Coke. Remember this jingle Coke taught the world to sing. Well Coke is teaching the world to like America.

    February 3, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  7. Melissa

    What a bunch of morons!

    For one, it's not our National Anthem, two, we don't have a national language.

    If only willfully ignorant and hateful would become sterile!

    February 3, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. Juan Bellavista

    I like it!

    February 3, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. Pat

    Very offensive an bad taste. I understand coca cola is world wide but this is America where English is the language NOT a foreign country! Why should we learn a foreign language when WE live in the USA? Does Pakistan make them learn English or other countries make there people learn English? I think not! Some countries will behead there people for even trying to speak English! This is sooooo wrong. Learn English or go back to your own country !!!!!

    February 3, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. Lucrecia

    I Live in a country with 23 ethnic languages!! But we are all the same!! Is not the name of your country United States of AMERICA!!! Come on people #tolerance!!!!

    February 3, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. GodsHoneybadger

    Here's my two cents: yes, America is an English nation. Everyone of us can trace our lineage to another country unless you are full blood Native American – red skinned tribal, to which I am only 1/8th. I believe everyone needs to learn the language of the country they choose to create a life in BUT I think this commercial is just a representation of the various cultures that make up our melting pot. Anyone who is offended is only looking at it through one set of lenses. If they were to try on other frames, they would see other sides.

    February 3, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. LibraryBW

    Okay, so let me get this straight. It is an American song, so it should have been sung in English and for that reason all of you so called...Americans...are getting their drawers in a knot. So, just to clarify, the USA is a melting pot of several nationalities, and they each enriched us with their own culture and customs. We were built on the principle of FREEDOM...you see that world...FREEDOM...I repeated it so you can check it out. You know freedom...right? It is that think that allows you to come on boards like this and get all racist about a song sung in different languages. Soooo...you get that freedom but they don't? Okay, here is your big shiny red button that says,...I AM A RACIST. Were is proudly, for if you are going to insinuate, you might as well just give it up and admit it. Oh, and if you have to say "I am not a racist, or bias" you are. Oh, and get over it.

    February 3, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Pabs

    So, again, we have no official language in this country says the History teacher. If you're going to get on your high horse and forget that your family were once immigrants who spoke many languages, please don't let your ignorance show. Learn some facts. Oh, wait, I forgot who my audience was. Carry on ugly Americans, carry on.

    February 3, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. Adam

    Cosmopolitanism is what makes America great. The world's best and brightest come to America and make something of themselves serving the economic powerhouse of the US while bringing their culture to enrich it. People need to quit being so sensitive. The world is big, so is America, who cares if other people speak different languages.

    February 3, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Matt

    I think we Americans are ok with Coca-Cola being a global company with roots in Georgia. What is difficult to grasp is that in most countries, singing their national anthem in any language other than the "official" language, would be at least suspect, and at most, could get you killed. We are a tolerant, respectful and loving nation, and for that, I am grateful. But there is only so much toleration one could place on a society before we see a backlash. We've reached that limit. Right or wrong, you must decide if those repurcussions are worth forsaking tradition.

    February 3, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. anonymous

    for everyone that is hating on the coca cola commercial that means they are ignorant and racist. coca cola is a world wide brand not an american brand and even if it was an american brand open your horizons and learn a new language. if you couldn't understand the commercial its cuz your plain ignorant

    February 3, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. Manny

    I'm done with coke products. America The Beautiful is not appropriate to be sung in any language other than English and it was simply very creepy and offensive heard it sung during a truly American sport event. Save that garbage for third world soccer events.

    February 3, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. Ann

    It's a nice ad. Bilingualism is cool. When Religious books can be translated why not songs to reach out to different communities and make them feel at home in America?

    February 3, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. Warren Bailey

    I was and continue to be thrilled by Coca Cola's commercial featuring Americans in different walks of life and from diverse cultural backgrounds uniting in the spirit of what makes this country great, singing in their native languages, America the Beautiful.
    The right wing Conservative, and All too often racist, Republican zealots dissatisfaction with this demonstrates their biased narrow minded points of view. It reflects their lack of knowledge of this country's history and an unrealistic fear of non European immigrants to this country.
    With regards to the Proposal that American military of differing backgrounds should have been used I offer the following. While the contributions And sacrifices of our military is important to recognize and acknowledge, it is also important to show the Racially and culturally diverse civilian population of our nation joined together in spirit and song in support of the Creed that unites or people and makes them American. As is demonstrated in the work of the ambassadors of service, inspired by the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, who perform supportive acts of service daily for other Americans, we are a nation not defined by our military but rather by our Love for freedom, Justice and equality of opportunity for all.
    I applaud the Coca Cola commercial.

    February 3, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  20. ElaineB

    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 |
  21. Juanita Ennis

    I am so tired of people thinking that singing in another Lang is unamerican. People again where did ur parents grandparents come from and I believe the joke is on u because anyone who speaks English and another Lang will have leg up in this job market

    February 3, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. Jimetta

    English please. Can we plz make it the official language? I appreciate other cultures who make our land great but can we plz converse in one language, English?

    February 3, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. Jon

    we're a nation of european immigrants that made this country what it is today. don't get it twisted! I'm sorry but I despise that coke ad.

    February 3, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. Scott

    I wouldn't call it an online debate, but more of a an online vanquishing of bigotry. The country literally makes me sick to my stomach when I see how far we have fallen in such a short time. You can thank the conservative Republican Christian nation for this sort of rhetoric and outright bigotry. The fact that so many thought that "America the Beautiful" was our national anthem, should clue you in to what type of ignorant simpletons we are forced to deal with in this country.
    If I was a religious man I would pray for another flood!

    February 3, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Ricardo González

    People have to realize that America is not only the USA but also Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuator, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and many more countries from AMERICA.

    February 3, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
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