Coca-Cola is an American multinational beverage corporation and manufacturer, retailer, and marketer of nonalcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups(Coca-Cola Co.). Coca-Cola is involved in many community support events that include grants, scholarships, educational programs, HIV/AIDS prevention, sponsorships, and emergency relief. However, despite all of their efforts and contributions a certain commercial that Coca-Cola aired during the 2014 Super bowl caught many peoples attention.
Here is the link to the official Coca-Cola commercial that aired during the super bowl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=443Vy3I0gJs
Coca-Cola, commonly known for their American pride and a symbol of America, debuted their “Its Beautiful” commercial with a rendition of “America the Beautiful” sang in various languages. The commercial was a Coke Classic, bringing together the different kinds, colors, lifestyles, and origins of Americans. The commercial contains children of different genders and ages that make up America today. There are several activities that represent American culture in the commercial as well, like playing basketball, going to the movies, going out to eat, swimming, and rollerblading. It also displays the different sites of America from different cities to the Grand Canyon. All of which should bring pride and joy to Americans. However, despite all of the appealing things this commercial represented about America, not everybody agreed with the format and representation.
The commercial quickly gained a lot of attention through twitter users who were live-tweeting the event. Broderick, a writer from BuzzFeed staff, explains how there were many different things said about the commercial, some stating they were switching over to Pepsi, that Coca-Cola was now un-American, some furious about the languages used in the song, and even to the extent of calling Coca-Cola terrorists. There were also several hash tags that were created regarding the commercial. Some of the tweets were “@CocaCola because of that commercial I’m switching to Pepsi. In America we speak English !!!” and “@CocaColaway to encourage the country to get further from our English language! #americaisbeautiful speak English or get out!” This commercial didn’t bring much beauty out of America; it brought a whole lot of ugly. Coca-Cola was referred to as terrorists here, “@CocaCola Fuck you and your shitty commercial #terrorists.” The commercial not only received tweets but also many hashtags that included “#SPEAKAMERICAN” and “#boycottcoke.” It also sparked comments on their Facebook page calling the company a disgrace and unpatriotic.
As soon as I saw this commercial during the Super Bowl I knew it was going to stir up a pile of controversial statements and tweets. The idea that whites are colorblind to race is completely overturned when looking at this single event. Colorblindness is the idea that people don’t see race and that any reference to race leads to racial injustices (Bonilla-Silva). Here is a commercial that is representing America as a melting pot and as soon as it was aired racial tweets like this one were quick to respond, “Nice to see that coke likes to sing an AMERICAN song in the terrorist’s language. Way to go coke. You can leave America.” This implies that every other language is a language of terror associated to violence and crime. Just like that tweet many others are using the idea of “English only.” This is another form of colorblind racism where people are claiming that it’s about language not skin color. When they use the idea of language they make it seem as if the discrimination isn’t about race, or that race isn’t the issue but language is.
Another very obvious idea that stood out with this situation is the idea of “post-racial America.” This idea that many White-Americans believe we are past racism and use ideas like abstract liberalism that include “equal opportunity” and “choice.” This new racial ideology says that everybody, no matter what the race or culture, has equal opportunities in America is a disclaimer and clearly not true for all situations. One tweet that explains this, “What’s up, “post-racial America”? Nothing like a little Spanish to bring out the trolls who think “American” is a language. #boycottcoke,” a lady who was not using “#boycottcoke” in a negative way but bringing light to the idea of equal opportunity and post-racism is clearly still not in effect. She includes how just one commercial that happens to include different languages can stir up so many indecent comments. Bonilla-Silva explains this well when she says, “However, it is also true-facts hidden by color-blind racism-that because people of color still experience systematic discrimination and remain appreciably behind whites in many important areas of life, their chances of catching up with whites are very slim” (Bonilla-Silva 26). Here she explains that not only does discrimination exist, but, because minorities experience such hardships they still do not receive the equal opportunities that are supposedly given to them.
Another idea that really reflects off of the idea of equal opportunity is minimization of racism. This is the idea that whites believe that race and racism no longer affect minorities’ lives today (Bonilla-Silva 40). If this is true than why are all these tweets and comments even being brought about? If race and racism were not an issue today, then this would not have been a trending issue on twitter. One tweet I found in regards to this idea is, “Hate to go there but if you still think “Racism is long gone” check out the #boycottcoke trend on twitter.” Clearly there are no limitations to racism when thousands of people are bashing a commercial that represents America as an accepting and diverse country. “You can’t sing an American song in another language! #boycottcoke,” one of the many tweets that proves racism is clearly still part of our society. If Coca-Cola can not even make a commercial that represents America as a melting pot with diverse cultures, then how are we supposed to consider minorities as equal with choices to succeed?
The final idea that I could not help but notice with this situation was the use of cultural racism. Cultural racism is culturally based justifications for discrimination such as “abcs don’t value education” and “xyzs have too many babies” to explain racial inequalities today (Bonilla-Silva 28). This idea blames the victim using stereotypes. This tweet stereotypes minorities as illegal citizens, “Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border. #americaisbeautiful.” This tweet implies that all the different languages that were used for the song, “America the Beautiful,” are sang by illegals who cross the border. This justifies the discrimination toward the different languages, saying it is acceptable to comment and tweet racist remarks because they are all illegals crossing the border.
Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. “Racism without Racists.” The Central Frames of Color-Blind Racism (2010): 3rd edition. PDF file.
Broderick, Ryan. “Coca-Cola’s Multilingual Super Bowl Ad Inspired A Complete
Coca-Cola Company. Product Description, 2013. Web. 2 March 2014. http://www.coca-colacompany.com/brands/product-descriptions
Meltdown Online.” Buzzfeed. 3 Feb. 2014. Web. 2 March 2014. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/coca-colas-multi-lingual-super-bowl-ad-inspired-a-racist-mel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=443Vy3I0gJs (Coca-Cola Commercial)