Coke Controversy

St. Scholastica's Student Newspaper
The Cable
By: Tayler Boelk - Student Journalist -
Photo credit to coke-cola.com

Photo credit to coke-cola.com

This year, a Coca-Cola ad showed Americans of different races and ethnicities singing "America the Beautiful" in a variety of different languages. After it aired, Americans took to the internet with strong opinions. The company's official Facebook page was overrun with viewer comments, some showing support for the diversity shown in the ad, and many others expressing anger.

The hashtag "#WeSpeakAmerican" became a trending topic on Twitter following the ad, and featured angry tweets such as "Coke having a commercial with an American song in other languages... not cool. Coke. GTFO with that" (@KYBlackout) and "Nice to see that coke likes to sing an AMERICAN song in the terrorist's language. Way to go coke. You can leave America." (@tylerwyckoff24). Many tweets featured the hashtag "#WeSpeakAmerican" and "#BoycottCoke."

But for every hateful and judgmental tweet, it seemed there were two tweets supporting the commercial. Some of these sported statements such as "We speak ENGLISH not AMERICAN" and one commenter tweeted, "If you're complaining about the biracial Cheerios couple & the multi-lingual Coke commercial, you can buy a one way ticket back to the 60's" (Fleaskeys).

Many remember about a year ago when Cheerios came out with its "Heart Healthy" commercial, featuring a family with a black father, a white mother, and their mixed daughter. This ad, too, received a significant amount of negative feedback. This did not prevent Cheerios Company from using the family again in future commercials. More recently, the same interracial family was featured in a second Cheerios commercial, in which the father is explaining to his daughter that she is going to have a little brother. This ad received so many racist comments that the video's comment section was shut down.

In a country that has made so much progress in the integration of different cultures, it is clear there are still some people who refuse to look beyond skin color, culture, gender, and sexuality. Yet, despite some hateful messages, many feel that these commercials are proof that America is moving forward. Alexandra Burt wrote on the Cheerio Companies Facebook page, "Just watched your commercial with the biracial family. Beautiful. Thank you so much. "

As for the Coca-Cola Ad, GLAAD calls it "a step forward for the advertising industry." For those who missed the commercial, the Coke ad featured two gay fathers and their daughter roller skating. After many years of rejection, this is the first Super Bowl ad to feature a gay family (See http://www.advocate.com/sports/2014/01/30/super-bowl-ads-best-and-worst-ever-lgbt-viewers?page=0,0 for a playlist of Super Bowl ads featuring members of the LGBT community and the ads that were rejected).

GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement, "Coca-Cola has demonstrated to corporate America that being LGBT-inclusive is good business...but as the world turns its attention to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, it's time for sponsors of the Olympics like Coca-Cola to show the whole world how beautiful LGBT families are."

This country has, and is, making many changes to be more accepting and inclusive to people of many different backgrounds. For some, the Super Bowl ad was something to be displeased with, but for many more it is a sign of a better future, where people of different race and sexuality can be portrayed in the media in a positive light.