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Coke’s “America The Beautiful” Ad Stokes Controversy

Coke Super Bowl ad
Coke Facebook page)

The ads for the Super Bowl were for the most part considered a bit lackluster this year,  but one ad has set off controversy across the country.

Coke aired a commercial with a voice singing “America the Beautiful” in several different languages, and finished it with a hashtag “#AmericaIsBeautiful.”

The response was swift and immediate.   Numerous social media groups commented on the ad and the Independent Journalism Review  has this to say about it:

“America is a nation of immigrants, period. Latino, Asian, European, African – everyone is welcome, given that immigrants play by the rules and show basic respect for the host country.

The nation is enriched by the contributions from immigrants from multiple backgrounds and languages, but how can there be cultural harmony with everyone speaking their own languages and unable to grasp a common culture that unites people?”  (bold lettering added for emphasis).

The website Bizpacreview.com noted this observation:

‘Perhaps tensions were high because one of the languages the very American, patriotic song was sung in was Arabic and the game was being played right across the river from where the Twin Towers came down on September 11, 2001.”

Patriot Nation on Facebook, a page with over 355,000 likes, went farther, calling for a boycott of Coke products. Former U.S. representative Allen West’s Facebook (with over 955,000 likes)  page ran an ad asking “Is it America the Beautiful, or America the Balkanized?”

 Breitbart.com also offered commentary on the ad.  GLAAD, the nations leading advocate for gay and lesbian people said the ad (which included a gay couple) is a “reflection of the growing majority of Americans from all walks of life who proudly support their LGBT friends…”

Some major mainstream media outlets are blasting those who were offended by the ad, while more conservative and grassroots media outlets and numerous social media pages (especially on Facebook) were disillusioned or objected to it.    In the end, some major business journals and advertising groups say regardless of how brave or “real” Coke was trying to be by reportedly showing America as it “really is,”  they agreed it was not a smart business decision.

Numerous ad groups have questioned in general the benefits of Super Bowl advertising. Regardless of the product, service, or item companies are trying to sell,  there’s never been a large direct correlation between such ads and sales increases.  These groups however, say that controversial or ads that are judged to be offensive by the general public can result in some loss in sales.  But even if they are significant, they are usually temporary, and the company’s product returns to it’s usual tempo of sales.

So in the end, it winds up being a wash, but perhaps another signpost in the polarizing of America.

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