Debates and Racism Over Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad

If you didn’t watch the Super Bowl last Sunday (or turned it off out of embarrassment), you missed an ad put out by Coca-Cola that has sparked much debate and criticism.

In my family, we prefer Coke over Pepsi, even though only one of us can taste the difference. A big reason is because of their ads. Commercials and expensive advertising must work; we drink Coke because of those cute polar bears and vintage Santa Clauses. Their ads are catchy and classy, as opposed to Pepsi whose ads tend to be trashy and inappropriate by comparison.


On Sunday, February 3, 2002, during the Super Bowl, Pepsi-Cola North America unveils a new Britney S..









And let’s face it: if I drank, I’d choose Budweiser for the same reason.

But Coke’s newest ad, which you can watch on the video above, was anything but classy, according to a lot of people.

For a whole minute, Americans from all nationalities and languages joined in in singing “America the Beautiful.”

My wife and I made no comment about it, that I recall. Except I might have mentioned how pretty it was.

It’s touching to see Americans of all races come together and be united as one, though we may differ on subjects of religion, politics, and attire.

And it’s heartbreaking to read comments online like:

Not a fan of the CocaCola commercial. America The Beautiful should not be sang in any other language other than English. Sorry not sorry. 🇺🇸 -BudLightBro (@BudLightBro)

I will be drinking Pepsi after your Super Bowl commercial. We welcome all people but being American should be an honor. @CocaCola #tcot -M Mahathy (@mmahathy)

I am truly disappointed in @Coca Cola for the offensive#SpeakAmerican commercial last night. Speak English!— Janice Rounsaville (@janicehr55)

Read article here.

Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes once said “If you can’t speak English, then I say, shut up!”

He was six. I doubt he’d still say that today.

Some even went so far as to say that terrorists should not be singing our nation’s songs.

It’s too bad that we as a nation are weary to take up arms against our real enemies over seas, but will attack our own under the pretense of assumption and bigotry.

I don’t see people complaining about Disney’s “Let it Go” sung in 25 languages going ultra-viral. Why? Because it’s beautiful.

Like America.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

What are your thoughts on the whole Coca-Cola ad debate? Share your thoughts.

Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

88 thoughts on “Debates and Racism Over Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad

  1. Personally I didn’t and don’t have a problem with the commercial. I thought it was a beautiful expression of what ONCE defined being American. Sadly, that seems no longer true.

    1. Seems so. But racism ran amuck even in colonial times. Sometimes it’s sad that there’s nothing new under the sun.

  2. It’s sad when fear motivates people to be inhospitable. It’s an oxymoron to define oneself or one’s nation as “Christian” while refusing to treat the strangers/newcomers in one’s midst with generosity, charity and compassion.

  3. The Seal of the United States reads, “E Pluribus Unum”

    Out of many, ONE.

    Mark 3:25 – “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.

    Enough said.

  4. The comments about the Coca Cola Ad are completely outlandish. What Coca Cola attempted to portray was beautiful. I must say though that the use of the word “ghetto” in this post also threw me for a bit of a loop. A ghetto, as described by Merriam Webster is a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure. Pepsi commercials has featured many minority celebrities but I haven’t seen any of their commercials take place in a ghetto. To see the word ghetto is a post condemning racism… it struck a cord. “Ghetto” has a racist connotation. I’m not inferring that you were intending it to come across that way, this is only my personal reaction, but perhaps the word choice was a bit off? Thanks for sharing though, and believe me the goal of the post is not lost on me at all 🙂

    1. Thank yo for pointing this out, and you’re right. I have gone back and taken that word out and replaced it with “inappropriate.”

      1. Thanks! Inappropriate indeed! Some of those Pepsi Ads are cringe worthy. I appreciate Coca Colas consistent attempts at marketing in a wholesome way that promotes unity and inclusivity. As usual, whenever there’s an attempt at forward movement we can count on a select few to lasso the cause and pull it back into blissful ignorance.

  5. Honestly, I didn’t even realize there was a debate until I read your post. I thought it was a beautiful way of showing what a melting pot our country truly is. Just because you can sing in more than one language has no bearing on how “American” you are. Many churches sing in Latin (a dead language). Does that make the people inside unpatriotic or un-American? Are we going to boycott God, now? The whole thing is bigoted and small minded. I heard the Cheerios commercial with the biracial family also caused an uproar last year. I’m really glad they kept it and added a new commercial this year. Small minded people with big mouths won’t win if we don’t give the power to do so.

    1. Love this comment. Especially pointing out the Cheerio’s debate, which is just more ridiculous than this Coke one, honestly. Not a fan of biracial haters.

  6. Those that post such ignorant comments like the ones you quoted are not the majority. Most people, myself included, didn’t think anything more about the commercial than Coke doing it’s best to market to as many people as possible. The idea that you must speak English only to be American is pretty uneducated. I do believe that English should be our national language, but I don’t care if someone prefers to speak in their native tongue. That doesn’t/shouldn’t make them any less American.

    On a side note, why are you letting advertising dictate what beverages you drink? Seriously? Drink something because it tastes good to you. I just don’t understand how someone could make a decision based on some advertising strategy. It makes you sound simpleminded, I fear the other decisions you leave up to the advertisers. I’m hoping you wrote that in jest or as some sort of humor, if so, sorry I didn’t get it.

    1. No, not a joke. I can’t taste the difference between the two soft drinks, but given the choice, I gladly choose Coke because of their marketing strategies. 🙂

      1. My intent was not to say that you are simpleminded, My meaning is that one can come across as simpleminded stating they choose one soft drink over another because of the advertising campaign. It doesn’t even matter to me what the campaign is. That being said, if a company were outright morally deplorable in their advertising then yes, I could see one choosing a competitors product, so perhaps, I was too quick to judge. If you feel Pepsi’s marketing is morally lacking and you cannot taste a difference then who am I to judge.

        Since I seem to like side notes today, here is another one. I don’t understand how someone couldn’t taste a difference between the two. My tongue tells me they are two entirely different products. Coke is more acidic to me than Pepsi is. I honestly wish I couldn’t tell a difference, though. Then I wouldn’t have to be disappointed when I go to a restaurant and they only have Coke products. But I don’t want to start the Coke vs Pepsi battle as I don’t really have a loyalty towards either. I’ll drink either if they’re available.

    2. Personally one of the reasons I like Coke is because of there brilliant marketing strategy. It does not make you simple minded because you like cute poler bears, Santa’s, and “teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony” as apposed to Pepsi commercials that consist of blond women in tight shorts doing offensive dances. Plus Coke does taste better.

      1. Lol. Thanks, Katherine. I couldn’t figure out how to describe Pepsi commercials without being gross, but you nailed it. That’s exactly why I don’t drink Pepsi.

      2. Ha ha! Coke vs. Pepsi battles can get really nasty. Its funny to me that people can be so adamant about about a soft drink. Sorry if I berated your favorite cola. I must confess when I was little I did walk around sining “Pepsi Cola is the drink for you”

  7. I can’t believe that people would say such things about a beautiful commercial. I love Coca-Cola adds and I think that this is one of the best yet. America the Beautiful, sing it in any language you like, because we are the great melting pot and that is what makes us so beautiful.

  8. As soon as that commercial came on TV on Sunday, I knew it was going to be red meat to the “America First” types out there . They are so convinced of our inherent exceptionalism that anyone who is a bit different (in sexual orientation, language, ethnicity, religion, you name it) are by definition the “other” and therefore to be feared and hated.

    Thanks so much for writing a post on this, needs to be said over and over: just because you are not white, English-speaking, native-born — that doesn’t make you less of an American, any less valuable, any less worthy of respect. Let’s counteract the ignoramuses out there!!!

  9. Thank you for your honest and rational approach to this commercial & its debate. I too think it was beautiful and stirring–an ad that was intended to unite people of all backgrounds. It’s extremely sad to see how some people misconstrue a message that is simply beautiful. Nearly every American’s ancestors, at one time, spoke another language too.

  10. I come from immigrant stock – Irish and English and I suspect my father had more than a touch of Scandinavian. I think if we all trace back our family history most of us at some point in the last 500 years came from somewhere else. We are simply caretakers of the land we live in. It takes guts to move from your home even if there is persecution, to leave behind friends, family and to start all over again in a foreign land very often with language and cultural challenges. I don’t drink coke – but I applaud their recognition that we are now citizens of the world and we all once travelled across seas to live where we do now. Perhaps we all need to learn to be better hosts to visitors.

  11. I actually wrote a post yesterday about this same commercial. I was personally shocked that people felt this way after watching it. I thought it was amazing to see and hear. We are all here in one nation and we are or we are supposed to be united, what kind of message does this send?? I believe it just shows how ignorant some people are. I don’t like soda all that much and I have never been a Coke fan, but if it was me, this would make me proud to drink the product.

      1. I have read a lot of negative, more so negative than positive, so I do hope that they do, but I am interested to see if that is the case. I just hope the company stands strong and backs this commercial.

  12. Personally, I see nothing racist about the ad.

    I find it to be a beautiful expression of the unification of different nationalities in one country.

    Granted, other countries also have different nationalities residing in it, but the superbowl is located in US. smh.

    People’s perception of turning so beautiful and positive into something ugly and negative boggles my mind.

  13. Funny all these people saying english if you come here speak english. My question what native language do you speak because long before english we spoke Lakota, Seminole and Malesett. Yes I read and write all three and read lips in two. English was my fourth language not my first.

    So to all those who say this is america speak english. I say this is america if you want to demand speaking english go back to england. Because you yourselves don’t speak the language of the TRUE native people to these lands.

    Probably not a popular opinion but it’s 100% true. The poeple here 1000s of years before europeans arrived didn’t speak a lick of english. But yet the arrogent english demanded we learn their language. Hmmm.

    Ti Tukeye Yuoniha Miye Kola (Live with honor my friends)

    ~Kuwa Sumanitu Taka (pursuing wolf) aka Michelle Styles

  14. My opinion:
    1. America does not have an official language
    2. America is the most ethnically/culturally diverse country in the world
    3. You can share kinship and national identity and pride with people who don’t speak the same language (and not share kinship and identity with those who your language)

  15. I can’t believe that people are being so rude about the commercial. I personally thought it was amazing. Is it really so shocking that there are many types of people of different races and cultures living in America today? I really enjoyed your post!!

  16. I didn’t object to the song being sung in various languages, but I think the ad would have been more effective if they’d simply had the song sung in English and showed images of people from varying cultures. The song was supposed to be a unifying element, but instead became a disjointed separator by repeatedly switching the language.

    Obviously some people think everyone should speak only English in America. While I think everybody should at least have a basic grasp of the language, I’ve got no problem with people retaining their heritage through language. But in the case of this commercial, I think their intention to ‘do the right thing’ clouded their judgment and muddied the message.

  17. I didn’t watch the Superbowl (apparently I didn’t miss much), but I saw this commercial and thought it was beautiful! We come from all over. I have friends here at school who are Bahamian, Korean, Spanish, Japanese, etc, and I love hearing their languages and accents. It is unfair and against what I believe is the heart of God to expect everyone to conform to one language. We should celebrate and encourage diversity, not belittle it and shame it. I think diversity is a part of the heart of God.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Wow. I cannot believe the prejudice that some people carry in their hearts. Americans aren’t white. Americans are a quilt of culture and color. Americans speak a lot more than just English, too. Isn’t speaking more than one language an impressive feat? I am impressed with Coca-cola for their creativity and ingenuity. I am a proud Coca-cola drinker (:

  19. Great post. Sad commentary on the mindset of some who have forgotten that it is our differences, often, which encourage innovation and creativity. Ironically enough, English is a conglomerate language based on and influenced by any number of older languages. This is especially true of American English, which differs significantly from dialects spoken in other countries. So really, it’s a lot of hoopla over what is basically a false assumption on several levels.

  20. Many of these people who complain that others are not true Americans and as such should not be recognized and included in things american are forgetting that they themselves are not Americans but are immigrants, and born of generations of criminals sent deported to the Americas during colonialism. The Americas belong to the to Indians, and have been dispossessed by these so called Americans who have proved worthy of the honor of being American. As Marcus Garvey says, every nation should sit under its own fig tree but with everything that has happened in the history of the world this is not so and since we know we don’t have any title for the earth, only for the land, we all should share and be happy with doing so because the truth is most of us are in countries that we should not be and we all shall die and leave the earth for others to fight over.

  21. I like the commercial. The music is good. and I hear my own language (Filipino), which the child sang beautifully. People are being so narrow-minded for hating it. 🙂 Wake up people and appreciate our differences. 😉

  22. I don’t get what the song and people singing it in different languages has to do with drinking Coke in the first place. I didn’t see the commercial, but it reminds me of the brouhaha over the biracial cheerios commercial recently. Really, people? Love they neighbor as thyself! Must be they hate themselves…

  23. It’s frustrating that people feel as such but what can you do other than speak out against it.

    I think it boils down to the economy. People blame the illegal immigrants coming here from Mexico for the economical downfall when it has little to do with that at all. People always have to blame someone. Unless someone is 100% Native American then they can thank our founding father’s for having more sense than they do.

    I saw the commercial. It wasn’t offensive in the least. So what if some Americans don’t speak English, America doesn’t have a national language.

  24. I was kind of shocked after the game when I read that people had been offended by it. I didn’t think about it being offensive at all. Just goes to show you how close-minded people can be I guess.

  25. First of all its sad to see that there ares till racists in America…and this country is full of every nation. No offense, but it gets me mad that the white Americans think that this is their land. The English stole this land from the Natives, who are the true Americans. People just need to grow up and accept how the world is

  26. My issues here is the nationalism. Like it matters what patch of land you are born on. America no better then any other country. Stop trying to make it out to be anything more. All countries have their issues. America the land of fake media and a pretent president that kills kids in other countries with drones and does foony terror attacks for profit and puts idiotic shows on tv like Jersey Shore and Honey Bobo.
    Remember everything Hitler did was legal.

    1. This is a good comment. I didn’t know he was behind Jersey Shore and Honey Boo Boo… not too surprised, though.

  27. At first I was a bit shocked to hear “America the Beautiful” sung in a foreign language, then I stopped to considered that if they had just become a new citizen but hadn’t learned the English language or wanted to sing it to their family back home, doing it in their language was appropriate. We are a land of diverse nationalities and cultures; that’s how this country was born. I will always sing it in English–that’s my native tongue.
    English is our primary language and some states have that written into law. English is the hardest language to learn. Be thankful you don’t have to try learning it.
    The main difference I’ve noticed between Pepsi and Coke is the sweetness. I prefer Pepsi, but can no longer drink it due to an allergy to one of their ingredients. I can drink 3 Cokes before incurring a reaction. For me, it’s simply safer not to drink either one; or any sodas, for that matter.
    Pinay commented that we need to appreciate our differences. Even though we are different we have to remember that we are all one, all Americans. We were a great nation, and working together will make this land great again in spite of our differences in politics, cultures, or faith.
    I believe we need to turn back to God. People are trying to live without Him and it just doesn’t work.

  28. Personally I think it is a waste of money to advertise anything, people will buy what they like. The money could be used for better things such as caring for the homeless, better programs to help the poor work themselves out of poverty, etc…. Spending millions of dollars on a commercial like this will not change anyone’s mind on prejudice nor will it entice someone to drink coke. But who am I – someone who doesn’t like commercials no matter how endearing they are. If it were not for your blog I still would not have seen that commercial. It is just a waste –

  29. The reactions to this ad are born out of the confusion that WASP’s are the original (or rightful) inhabitants of this continent. Losing our connection with our (English speakers) ancestry has caused us to be ignorantly arrogant and down right nasty to those who don’t look/sound like us. Kinship should be our goal, but mostly it’s just nationalistic arrogance.

  30. February 9, 2014

    Well, I’m in tears. This is the first time I have heard the new Coca Cola commercial. The tears started to well up when suddenly I was hearing the different languages being sung. And I wish I knew what the different languages were.

    Coca Cola and Kodak Film have always had the best commercials. Many of them were very moving. Other than the original Native Americans who settled this continent, all the rest of us are immigrants, if not this generation than the ones who preceded us. Actually Native Americans are also immigrants from another country, another continent. Which makes America a land for all peoples.

    I liked your reference to Lady Liberty and her words: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. In reality, this commercial ad simply demonstrates that each of America’s people have acquired America the Beautiful into their own personal lives, taking their new home and new songs to become a part of their own lives in this country.

    If you don’t mind, I will share my own comments on Lady Liberty after Hurricane Sandy, 2012, from my blog.

    Thank you. Ellen Henegar

  31. Thanks for following our blog. On the subject of the Coke commercial, I didn’t see it. The Super Bowl just isn’t that important in Chile.

    However, on the issue of ‘just speak American’ I do take a South American viewpoint. Which language is American? After all, there is English, Spanish and Portuguese spoken in the Americas with a lot of native American languages tossed in. The Navajo language played a critical role in the War of the Pacific during WWII.

    As an expat living in Chile I know that we are considered arrogant when we say we are Americans. After all, isn’t everyone who lives in North and South America, Americans? Besides Gringos, which isn’t a negative term here, we are called Estados Unidans. I kind of like that one.

    I for one like the idea of America the Beautiful being sung in many languages. After all, isn’t the very fabric of our nation built upon the acceptance and incorporation of many different nationalities.

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