The ad I chose to analyze was a Coca-Cola ad that ran during the 2014 Superbowl. The ad featured Americans of different ethnic backgrounds all singing “America the Beautiful” in their native languages. The languages that were sung were English, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese French, and Hebrew. The entire ad was beautifully put together. They had flashes of families, kids, adults, grandparents, and even a gay Jewish couple, which was step for the LGBT community. The ad had a clear message of unity and patriotism. However, Coke faced backlash on both their Twitter and Facebook page. Many conservatives out their thought the message promoted non-English teaching. There were calls by conservative news anchors to boycott Coke for their “horrendous” ad. One Facebook comment out of many read, “We live in America, where we speak English. If you don’t like it, get the **** out.”
Coke’s ad was very forward. They wanted to show how Coke has international reach and how America is a country that is united by multiple cultures. For a normal Superbowl ad, it cost about 4.5 million per 30 seconds. Now this ad was around 1 minute long, costing 9 million. Coca-Cola is known for having American themed ads, showing their home based culture at home and abroad. The semiotics of this commercial are rather in the open and out for all to take notice of. They have flashes of famous American landscape, which ties into their “It’s Beautiful” campaign. One of the biggest American symbols they have in this ad is of course the Coca-Cola bottle caps, colors, and signature bottle at the end. These immediately instill in the viewer a sense of familiarity. The whole ad is meant to give off a sense of “home” a sense that America is beautiful and familiar yet diverse and waiting to be explored.
The official statement by the Coco-Cola company for this ad is as follows, “For centuries America has opened its arms to people of many countries who have helped to build this great nation. We believe ‘It’s Beautiful’ is a great example of the magic that makes our country so special, and a powerful message that spreads optimism, promotes inclusion and celebrates humanity – values that are core to us and that matter to Coca-Cola.” The company faced fierce backlash within hours of the ad airing. Conservative around the country were up in arms about the “anti-English” message it was sending to countries across the world. Many saw this as a way to make a divide between Americans here at home too. Conservative radio host, Glenn Beck, saw it that way and was blasting the commercial on his radio show. ““I said, ‘Why? You need that to divide us politically?’ Because that’s all this ad is,” Beck said. “It’s an in your face — and if you don’t like, if you’re offended by it, then you’re a racist. If you do like it, well then you’re for immigration, that’s what it is. You’re for progress. That’s all this is, is to divide people.” His view was that Coca-Cola meant to put Americans into categories, instead of trying to bring us together over a bottle of Coke.
Throughout the ad I got nothing but togetherness and full hearted red, white, and blue American patriotism. For me personally, this ad means a lot to me. I consider myself as a pretty moderate American. In my dorm I have about 4 American flags and on my iPhone I have a playlist called “America’s Hits.” This ad only reinforces my love of this country in which we live in. Never. Never in this whole ad did I see an attempt to divide this country. I totally get Glenn Beck’s point of view on this ad. I can see how he could be scared of change. Many people in this world, heck, all Humans are programmed to hate change. I will admit that I have a hard time adjusting to abrupt change at times. Languages are scary. If you don’t know how to speak the language being spoken, you get afraid. This had can instill that fear in people. You can feel lost, because you don’t know what is being spoken, but this ad shouldn’t scare any American. Conservative or Liberal. For it shows how amazing and how overarching our culture is. The American culture on the whole is based on almost every country on the planet when you look at it. I find nothing more heart-warming that hearing those young girls sing one of our most beloved American songs, which was written for church.
Coca-Cola in response to the backlash released a longer video.