retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, in the Eye-Opener, I wrote about the controversy surrounding a Coca-Cola commercial shown during the Super Bowl, in which "America the Beautiful" was sung in seven different languages and, among all sorts of familial images, a same-sex relationship was shown.

Some people thought the commercial was promoting multiculturalism and even illegal immigration, not to mention homosexuality, and therefore was anti-American. I didn't see it that way:

When I saw the commercial, the first thing I thought of was that it was enormously aspirational … that even people who don't speak English and who are outside what some folks would think of as the mainstream believe in the beauty of America's vision and ideals. I never felt for a moment like it was anything other than that … (and) when I saw the commercial, I didn't even notice the gay couple. Since then, I've gone back to watch it online, and yep, they're there. But I swear I didn't even notice them until some folks got in high dudgeon about it.

I went on:

It seems to me that Coke was advertising to a multicultural audience that speaks a variety of languages, includes gay people - all of whom it hopes will drink a Coke product.

In the end, that's the bottom line. Marketing to the world the way it is, as opposed to the way some people would like it to be.

One MNB user responded:

That's exactly what "irritated" so many people.  Some ad agency communicated to a world they'd like it to be, as opposed to the way it is for a majority of Super Bowl viewers.

I suspect you have a myopic view of who was watching the Super Bowl. I think it is called Epistemic Closure.

From another reader:

You know, your last sentence could go both ways…

Interesting choice of words, considering the subject.

But I just think you are wrong. And I think the evidence is all around us.

From still another reader:

I didn’t like the commercial. Loved the pictures, love the song, didn’t see a gay couple either. But here is the issue - we are united in part as a culture and country by our language as a country, though Spanish certainly could be considered our unofficial or official second language (and I speak it). To me the song suggests that there is no reason to learn the language here, or to assimilate to any degree. Our historical strength has come from assimilation, where we are all building a better and more diverse US together. This interpretation of a classic American patriotic song suggests that many tongues and cultures just happen to be residing on and appreciating the same US borders. Multiculturalism is such a nice sounding word, but to me it represents a lack of unity and lack of shared experiences, shared goals and mutual dreams for this country (not the “old” country). It’s like people who can only talk about their high school days. Really? It’s fine to appreciate your memories and history, but move on, man!

Again, I disagree. It seemed aspirational to me - that people of many cultures and backgrounds yearn for the promise of America.

Besides, I'd rather have people singing "America the Beautiful" in seven languages than singing "The State Anthem of the Russian Federation" (which is a literal name of the Russian national anthem) or the Chinese national anthem in those languages.

But maybe that's just me. Better to embrace people with open arms than greet them with a wagging finger.

An MNB user who described herself as a "long time reader, first time ‘commenter’ wrote:

I bet the people who were upset about the Coke Super Bowl commercial were the same people that were upset about General Mills featuring an interracial family on a Cheerios commercial. My response is the same … I’ll be sure to pick up a few extra 12-packs of Coke this week at the market. And I’ll throw in some Cheerios in the cart too, just for good measure.

And another:

I have to admit that this commercial did not initially stand out to me seeing it during Superbowl. After going back to watch it on YouTube I found I really liked it and the message and I suspect that Coke will not regret this it all.  I was pleasantly surprised that after the video, they had full versions of the song in each language with commentary as kind of a  “making of the commercial” videos spots.

I think that watching these young singers and families might benefit anyone confused about the meaning, intent and inspiration behind the spot.  I think that Coke having these queued up on their channel shows the intent behind the commercial.

Another MNB reader chimed in:

I was watching the Super Bowl in Mexico, where I could have English or Spanish language. As I did the playoff games. It may have been shown many other places in the world too. The world continues to shrink.

And from another:

When I first saw the Coke commercial, like you, I thought it was awesome!

My wife and I are both 3rd generation Texans and we thought this was a beautiful message to show our three little girls.

And then I looked at my Twitter feed.  Disgust doesn’t’ quite capture what I felt.

This goes beyond politics and policy like some like to claim.

This is simply about one thing……hate.

These haters throughout social media are furious that our country has moved on from the 1950’s.

It’s sad that I have to warn our girls about people like this but it feels good to know they will grow up to be tolerant of others and understanding of our differences.

I think it’s time for a cold, refreshing Coke.

And another:

I am SO glad you addressed this topic, and I can’t help but smile reading how “surprised” you were at people’s negative reactions.

I went to college in Northern Virginia where a lot of my peers are VERY conservative (pictures of dead baby fetuses in their dorm room, GOP BABE as their license plate, you get the picture). It wasn’t a surprise when I logged onto Facebook after the Super Bowl to see sickening reactions from them after seeing Coke’s commercial of America the Beautiful. Pictures of them dumping a Coca-Cola product down the drain because this commercial “offended” them, spewing that America’s national language is English and “how dare they” diminish what America stands for.

Well, clearly they do not know what America stands for.

Not that this is the most effective way to show how much I disagree with them, but I defriended about four people on Facebook yesterday because of their reactions. I had been annoyed with them before hand because of their extremist posts on Facebook, but this was the last straw.

It’s like when I read tweets of people’s reactions to Macklemore’s performance at the Grammy’s and Queen Latifah marrying gay couples on TV, or to the Disney Channel show featuring a lesbian couple for a few minutes in one episode…what in the world are these people possibly doing that disrupts your daily life, your ability to live healthy and happy. Oh, NOW you’re going to have to explain to your children what gay means or why there are non-White people in a Coke commercial?

For the record, I wasn't really surprised by the reaction. I was being sarcastic.

Intolerance, unfortunately, rarely is surprising. In many places, for many people, it's a real thing.
KC's View: