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February 13, 2014

Coke ad bubbling with controversy

By Joshua Hoover

During the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola ran an advertisement featuring a diverse group of people singing “America the Beautiful” in 7 different languages. This ad, which immediately brought thoughts of the ‘melting pot’ that is American culture to my head, was not as well received by many Americans.

Since the ad ran, many people are complaining that Coke is doing everything from supporting terrorism to sponsoring illegal immigration. The people who are most vocal aren’t just Twitter warriors, either. Glen Beck claimed on Monday that the only purpose of the ad was to divide the country. “If you don’t like it, you’re racist,” Beck said. “If you do like it, you’re for immigration. You’re for progress.”

It wasn’t just celebrity political commentators spouting off about the supposed values that Coke espoused during their ad, however. Many other Twitter users quickly began making their feelings known.

“Still confused as to why they were singing about America in all those foreign languages in the Coke commercial. We speak English…” @annalangleyy tweeted. @bwroberts76 tweeted “I’ll NEVER drink another Coke after that heinous un-American commercial. I’m utterly disgusted #Cokesucks.”

“America the Beautiful” was written by Katharine Lee Bates, a songwriter, and composed by Samuel A. Ward, a church composer and organist--both of whom were inducteed into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Bates is believed by some historians to have been involved in a lesbian relationship with Katherine Coman, whom she lived with, making the outrage about this commercial’s message even more ludicrous. Surprisingly, there was little outrage at the homosexual couple that the ad featured, the first such couple in Superbowl advertisement history, according to GLAAD.

Coke refused to let the negative publicity back them down from the message that they wanted to share, running the ad for a second time during the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics. For that, I congratulate the company.

This country was founded by a group of immigrants. When the English first established colonies here, they did not speak the language of the locals. Rather than expect people to only move here if they have a perfect grasp of the English language (when that is not even our national language, as we don’t have one established), perhaps we as a nation should celebrate the positive qualities that the immigrants bring.

For many years, there was nothing that one could be more proud of than saying that your ancestors moved here with nothing and managed to build up a successful business.

The last two lines of “American the Beautiful” read as follows. “And crown thy good with brotherhood/From sea to shining sea!” Through this advertisement, Coke tried to celebrate the vast diversity in the United States while focusing on the fact that we are still all Americans. Instead of speaking hatred towards those that want to come and help to continue the traditions in our country, we need to remember that is how nearly all of our ancestors arrived and welcome them.