News / USA

    Multilingual Coke Commercial Sparks Debate

    Coca-Cola's Super Bowl commercial sparked a lively debate. (Coca-Cola)
    Coca-Cola's Super Bowl commercial sparked a lively debate. (Coca-Cola)
    While the general consensus was that this year’s Super Bowl ads were mediocre, an ad from soft drink giant Coca-Cola sparked a lively conversation.

    Coke’s ad features the song “America the Beautiful,” which is often considered the second national anthem, sung in several different languages by a multiethnic cast of singers. The song was sung in English, Tagalog, Spanish, Hebrew, Hindi, Keres and Senegalese-French. The commercial also featured a gay family.

    The Super Bowl has become the place to debut funny, moving or even controversial advertisements. Many non-football fans look forward to the game – for the commercials. For a 30-second spot, companies pay up to $4 million to hopefully grab the attention of the millions watching American football’s championship game.

    "For centuries America has opened its arms to people of many countries who have helped to build this great nation," said Sonya Soutus, senior vice president of Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola North America in a statement. "We believe [the ad] 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."

    Both detractors and supporters of the ad took to the web to voice their opinion.

    On the critical side, people complained that the song should only be sung in English, while those who liked the commercial embraced its multicultural bent.

    Conservative former U.S. congressman Allen West lamented the inclusion of other languages.

    “If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing ‘American [sic] the Beautiful’ in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition. This was a truly disturbing commercial for me, what say you?” he wrote in a blog post.

    Glenn Beck, a controversial political commentator, said the commercial was meant to “divide us, politically.”

    Social media was buzzing with talk about the commercial, including many who didn’t like it.





    But those who liked the commercial haled the message of inclusion and diversity





    Coke just seemed happy people were talking.

    "We hope the ad gets people talking and thinking about what it means to be proud to be American," said Katie Bayne, president of Coca-Cola North America, in the release.

    Here's the full commercial:

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 4
        Next 
    by: Kay from: New Mexico
    February 07, 2014 10:16 AM
    America the Beautiful should be sung in the country's language? Well, it's not English it would be the Pueblo language of the Rio Grande because they settled America first and the rest of us came centuries later. So get over it, " first come first serve right," and " the 14th amendment." I thought it was beautiful brought
    tears to my eyes to see we accept all, "Statue of Liberty."

    by: Ami from: IN
    February 07, 2014 9:17 AM
    When in Rome do as the Romans....when in USA do as Americans....here we speak english. If that is not something you want to do or learn stay in rome...

    by: Juli14 from: Peru
    February 05, 2014 4:39 PM
    I don't see anything bad with the ad. In fact, it is a nice iniciative to promote inclusion in a country that is a mix of so many diverse cultures.

    On the other hand, America is the name of the whole continent that include North, Central and South America, not just USA.

    by: will carmack from: dallas,texas
    February 05, 2014 10:29 AM
    It is sad that hundreds of thousands of Ameican soldiers fought and died for America the beautiful to have it desecrated by being sung in a foreign language. Would Russians or Germans want their national song sung in English. Nikita Krushchev once said in the 60s during the cold war that America would fall without a single shot being fired and I believe the old boy may just be right. Sad commentary for American soldiers lying in cemeteries all over the world.

    by: Zack Zack from: Portland
    February 05, 2014 5:28 AM
    You're all idiots.

    by: William from: NC
    February 05, 2014 12:23 AM
    Speak English is so out of date!!! Move on people! Si! Oui! Ja! Get out of your little dark box and learn another language like 3/4 of the rest of the world!!!

    by: Annie from: TX
    February 04, 2014 11:50 PM
    Most other countries in the world have multiple languages spoken and taught. We only show our own ignorance with comments about speaking only English here. Particularly since we don't even speak our own language well.

    by: Robyn from: USA
    February 04, 2014 9:34 PM
    Those who scream, "THIS IS AMERICA, SPEAK ENGLISH" are very out of touch with the world as it is today. When you took a trip to a foreign country I doubt that you bothered to speak the language of that country. Now with that said, It was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL commercial very much reflective of AMERICA TODAY. It is a changing world and this country was founded on immigrants as well as the fact that the woman who wrote the song had a FEMALE life partner. So get the facts, read your history and educate yourself on the global issues facing us today instead of making irresponsible snide comments that don't mean anything.

    by: Chilidog from: Everywhere
    February 04, 2014 9:04 PM
    How many of you were aware that the song "America the Beautiful" was written by a liberal, progressive lesbian?

    Truth

    by: Duckman from: New Mexico
    February 04, 2014 8:45 PM

    Please help us to love each other for who they are. Just because we want a united country does not mean we are raciest. Do you mean to tell me that Coke could not show ethnic diversity without butchering a beautiful American anthem. Through the video we can still see the ethnic diversity in English.
    Comments page of 4
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora