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

    Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.