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

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 4
 Previous   Next 
by: Duckman from: New Mexico
February 04, 2014 8:33 PM
The United States of America is a Nation of immigrants. But in an organized society we unite through a common language. When visiting other countries I have never arrogantly expected everyone to bow down to me and speak my language. We must unite and assimilate to the nation we are in. Speak English in this country. Coke will not get my business I love this country it is beautiful. Why does Coke support separatism and division in our great Nation?

by: Don Long
February 04, 2014 8:09 PM
America was formed by folks from other countries. This ad shows how accepting we are of people from all walks of life. No matter what race, creed, religion or sexual orientation. If you were offended by this ad, you don't need to live in this country.

by: jlangley from: Usa
February 04, 2014 6:47 PM
How awesome was it but I hate to break it but since when did we go back to the intolerance of 1600s did not the English language come from Brittan? Since when did we become nazis here? OH HAIL ENGLISH AND THE WHITE WAY no? Isn't that what you jerks are saying.... want to send every one who isn't american blooded.... better trace you lineage... 5.00 says it came Europe.... go back to england.... simple.. but you might to learn tolerance prior to getting there... just saying

by: DeWayne Walker from: RAPID City SD
February 04, 2014 6:38 PM
I really do not care if the ad displayed some singing martians, it is a patriotic song, and, thus entitled to be sung in our native tongue of English. What next to sell a soda, our national anthem sung in pig Latin? I for one will never buy another coke product, besides Pepsi is better!!!!

by: Trisha Walker from: RAPID City SD
February 04, 2014 6:13 PM
The ad was an insult to every legitimate American. Coke can kiss my you know what and will never get
another sale from me. Go Pepsi!!!!

by: Kyuu
February 04, 2014 3:57 PM
To anyone offended by this commercial, go learn and study a foreign language for once. There's more to this country, let alone planet, than a white society.

by: Bbb from: Paris
February 04, 2014 3:24 PM
The negative reaction shows how much hate americans have in their hearts. How racists they are, and the lack of respect for others that they have. The commercial is beautiful. While in Europe people speaks more than one language and try to educate themselves about other cultures; americans try to avoid education.

by: A.M.H from: Idaho
February 04, 2014 1:59 PM
I am 57 years old a retired Army vet and I'm a America of Mexican heridage and was raised to speak English first and I was a life long coke drinker but after that commercial never again

by: bastetsmom from: USA
February 04, 2014 1:40 PM
E Pluribus Unum. How many know that it's on our currency? That it is NOT in English? That it means, "out of many, one"? The Founding Fathers were right. Our country is made strong because we can get along despite our diversity, unlike the sectarian violence we see in the Middle East. Those who fan the flames against diversity are the ones weakening the country.

by: Deb from: New Mexico
February 04, 2014 1:12 PM
The ad included a Native American young person and was great! Keres is a Native American language and has been spoken here in the American Southwest for centuries long before any English words. The ad was beautiful and there is nothing wrong with being bilingual. People forget that the English language is also a foreign language in America.
Comments page of 4
 Previous   Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs