you didn’t watch the Super Bowl and have been hiding under a rock ever since,
you’re familiar with Coke’s 60-second “It's Beautiful” commercial that has
caused so much controversy.
commercial paints a picture of the diversity of America, celebrating the many
kinds, colors, lifestyles and origins of Americans who, by definition, are one.
One of our most patriotic songs, “America the Beautiful,” plays in the
in just 60 seconds, America the Beautiful became America the Ugly.
commercial sparked a barrage of outrage on social media, with comments ranging
from “Speak English or go home” to “Coke, this is America. English please.” And
those were the clean ones.
raised two questions: First, is this outrage appropriate, and second, did the
commercial benefit Coke?
could talk for hours about how utterly shocking some of the comments were. An article written in last Sunday’s U.S. edition of the British paper The
Guardian about the divisive
nature of the commercial pretty much sums up my feelings. It began with: “[The
commercial’s] multilingual script alarmed conservatives already losing their
battle to preserve an America that never existed.”
We are a country of immigrants, have been since the beginning, and, like it or
not, always will be. That’s the nature of who we are.
a nation where four out of 10 people have a heritage outside of the continental
U.S., I believe a commercial demonstrating cultural diversity perfectly
represents a country where diversity is king. People come to America, as they
will continue to do as long as we have the reputation of being the "land
of opportunity," and become American. But they don’t immediately erase
everything else that they are and stand for.
there are plenty of people who disagree. And the airing of the commercial
seemed to reinforce how great the chasm of political and social belief is in
this country. And that in and of itself is a shame.
a value standpoint, I think it might be a long time before Coke knows how this
worked. At $4 million for 30 seconds, my advanced math tells me they spent
close to $8 million for their Super Bowl minute. Need to sell a lot of Coke to
pay for that.
while that seems a ridiculous amount to pay for a commercial, consider that the
Super Bowl audience continues to grow, this year more viewers, 111 million in
all, watched the game -- more than any other show in television history. So if
you can afford it, it’s a powerful way to sell. Even for close to $8 million.
And don’t forget the 10 million-plus YouTube views “It's Beautiful”
is designed to do a number of things, but its essence is to attract people to
buy a product. But to do that, it has to have a positive influence on a
customer in order to change their purchase habits.
did this commercial have a positive influence? That’s debatable. Post-game
feedback from the ad industry was mixed. USA Today,
which has an ad meter that ranks the commercials, put “It's Beautiful”
17th out of the 50 commercials in the show, above average but clearly hurt
by the controversy. Yahoo Sports wasn’t nearly as kind, giving it a D, saying
“When all else fails, wrap yourself in the flag.” E however ranked it 7th overall,
observing “It caused quite the uproar on Twitter, so it must have done
something right. America is a melting pot, folks. Has been for a long time. Get
used to it.”
that’s what Coke was trying to do here, demonstrate that it is a brand for all
races, that it knows nothing about prejudice but knows everything about people.
So from that standpoint I think the whole thing worked pretty darn well for
be sure, the subliminal message wasn’t a rejection of English nor was it a
celebration of the other languages around the globe. It was simply, “Buy Coke.”
But in a commercial where the ultimate goal was to sell a product, it did a
pretty good job of associating Coke with something bigger. Our people. And I
just loved that.
its YouTube page, Coke opined the following when they posted the commercial:
“The only thing more beautiful than this country are the people who live here.”
you Coke for reminding us that we are beautiful because of, and not in spite
of, our linguistic and cultural diversity. We are indeed America the Beautiful.
We shouldn’t forget that.