Coca-Cola won over most of the U.S., and my Facebook timeline this past week, on its multi-lingual ad spot, America The Beautiful, for the Superbowl. Watch it here:
Of course, not everyone was happy. The English-only crowd is never happy when they cannot understand any other language besides English. We’ll just mark up all the bigoted comments about the ad spot to a competency problem.
But liberals rejoiced. And therein lays the real problem with the advertisement.
I can’t be the only one who is critical and unhappy about how Coca-Cola, a union-bursting company selling toxic products, is now using people of color to rebrand itself?
For a company that declares that America is beautiful, Coca-Cola has surely done some things to make parts of America less beautiful. For years, Coke has worked to stifle unions across Central America, most notably in Colombia. Colombian unionists have alleged that the company has used right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia to intimidate and assassinate labor organizers. Similar complaints alleging rape, murder and torture have been filed by people in Guatemala. Trade unionists have called for an international boycott of Coca-Cola, and demanded that the soft drink giant print a memoriam of murdered workers on its products.
Thus, the multi-lingual ad spot with happy brown faces masks the real face of Coca-Cola as a company that makes a profit on the pain of the people of Colombia, Guatemala and elsewhere.
Also problematic is the fact that brown people appear prevalently in an ad about how America is beautiful, but they are hardly featured in most other commercial mediums. Suffice to say that the only way that Super Bowl U.S. can consume people of color is when we are raving on about how this country–with a shameful past of murdering the indigenous, enslaving black people, and an embarrassing present of record incarcerations, to say the least–is beautiful.
Sure, the ad spot is beautiful. There is no denying that. But what Coca-Cola is selling is still bad for all of us. In fact, in addition to all the horrible things done by the company, as a product, Coke is toxic to our bodies. No amount of artificial coloring is going to change that and brown-wash a toxic reality.