Let’s face it, Coca Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” advertisement during the 48th Super Bowl this weekend, fell flatter than the mightiest of Broncos during the third quarter of the game.
Set to the music of “America, the Beautiful”, the sixty-second clip showed all walks of American life equipped with the iconic song performed in seven different languages. Its intentions were good; show a diversified country united by a patriotic song and instill hope and acceptance into the hearts of billions of people around the world.
But what occurred was something executives at any top-selling juggernaut company fear most; a social media outcry where fingers were pointed and lines were drawn. A full-blown crisis erupted from a branding experiment gone terribly wrong.
Which begs the question, would a war of such magnitude have occurred if something like this played during a national Canadian event? Would America’s “Neighbours of the North” be up-in-arms during a Grey Cup or Stanley Cup game? The answer is an obvious no for multiple reasons.
As a country that prides itself on multiculturalism, Canada recognizes and accepts the languages of the land without discrimination. We saw how powerful inclusion can be during the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, when an effective marketing strategy and a beautiful song, performed by a then-unknown Nikki Yanofsky, seemed to unite an entire nation for two weeks and a new sense of pride sprouted in the phrase “I am Canadian.” Perhaps that was Coca Cola’s true intention; bring together a divided country in time to cheer on their athletes at the Sochi Olympics later this month.
Apparently, the concept of an “American Dream” was reserved strictly to the inhabitants of the country. The irony that nearly all of American citizens were once immigrants of the land is not lost here. Would the commercial have been more appropriate if it were sung in a Native American language such as Cherokee? After all, English has never actually been recognized as the official language the United States.
What aimed to become a trending topic on Twitter with the hashtag #AmericaIsBeautiful shamelessly placed at the end of the ad, sparked an almost immediate smear campaign and viral boycott of the soft drink manufacturer. Notable figureheads throughout America commented on the matter, with conservative political commentator Glenn Beck taking to his personal account to say the ad’s purpose was to divide the country, while only a rare few, such as Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, congratulated it.
The controversial commercial went so far as to include, for the first time in the event’s history according to GLAAD, a gay couple spending quality time with their daughter. While Coke, one of the main sponsors of the Sochi Olympics, has remained silent on their stance of gay rights until now, the commercial aimed to show how progressive and inclusive of a company they are. However, in a country encountering court appeal after court appeal on the subject of same-sex marriage, it did not bode well for the still fairly conservative population.
Instead, the video should’ve been preserved for a Canadian audience, where the country has welcomed, with open arms, all marriages regardless of sexual orientation since 2005. Of course, with a move like that, the exposure and reach of the commercial would hardly be that of the Super Bowl but would’ve been far more embraced by the public as a whole, garnering positive media instead of the wildfire that has occurred thus far.
The dialogue regarding the commercial should veer away from political standings and focus on the beauty of the original message that Coca Cola is for everyone. After all, much like Canada’s national anthem, “Star Spangled Banner” speaks of a land of the free and home of the brave so why can’t that be a reality for the millions of culturally diverse people that make up the country?
Video & Photo Credit: Coca Cola & Youtube