James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, February 03, 2014

Coke gives bigots the finger

During last night's Super Bowl, Coca-Cola ran a commercial featuring a multi-language version of "America the Beautiful:"

Listening to The Dan Le Batard Show today, he read Tweets (or perhaps comments from another source) such as (paraphrasing):
  • "I didn't serve my country only to have people come here and not speak English."
  • "They're singing in the language of terrorists."
  • "I'm boycotting Coke!"
  • "They should sing in American!"
Coke had to expect a reaction like this, and they went ahead with it anyway. While many think this corporation markets unhealthy products, its ambition is universal in scope.

Yes, Coca-Cola wants English-speaking Americans to drink Coke. But it also wants the growing number of non-English-speaking to drink Coke. If a few of the English-speaking Americans are offended, and will boycott Coke for the crime of recruiting more customers, the Coca-Cola company can live with that. It'll come out ahead.

Whether or not Coke's beautiful message of diversity springs from humanitarianism, or is a marketing ploy, even those offended by it must admit it's been around for a long time:

Somehow, this message of peace, love, and understanding works for Coke. When Coca-Cola looks at you, it doesn't think of you in terms of your skin color, your language, your religion, or even your nationality:

Instead, it views you as a potential customer.

It's about as high a status as there is in the world. Individuals divided and treated according to categories such as language, nationality, religion, and skin color really don't have much power at all to stop how they're being treated, precisely because they're treated as a member of a group, instead of as as individuals. But individuals treated as customers have power. They can accept or reject what's offered them. They must be satisfied.

For whatever Coke's faults, the company understands this, as illustrated by the three beautiful commercials above.


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