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Coca-Cola’s “America is Beautiful” Ad Controversy refers to the xenophobic backlash against a multilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful” that was broadcast as part of Coca-Cola’s commercial during the Super Bowl XLVIII in early February 2014.
On February 2nd, 2014, Coca-Cola unveiled its Super Bowl advertisement featuring the 1895 American patriotic song “America the Beautiful,” as sung by people of various ethnicities in several different languages (shown below).
Following the commercial’s broadcast, many Twitter users began criticizing the commercial for including non-English variations of the patriotic song in tweets with the hashtag “#BoycottCoke.”
— Craig Nowlen (@thebetternowlen) February 3, 2014
America is beautiful in plain English #boycottcoke is the # 1 boycott hashtag. Long live Pepsi. I will never order a coke again!
— Domain Names (@NameOrder) February 3, 2014
The same day, Fox News host Todd Starnes tweeted that Coca-Cola is a soft drink for illegal aliens.
Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border. #americaisbeautiful— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) February 3, 2014
On February 3rd, artist Ainee Fatima tweeted that bigots who wished to boycott Coke should know that Pepsi is led by a Hindu woman and a Muslim man. In the next 24 hours, the tweet accumulated over 650 retweets and 450 favorites.
All the white people threatening to boycott Coca Cola should know that Pepsi is lead by a Hindu Women & Muslim man :) pic.twitter.com/xBMpgijRZj— Ainee Fatima (@Faineemae) February 3, 2014
On the same day, conservative pundit Glenn Beck claimed that the Coca-Cola ad was made to divide Americans during a segment on his podcast. Also on February 3rd, news anchor Brenda Wood defended the commercial and criticized those who called for a boycott of Coca-Cola (shown below). On the following day, Redditor FlowersOfSodom posted Wood’s clip to the /r/videos subreddit, where it received more than 11,900 up votes and 2,200 comments in the first 13 hours.
On February 4th, Redditor blukirbi submitted an image macro mocking the Coke backlash to the /r/funny subreddit, where it received more than 10,300 up votes and 600 comments in the first 11 hours (shown below, left). On the same day, Redditor Spodormon submitted a “Fuck Me, Right?” image macro regarding the controversy to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit, gaining upwards of 8,300 up votes and 320 comments in the following eight hours.
News Media Coverage
In the coming days, several news sites published articles about the online backlash to the ad, including NY Daily News,USA Today, Mediaite, Time, Salon, UpRoxx and the Huffington Post.