It never ceases to amaze me that so many people have no problem with publicly outing themselves as racists. When the controversy over Coke’s Super Bowl ad, “It’s Beautiful” sparked the next social media outrage, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Mere months ago these same people were decrying family staple Cheerios for their depiction of a multiracial household. The ignorance and hatred of these bigots speak for themselves, and I’m glad to see that many are being publicly shamed for their remarks.
However, I’m not in favor of lauding brands like Coke or Cheerios when they put out ads such as these. If we could separate the Coke brand from the commercial and call it a mini-short film, then I think the Super Bowl ad was beautiful and moving. But let’s not mistake the touching sentiments of a commercial for anything but a paid advertisement designed explicitly to either sell you a product now or make you favor their brand when making future purchasing decisions. Big brands like Coke spend millions for one spot during the Super Bowl and know they need to create an ad that will be buzz-worthy after the big game. The fact of the matter is that a worldwide brand like Coke can afford a bit of controversy. I dare say they’re not worried about any threats of boycotts from people who will soon find themselves unlikely to avoid ubiquitous Coca-Cola products. Meanwhile, progressives are rushing to show their support of the brand’s “bold” stand.
Am I saying that Coke masterminded the whole thing, knowing it would be controversial? Not exactly – I’m not a complete cynic. Although, having spent years in the advertising industry, I can tell you that you’re probably more susceptible to ads than you think you are. Major brands like Coke have plenty of money for research to get it just right, especially when it comes to arguably the biggest advertising event of the year.
All I’m saying is, we shouldn’t let a sentimental commercial draw us into supporting a brand – that’s what they’re designed to do. There are much better ways of showing your support of equality than posting a picture of yourself with a can of Coke to your lips. We should be less blinded by stunning ad campaigns, and more concerned with company business practices when we making purchasing decisions. I don’t have a problem with people supporting Coke’s choices in commercials, but I do have a problem with them being hoisted upon some progressive pedestal. In reality the Coca-Cola company isn’t exactly virtuous. They will still be Sochi Olympic sponsors (despite Russia’s anti-gay laws in place during the games), create serious impacts to the world’s environment, and have had questionable labor practices, some of which in 2000 resulted in a settlement of a racial bias case.
Really great ads, like this latest from Coke, can swell our hearts with emotion and make us want to take action. I think it’s great that this has brought to light those among us might need an education in equality, and hope that folks will harness that energy to do just that instead of running out and buying a Coke.