Perhaps you don’t live in the US. Or perhaps you fall into that large number of Americans that do not bother to follow or watch American football. If you fall into either of those categories, you likely missed the benign controversy over a Coke commercial that aired during the game. The ad in question had “America the Beautiful” sung in a slew of different languages while typical American pastimes played through several clips.
Apparently, this angered some conservative pundits, who felt that this went too far in pushing America down a multicultural rabbit hole. This resulted in a knee-jerk defense of the commercial from liberal pundits, looking to score a few cheap points at the expense of scarce right-wing blowhards. Jamelle Bouie at the Daily Beast argued:
“Every so often, there are cultural hubbubs (like this one) that inspire a little liberal triumphalism—a sense that we’re on the “right side” of history, and that, in the end, we’ll win. This is nonsense. Laugh at the right-wing reaction to Coke as much as you’d like, but don’t think this reflects a favorable balance of political power.”
You see, people take Super Bowl commercials seriously for some odd reason. It’s not enough for financial interests to just sell a product, but to make a statement that will reverberate beyond the game itself. This is when American corporations try and convince us that they are as American as apple pie and Taco Bell. As ridiculous as conservative criticism of the Coke ad is, I simply have to ask: when did we buy into the idea that corporations are patriotic and moral based on their unambiguous breed of advertising?
The celebratory nature of this ad demonstrates the shallow nature present in our national discussion on social and economic issues. Columnists and media pundits have merely accepted the ubiquitous role corporations have staked for themselves in our social fabric. Did folks like Bouie consider the fact that Coke is eyeing for the largest market possible, and not interested in pushing progressive social reform? The fact that only a few morons came out in opposition to the ad demonstrates just how safe their marketing strategy is. Taking a swing at the likes of Glen Beck and Allen West is not bold, just easy. Worse yet, Coke knew that they would be championed by pundits and media personalities for free in the pages of their newspapers and outlets.
For Christ’s sake, Coke sells fizzy water packed with corn syrup. The only reason they make a “political statement” is to generate more buzz which keeps their brand name in the public discussion. We have let these soulless, nationless, capitalists frame the entire debate in a way that benefits them and their financial interests. We treat them as if they are part of our social fabric, a representation of our culture as a whole, when they are nothing more than massive companies intended to sell us goods they know we don’t need. You might enjoy a cola from time-to-time, but don’t buy some soda company’s line that they are part of our nation.
And with that, I have now added time and bandwidth discussing Coke’s ad like it matters.