Coca-Cola, Conservatives, and Negativity

February 3rd, 2014

During the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola aired a commercial called “It’s Beautiful,” with scenes of diverse Americans living their lives. The audio track for the ad was “America the Beautiful” and it was pretty obvious that Coke was going for a “feel-good” spot. But the ad created a firestorm on Twitter, mostly from conservatives. The biggest reason? “America the Beautiful” was sung in multiple languages.

Foolish me, I thought the ad was effective.

I didn’t think Coke was trying to send a message on immigration policy, and I wasn’t offended in the least. I was actually pleasantly surprised that Coke left the word God intact in the song. A few were complaining that there was a gay couple shown in the ad but I didn’t really notice. It wasn’t exactly in your face. No, the big uproar was about singing an American patriotic song in languages other than English. How dare they do that!

Let’s get a couple of things straight.

America is not so much a country as it is an idea. And that idea is freedom. Liberty. America is not here to protect the English language, it’s here to protect and promote freedom. Should immigrants learn English if they’re going to live here? Absolutely. In fact, they’re putting themselves at a major disadvantage if they don’t. But what’s it to you and me if they want to use their native language too? Do we really want the U.S. to become France with our own version of their Toubon Law

And what’s with some conservatives wanting to boycott Coke products now? Was that Super Bowl ad really indicative of some sinister one-world government agenda that the Coca-Cola company now supports? Is Coke trying to persuade us that open borders are the way to go? Make no mistake, Coke has only one agenda—to sell as many of their products as possible to as many people as possible. When it comes to selling Coke, they’re equal opportunity, and they only see one color: green. Conservatives of all people should get this.

I haven’t blogged about politics much recently, but those who’ve followed my writing over the years know that I’m conservative on most issues, both politically and theologically. One thing that turns me me off about progressives is the way their movement tends to focus on the negative. But if my Twitter feed from last night is any indication, progressives certainly don’t have a monopoly on negativity anymore. And that saddens me.

This year’s Coke ad was supposed to be reminiscent of the positive Coke ads of years gone by. Remember that commercial on the hilltop in Italy? It debuted before I was born, but aired well into my childhood.

I’d like to teach the world to sing
in perfect harmony,
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
and keep it company.

I’m sure the Archie Bunkers of the world complained about the ad back in 1971, but by most accounts, it was a success, and it no doubt sold a lot of Coke. People remember it fondly because it was positive. A lot like the ad last night.

Some of the folks complaining about the "America the Beautiful" ad, on the other hand, are coming off as negative and whiny. How they can take a positive conservative message like freedom and opportunity and turn it into something negative is beyond me. But they're managing to do it, and their voices are the ones people are hearing. I don't believe most conservatives are xenophobic, but the few who are (and those who appear to be) are poisoning public perceptions of the overall movement.

There's a lesson in this for those of all political persuasions. Choose your battles. If you make everything a big deal, no one's going to know when it's really a big deal

Stay classy, Coke drinkers.

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