On Jan. 30, a new Coke ad produced for the Super Bowl came under fire by indignant Arab-American groups. These particular groups believe the giant drinks company has come up with a game day commercial that is racist and, because of this, are demanding that Coca-Cola modify their offering before airing on CBS come Sunday.
According to Reuters, the ad has done away with its animated polar bears who usually show up at Super Bowl time in exchange for a scene that features an Arab and camel making their way through a desert. It is there where this lone soul and his faithful animal companion comes across all kinds of characters, including a gaggle of cowboys on horseback, Las Vegas showgirls on a bus, and bad boys on motorcycles.
The ending of this particular advertisement has not yet been disclosed because of crowd-sourcing for that aspect of the commercial. Voters will continue putting in their choice to win the virtual race throughout the game and when the Super Bowl is decided, the winning commercial will air afterward. So, in essence, regular folks will determine who wins the race (and thus the final outcome) that takes place in the faux desert in an ad by Coca Cola.
So what’s the gripe about this particular scenario?
Arab-American groups partially explained that by way of a question asked by Warren David, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). He says he wonders why “Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers?”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Institute of Interfaith Studies president has also explained to Reuters what he feels is offensive about the Coke ad as it stands ready to play at the end of the Super Bowl. Imam Ali Siddiqui blatantly accused this commercial of being “racist.” In his opinion, he thinks the ad illustrates “Arabs as backward and foolish camel jockeys…”
In response to the concerns that have suddenly started popping up, Coca-Cola’s Lauren Thompson defended the artistic license taken to make this Coke commercial. She said that the high profile beverage company she represents is “an inclusive brand enjoyed by all demographics.”
Thompson goes on to says that the beloved brand shows the firm’s “core values, from fun and refreshment to happiness, inspiration and optimism across all..marketing [efforts].” That said, Coke owns a large presence in countries like North Africa and the Middle East as well as in United States in places Arab-Americans both own and shop.
With that in mind, whether or not this particular ad called racist by certain Arab-American groups, groups who want the commercial altered before airing will be changed before the Super Bowl offering that will be seen by millions of viewers on Sunday, remains to be seen. Meanwhile the aforementioned advertisement is causing quite a stir among Arab-American groups trying to make their point through statements from many factions of their far-flung community.