Super Bowl TV ads are usually well-thought out -- they have to be; they are so pricey (Groupon's 2011 FUBAR notwithstanding). However, on Wednesday, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC, complained about Coca-Cola's upcoming Super Bowl XLVII ad.
Coca-Cola's online teaser of the ad was posted last week (embedded). While not the full ad, and part of a voting promotion, it shows an Arab walking through a desert leading a camel and a caravan. He runs into cowboys, Las Vegas showgirls in a bus, and a group reminiscent of the marauders in the apocalyptic "Mad Max" film. They all race by him in an attempt to reach a huge bottle of Coke, sitting in the middle of the desert.
In the ad, Coke asks viewers to vote on which of the characters should win the race (at http:/www.cokechase.com). The Arab character, to be clear, is not trying to win the race and cannot be voted upon.
Imam Ali Siddiqui, president of the Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies, said in an email,
The Coke commercial for the Super Ball is racist, portraying Arabs as backward and foolish Camel Jockeys, and they have no chance to win in the world.
bed Ayoub, ADC's director of legal and policy affairs added:
What message is Coke sending with this? By not including the Arab in the race, it is clear that the Arab is held to a different standard when compared to the other characters in the commercial.
Ayoub said that the ADC intended to contact Coke and CBS on Thursday to "hopefully start a dialog."
I want to know why this happened and how can we fix this if possible before Sunday.
It is hard to imagine that Coke could change the ad prior to Sunday.
CBS is broadcasting Super Bowl XLVII, which pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens, but declined comment. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola spokeswoman Lauren Thompson said Coke took a "cinematic" approach to the ad.
Coca-Cola is an inclusive brand enjoyed by all demographics. We illustrate our core values, from fun and refreshment to happiness, inspiration and optimism across all of our marketing communications.
The Coke ad is embedded below; due to embedding limitations the VW ad is available here.