Coca Cola aired this “America the Beautiful” advertisement during the 2014 Super Bowl football game. First published in 1910, the song, “America the Beautiful,” brandishes sentiments of America’s vast geographic landscapes “from sea to shining sea,” and has remained a potent artifact of American nationalism. Traditionally, “America the Beautiful” is sung in English — the language in which the lyrics were originally composed. However, in this rendition, Coca-Cola employs the hymn as a means to unite America’s diverse ethnic landscape; the lyrics are divided amongst seven different languages: English, Spanish, Keres Pueblo, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese French, and Hebrew. As the ad visually traverses different American landscapes (the Great Plains, California surf, city environments, the Grand Canyon and other distinctly American settings), people of different ethnicities are pictured.
The advertisement begins with “America the Beautiful” sung in English. Does the use of English as the leading language encode some form of preeminence to native English speakers?
Does the exclusion of Mandarin and Arabic (two significant languages within American society) implicate viewers of these demographics? What message is sent through the advertisement’s exclusion of particular languages? What if English had been excluded?
How does the ad create potential connections between symbols of American nationalism and ethnic diversity?
In the advertisement, Coca-Cola clearly brands itself as ‘America’s soft drink.’ Is there an economic advantage for Coca Cola marketing to “Americans” as a unified populace composed of all ethnic representations?
How does this ad potentially create connections between America’s history of immigration and current socio-political landscape? Why?
For the purposes of advertising, constructing national identity through a utopian lens is hugely important to Coco-Cola’s success. The Coca-Cola “America The Beautiful” advertisement intentionally broadcasts positive aspects of American culture as a means to facilitate positive associations with advertised products, while deliberately excluding various socio-political challenges and shortcomings that America currently faces. Additionally, the advertisement also fails to include Mandarin and Arabic in favor of less prominent languages, like Keres Pueblo or Tagalog. In doing so, Coca-Cola potentially frames Chinese and Middle-Eastern viewers as non-American. Producing such ethnically charged content certainly has consequences — the potential for alienation or exclusion of different groups— and Coca-Cola endured significant backlash following the advertisement’s Super Bowl debut as a result.