Coca-Cola’s “America the Beautiful” Super Bowl ad sparks debate

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(CNN) — Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl commercial Sunday night was at first glance a moving tribute to America’s diversity, featuring a full minute of ordinary people of different races and ethnicity doing ordinary American activities, as the classic song “America the Beautiful” plays throughout the ad.

Nevertheless it became one of the most polarizing moments of the night. Why? The song was sung in different languages in addition to English, which sparked an uproar on Twitter.

@BudLightBro: “Not a fan of the CocaCola commercial. America The Beautiful should not be sang in any other language other than English. Sorry not sorry.”

@Rob2TurntFoster: “I didn’t like the coca cola commercial last night because I couldn’t understand it.”

@mmahathy: “I will be drinking Pepsi after your Super Bowl commercial. We welcome all people but being American should be an honor. @CocaCola #tcot.”

@janicehr55: “I am truly disappointed in @Coca Cola for the offensive #SpeakAmerican commercial last night. Speak English!”

Former Rep. Allen West explained why he and others were so upset by the ad.

“The last thing any of us should want to see is a balkanized America,” he wrote in a blog post Monday morning. “Furthermore, it has to be of concern that we have Americans who lack the resolve to take a stand for our borders, language, and culture.”

West, a Republican from Florida, was not petitioning for a boycott of Coca-Cola products, but argued the song should have been sung in English and showed U.S. military members of diverse races.

“If you truly want to show a diverse commitment to service, sacrifice, and honor that enables us to live in ‘America the Beautiful’ that would have been rated the best commercial advertisement of the Super Bowl.”

And as Washington grapples with tackling immigration reform, the ad also became fodder for that ongoing debate. Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted a reference to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, whom she has criticized for supporting some GOP efforts to resolve the illegal immigration problem.

@IngrahamAngle: “But illegals will learn English, right @RepPaulRyan? Coca-Cola’s “America the Beautiful” Super Bowl ad #EnglishFirst”

Others were quick to blame Republicans for making hay about the ad. Former White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe tweeted: “Looking forward to RNC banning Coca-Cola products at 2016 Convention.”

His tweet, of course, brought its own wave of criticism, as some compared it to the controversial MSNBC tweet last week that assumed conservatives would be offended by a Cheerios ad about a biracial family.

@amylutz4: “MSNBC called. They want their smear campaign back Rt @davidplouffe: Looking forward to RNC banning Coca-Cola products at 2016 Convention.”

While the Coca-Cola commercial certainly had its critics, it also had plenty of people coming to its defense, including Republicans, such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski ‏of Alaska.

@lisamurkowski: “My favorite commercial so far? Coca Cola’s America the Beautiful ad. Gave me goosebumps, and I don’t even drink pop! #superbowlcommercials.”

The Heritage Foundation, a high-profile conservative think-tank, also tweeted out support for the ad Sunday night.

@Heritage: Did anyone else like the @CocaCola commercial as much as we did? What a beautiful nation we have! #SuperBowl

The debate continued Monday morning with plenty of other people defending the ad—and blasting those who took issue with it. The term “America the Beautiful” became a trending topic on Twitter the United States.

@Originale_Pink: “wait, wait, wait…so people are genuinely upset that the Coca-Cola commercial was multi-lingual?”

@speatsm: “I’m embarrassed for those who felt that coca cola commercial was a problem. Actually, you’re the problem. #tolerance”

@littlegirlLiv: I liked the Coca-Cola commercial, it represented the people. Not everyone that is considered an American speaks English. Hello diversity.

People also stood up for part of the ad that showed a gay couple with their daughter. It was apparently the first time a gay family appeared in a Super Bowl ad.

“Including a gay family in this ad is not only a step forward for the advertising industry, but a reflection of the growing majority of Americans from all walks of life who proudly support their LGBT friends, family and neighbors as integral parts of ‘America the Beautiful’,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement.

Peter Shankman, a branding and social media consultant, predicted Monday that all the dust-up over the commercial will soon settle.

“The people who are online criticizing it and the racists and the homophobe, and all those–that’s going to be gone. They’re not going to be talking about this in three weeks. The people that it resonated with are the people who are actually going to spend the money to buy the product,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Or, in other words….

@ThaBeetusBoy: “The fact everyone is talking about the Coca-Cola commercial with mixed reviews just means Coke is #winning.”

By Ashley Killough

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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