Super Bowl Ad Celebrates Diversity of Our Immigrant Nation

Even people with no interest in football watch the Super Bowl each year. The ads have gained a reputation for being spectacularly entertaining, worth watching in their own right. With ad rates hovering around $4 million for a 30-second spot, corporate sponsors have to make every second count – and they do: each commercial is a movie-in-miniature. The best of them are crisply written and briskly paced, salted liberally with memorable jokes and sight gags, special effects, and top celebrities.

Coca-Cola took a different tack in a 60-second spot that celebrates ordinary Americans, in all of their beautiful diversity – a unique diversity that reflects our nation’s immigrant heritage. The sonic backdrop is a multilingual version of “America the Beautiful” – perfect accompaniment for a visual montage honoring the multicultural nation we have become: a cowboy on horseback, riding through big sky country in the American West; surfers bobbing in the waves at dawn; children breakdancing on a street corner, and sightseeing in the painted desert; a family meal in a restaurant. The cast is multiracial and multiethnic, even religiously diverse – the montage includes men in yarmulkes and women in headscarves. It even shows a gay couple embracing their daughter. The spot ends with a western scene and the hashtag America is Beautiful. [View the video here.]

There was a sense of unity in all this diversity, and that was the point: except for the Native Americans, all of us here have immigrant roots, and we should take pride in this, because it’s indisputably a source of our nation’s great strength. No single group has a monopoly on what it means to be American, and that’s a good thing, because every culture adds something valuable to the mix. It’s a wonderfully upbeat message.

Though many praised Coke’s commercial, not everyone viewed it in a positive light. Some took to social media to blast the company for its multicultural message, upset that the soundtrack was not entirely in English – that the people on screen looked like “immigrants,” and for various other reasons of a less-printable nature. [See Coke Ad Draws Outrage, Praise During Super Bowl, by James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly, 02.Feb.2014. [  One suspects that if these people truly understood the cultural and economic benefits of immigration, they just might change their minds. [See, e.g., Immigration Reform: Battling Fear with Facts, MurthyBlog, 05.Mar.2013 and Immigrants Key to U.S. Economic Growth, MurthyBlog, 26.May.2011.]

And how is Coca-Cola responding to the criticism? By increasing that 30 second spot to a longer ad during tonight’s opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. [Listen to NPR’s Coke Ad Sparks Cries on Social Media to ‘Speak English, 07.Feb.2014.] Hats off to Coke for celebrating the beautiful diversity of this great country!

By the way: we can’t let this opportunity pass to congratulate the Seattle Seahawks on their stunning Super Bowl victory! Having opened MurthyWest in Seattle last year, we are proud to be part of the life of that great city. Now, we’re not saying there’s a connection, but the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2013 – and our main office is in Baltimore – and the Seahawks won the 2014 Super Bowl just six months after we opened MurthyWest in Seattle. Mere coincidence? We think not!

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