There have always been a fair number of viewers that tune into the Super Bowl specifically to see companies unveil their latest and greatest commercials. Advertisers like Bud Light even spend weeks building up to the day, teasing their new ads (this year it was those commercials with Arnold Schwarzenegger in short shorts and a wig playing ping pong). During the game on February 2, soft-drink giant Coca-Cola unveiled the ad that has garnered the most public attention this year, though not for the reasons they initially hoped. More on that later. The spot features people singing “America the Beautiful” in a variety of different languages. This new video imagines some of proposed tongues that didn’t quite make the cut.
This video originated at Garlic Jackson Comedy, which is a suitably wacky name for what we can assume is a wacky bunch of folks. Who else starts a comedy troupe? Some of the languages that they think the Coca-Cola executives summarily rejected are things like pig latin, dolphin, morse code, and my personal favorite, bear attack. Who knew bear attack was a recognized language? You can’t really blame them for passing on most of these, after all, there aren’t that may people who are fluent in hieroglyphics, and the whole thing sounds significantly less warm and fuzzy in Klingon or Dothraki.
The whole idea behind the commercial was to celebrate this big, mixed up hodgepodge of people and cultures that we call America. Their message was intended to be, “The only thing more beautiful than this country are the people who live here.” Boy did that plan backfire.
Almost immediately the backlash began. Apparently many in the viewing audience took exception to hearing “America the Beautiful” (which was also frequently mistaken for the national anthem, unfortunately enough) sung in a language other than English. Mostly conservative politicians and pundits came out of the woodwork to publicly decry the ad, and there was even a #boycottcoke hashtag floating around on social media.
Many also took offense to the inclusion of a pair of gay fathers in the commercial. Some anti-LGBT folks objected to it on the usual moral and political grounds, but there was also blowback from the other side, claiming that the ad didn’t go far enough. Gay columnist Dan Savage tweeted, “Now, @CocaCola? Put a pair of Russian gay dads in an ad that you run in Russia—during the Olympics. #CheersToSochi.”
I vaguely remember the ad airing during the game. As a lifelong Seahawks fan, my attention was otherwise occupied, but I don’t remember thinking, this is going to piss off everyone, but it certainly did. Here’s the original for comparison.