When 30 seconds of advertising costs about $4 million, you’d better bet Coca-Cola’s minute-long Super Bowl commercial was well thought out. The ad simply featured “America the Beautiful,” sung in different languages by people of different colors.
And yet, this ad might be the most deviously effective commercial of the night. Why?
First, we were forced to remember that there are still a significant number of idiots like these out there:
Coke you MESSED up! America the Beautiful is ENGLISH sung! NO MORE COKE FOR THIS FAMILY!!! #Cokesucks
— Lisa Cobb (@LisaCobb18) February 3, 2014
And the more ignorant, comically misled ones (let’s think about this for a second):
Only in America a commercial in Spanish #fuckcoke
— Donnie (@GlassDonnie) February 3, 2014
Then, after having exposed our less seemly cultural elements, the #fuckcoke hashtag was taken over by people speaking out against racism, battling oppression, and fighting the good fight—to support Coke!
To all you #fuckcoke people-- Have a Coke and a Smile ;)
— Geek Girl Diva (@geekgirldiva) February 3, 2014
The reaction on all sides was incredibly vitriolic, and entirely predictable.
The commercial itself was benign: a well-produced nod to our country’s multiculturalism, and unassailable in the PR world. And yet, airing it during one of America’s lowest-common cultural denominators, it was inevitably going to stir up some rather vocal morons. And, just as inevitably, the more level-headed majority would undoubtedly call back against these obscenities.
Who could have predicted that? Well, anyone worth their salt in marketing (you probably caught wind of the recent racist backlash against Cheerios).
By anticipating the public reaction, Coke was able to take a one-minute commercial and turn themselves into freedom-fighters and cultural trailblazers, spitting in the face of intolerance! Standing firm against all odds! Helping us to realize the true nature of our American Creed!
The best marketers in the world know that the game has changed. Victories are not won in the brief television spot, but in the conversation afterwards. Millions of dollars to control the airwaves are wasted if you’re not controlling people’s ideas.
As I tweeted during the heat of the discussion:
— Joel Meyerson (@jmeyerson) February 3, 2014
Everyone bashing the commercial, everyone bashing the racist response, everyone supporting Coke, and (lets not kid ourselves) everyone writing analytical blog posts about Coke’s marketing strategy, are playing right into their hands.
But you know what? After a long day of battling bigotry and corporate manipulation, I could sure go for a nice, refreshing Coca-Cola.
They’re the best.