A recently launched Coca Cola ad has been accused of promoting racism towards native Mexicans, and some organizations have even called for the commercial to be banned.
The advertisement is being broadcast as part of the “Open your Heart” (Abre tu Corazon) campaign, devised by Coca Cola Mexico in anticipation of the Christmas holidays.
In the video, a group of young, hipster-looking Caucasians is shown collaborating enthusiastically, as they saw and paint wood in a workshop. This image is in stark contrast with that of indigenous Mexicans who are being portrayed as lonely, despondent, and devoid of any zeal for life.
However, everything changes in the local Mexican community of Totontepec de Morelos in Oaxaca, once the youngsters resembling fashion models arrive in a Chevrolet El Camino truck, bringing containers of Coca Cola, as well as a large, red Christmas tree, built out of Coke bottles.
The newcomers and the natives celebrate together, and happiness is restored in that remote region, as the miracle beverage allows the indigenous population to feel more integrated and connected to the outside world.
The video finishes by zooming in on the tree’s Christmas lights, which spell out the message “We will stay united”, written in the language of the local Mixe people.
The professed purpose of the ad is to reveal how important inclusiveness is, mentioning that 81.6% of all indigenous Mexicans are faced with distress and alienation due to the fact that they don’t speak Spanish.
Instead, the commercial has sparked debate, as critics have accused it of displaying bogus philanthropy and racism, by making indigenous populations appear helpless and doomed, unless white people can come rescue them, bringing them the beacon of civilization, represented by the Coke bottle.
According to the Alliance for Food Health, aside from the fact that the ad depicts the native community as dependent on handouts from Caucasians, another problem posed by the new Coca Cola campaign is that it encourages unhealthy eating habits among Mexico’s native inhabitants.
The country is already riddled with an ever-growing number of cases of type 2 diabetes and obesity, and one of the explanations for this unsettling trend is the fact that its inhabitants are avid consumers of sugary beverages such as Coke.
Therefore, as the consumer advocacy coalition pinpoints, the controversial, racially offensive ad also serves to condone and perpetuate unwholesome dietary practices, which is why it should be discontinued immediately.
Apparently, a formal request addressed to the National Council to Prevent Discrimination has been issued, calling for the Coca Cola campaign to be halted.
As emphasized by Diana Turner, PR for Consumer Power, one of the groups that have been scandalized by the ad, under the pretext of combating prejudice, Coca Cola has actually greatly injured the dignity of indigenous groups, by making them appear at the mercy of Caucasians.
The video, which had been posted on YouTube, has also elicited heavy criticism from online viewers, due to the way it portrays white people bringing their allegedly superior culture to the poor Mixe community, in an instance which is eerily reminiscent of colonialism.
In response, representatives of the Coca Cola Company have declared that they appreciate the feedback, and that the customers’ opinions will be reviewed and taken into consideration.
Apparently, the commercial was eventually deleted from the YouTube channel, but no other comments have been issued by the beverage maker.
Image Source: The Guardian