Coca-Cola Baits Allen West With Vision of Dystopian, Multilingual America

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 3 2014 10:36 AM

Coca-Cola Baits Allen West With Vision of Dystopian, Multilingual America

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Marvel at the diversity!

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Allen West, the one-term congressman and possible candidate for something else, someday, wants you to know that the Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad disturbed him.

[I]t started rather patriotically with the words of “America the Beautiful.” Then the words went from English to languages I didn’t recognize. Now, I know the politically correct thing is to foster multiculturalism — working really well in Europe — but we should remember the words spoken by President Teddy Roosevelt: "Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country."
... If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing “American the Beautiful” in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition.
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This is what we in the media refer to as a "smart take," and it's en route to 14,000 shares on Facebook, from people who always hated that 43-year-old "Teach the World to Sing" ad and have finally found a venue for their spleen-venting. The sharers seem to be acting in earnest, and they've inspired West, who was a host on PajamasTV until late last year, to summon his latent ad-making skills.

Here is my recommendation of what the Coca Cola marketing executives should have done. Coke’s “America the Beautiful” should have been sung in English and showed Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen of diverse races, sex, and creed deployed all over the world drinking Coca Cola. 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 we would be here talking about how we were all touched emotionally.

Wouldn't that have been a terrible ad for Coke? Most of its revenue comes from the world outside America. Sales have been picking up in Russia and China as they've stagnated in North America. Raise a hand—who thinks an ad showing smiling soldiers drinking Coke at Commander Fleet Activities Chinhae would have boosted sales in China?

We're talking about a pair of blog posts by a former congressman, sure. This isn't a huge deal. But the Duck Dynasty controversy that ate up the first half of December was pretty minor, too, and as Brian Beutler argued at the time, this sort of fauxtroversy reveals plenty about ideological norms on the activist right.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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