Today that company is Coca-Cola, who is garnering the ever-popular racist type of criticism for an ad featuring an Arab man losing a race.
But the makers of Coke are in good company. Volkswagen was criticized earlier this week for issuing a “racist” Super Bowl ad in which a white person and a Chinese person speak in Jamaican accents. The New York Times columnist Charles Blow, reportedly went so far to call the ad “blackface with voices.”
Arab-Americans are up in arms about Coke’s ad, which features an Arab man in a group with “cowboys, Las Vegas showgirls and a motley crew fashioned after the marauders of the apocalyptic ‘Mad Max’ film” in which they “race by [the Arab] to reach a gigantic bottle of Coke,” Reuters wrote describing the ad.
At the end of the ad, the showgirls, cowboys and “bandlanders,” (as they are labeled on the Coke website) all arrive at the large Coke bottle, but, unfortunately discover that the bottle is actually a sign telling them that the sugary refreshment is 50 miles that way. In that scene, The Arab is nowhere to be seen since he was left in the dust when his camel refused to continue walking.
“Vote now to decide who wins. COKECHASE.COM” appears on the screen. Anyone so inclined to vote will notice the Arab is, again, non-existent in the poll.
“The Coke commercial for the Super Bowl is racist, portraying Arabs as backward and foolish Camel Jockeys, and they have no chance to win in the world,” wrote Imam Ali Siddiqui, president of the Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies, in an email.
Taco Bell, another high-calorie indulgence, recently pulled their ad for a different reason when the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) called out the fast food chain for “disparaging healthy vegetables in its Superbowl ad,” according to one of their tweets. Let’s be honest: only a handful of Americans actually care to actually eat diet-friendly chick food during a sporting event party, especially the Super Bowl.
The Mercedes ad featuring Sports Illustrated 2012 cover model Kate Upton wasn’t looked kindly upon, either. Conservative watchdog group The Parents Television Council said the advertisement “isn’t selling cars, it’s selling sexual objectification.”
Come to think of it, the Coke ad could be very close to completely racist if not for the black cowboy and black showgirl. Everyone else in the advertisement, save the Arab-American, is white. It’s comparable to television shows that get highly criticized for not having a diverse-enough cast, including ABC Family’s “Bunheads” or HBO’s “Girls.” Watch the Coke ad and decide for yourself.
Super Bowl XLVII airs Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on CBS.