Coke ad racist? Arab-American groups want to yank Super Bowl ad (+video)
Coke ad racist? That's the charge being made about Coca Cola's new Super Bowl ad, set to air this Sunday. Arab-Americans have sharply criticized the 'racist' Coke ad, which depicts an Arab walking through a desert with a camel.
Arab-American groups have sharply criticized a¬†Coca-Cola¬†Super Bowl ad depicting an Arab walking through the desert with a camel, calling the coke ad 'racist.' ¬†One group said it would ask the beverage giant to change it before CBS airs the game on Sunday before an expected audience of more than 100 million U.S. viewers.
"Why is it that Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers?" said¬†Warren David, president of the¬†American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC.
Coca-Cola¬†released an online teaser of the commercial last week, showing the Arab walking through a desert. He soon sees cowboys,¬†Las Vegas¬†showgirls and a motley crew fashioned after the marauders of the apocalyptic "Mad Max" film race by him to reach a gigantic bottle of Coke.
In its ad, Coke asks viewers to vote online on which characters should win the race. The online site does not allow a vote for the Arab character.
"The Coke commercial for the Super Ball is racist, portraying Arabs as backward and foolish Camel Jockeys, and they have no chance to win in the world,"¬†Imam Ali Siddiqui, president of the¬†Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies, said in an email.
"What message is Coke sending with this?" asked¬†Abed Ayoub, ADC's director of legal and policy affairs. "By not including the Arab in the race, it is clear that the Arab is held to a different standard when compared to the other characters in the commercial," he said.
CBS declined comment.¬†Coca-Cola¬†spokeswoman¬†Lauren Thompson¬†said Coke took a "cinematic" approach with the ad, employing the characters as a nod to movies of the past.
"Coca-Cola¬†is an inclusive brand enjoyed by all demographics," she said in an email. "We illustrate our core values, from fun and refreshment to happiness, inspiration and optimism across all of our marketing communications."
Ayoub said ADC intended to contact Coke and CBS Corp on Thursday to "hopefully start a dialog."
"I want to know why this happened and how can we fix this if possible before Sunday," he said.
Ronald Goodstein, professor at the¬†McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, said he was surprised by the image as well. "If Coke's vision is to be an arm's distance away from every customer, why would they want to offend the Arab world?" said Goodstein.
Ayoub said the commercial could harm Coke's business with the Arab community.
"Coke should understand and respect their consumers and have a better understanding of the market they are sharing," he Ayoub.
The company has a large market share in the¬†Middle East¬†and¬†North Africa, he noted, and many convenience stores and other retail outlets in the¬†United States¬†that offer Coke are owned by Arab-Americans.