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Carol Anne Costa: Have A Coke and A Big Glass of Intolerance

Thursday, February 06, 2014


Super food, Super ads, Super parties, Super Bruno, and Super Bowl; the game...not so much. So many of us watch the Superbowl for the pre game, the ads, halftime show and oh yeah, the gridiron clash. This year was no exception, although the blowout of the Broncos provided a real yawner by the second half. Thank heavens for creative ads and Bruno Mars. It seems the jury is still out on the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but all in all good fun. The unofficial national holiday usually gets people talking about everything but football, unless, of course, the Pats are playing.

The ads this year really tugged at the heartstrings; more sentimental than silly. Our favorite Cheerio girl was back and lobbying with leverage for a puppy. Not all the ads were surprises, as agencies did some previewing through social media, a smart move given the 4 million dollar price tag for Super exposure. I know my FB page blew up in advance of the game, as I met the adorable puppy smitten with a Clydesdale featured in the Bud advertisement. That promotion went viral and yet it still was fun to watch game day on the big screen. And yes, everyone I was with uttered the collective, “awww”. It was John Krasinski's coffee table that set the Twitter ablaze for the Esurance giveaway. I hope he delivers it to me in person, then I can stop waiting for Publishers Clearing House. It was the wisecracking comedian W.C. Fields who warned way back when, “Never work with kids or animals.” He was correct on both counts, and modern day mad men know it to be a tried and true winner. When you combine the value added power of kids, hugs, puppies and ponies with FB, Twitter, and the possibility of winning a big pay and the worlds biggest game. Kaboom, We have lift off! But, it wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows...

Coke Controvery

Then came the Coke Commercial, and did it ever send heads spinning. As I watched and listened to the moving, multilingual rendition of America the Beautiful in real time, I had an instinctive feeling it might not sit well with some folks. But, I held out hope, crossed my fingers, cringed and checked my Twitter feed. Yikes! The immediate feedback reminded me of the craziness that ensued after Nina Duvaluri was crowned Miss America. So much hate in 140 characters. And, the freedoms afforded in our constitution allow people to spread their abominable and distasteful messages, and conversely others including me to soundly reject them.

As a nation we are slowly growing older, browner and more ethnically and religiously diverse and in my view, culturally richer. I say that as a proud, third generation American. According to recent census demographics of the approximately 316,128,839 citizens: 73% are identified as white, 13.1% as African America, 5.1% Asian, .02% Hawaian, 16.9 % Latino and let’s not forget the real natives of this land the Native Americans at a mere 1.2%.

The statistics of change are inevitable, yet the publicly expressed intolerance is posted with unabashed histrionics. Even the GOP in its 2012 election “autopsy”, commsioned by Reince Preibus recognized that words matter and a more diverse GOP will make the party stronger going forward, as stated in a quote from the Growth and Opportunity Report ,”Our standard should not be universal purity; it should be a more welcoming conservatism.” Words to live by and not just for the sake of a vote but for the health of our vibrant country.

A Nation of Immigrants

The reaction to the Coke commercial is yet again America talking past each other and seizing only minutia which is used to bolster a pigeonholed and narrow perspective. Uttered for and by the “This is my country” clans. You know them, “the real Americans”. The myopic opinions touted in the Twittersphere post ad were scary. They exemplify hate speak, finger pointing and so much of what separates us, as well as moving people to take up positions, where, from the start, there simply can be no common ground and seemingly no retreat.

The irony of this whole conversation is we are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation built on the backs of the laborers, the carpenters, the stone masons, the tool makers, the bridge builders, the welders, the metal workers, the artisans, the chefs, the entrepreneurs and on and on and on. We are a country whose sense of exceptionalism grows from founding fathers who envisioned a magnificent quilt woven with the strengths, dreams and passions of the multitudes. Kudos to the advertising team who created a TV spot which is a symphony, as it captures the beauty and strength that is America.

Coke--and Liberty

For me, this country is the best nation that has ever graced the face of the Earth. It is built on a foundation of equality, stubbornness, rebellion, unity, debate, disagreement, forgiveness and grounded in the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...for all. I find it so disturbing when the people who wrap themselves in the flag use every chance they can to drag down difference rather than celebrate what the stars and stripes really represent. The cacophonous rants which ensued after the Coke commercial are troubling, foolish, ignorant and protected. In the words of Voltaire, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

I too will never step on the right to free speech but, I will use every chance I have to call out those whose blusters spew truly un-american values for what they really are, parochialism. Avere una Coca e un sorriso! Tener una Coca-Cola y una sonrisa! აქვს Coke და ღიმილი! יש קולה וחיוך! Colę i uśmiech! 有可口可乐和微笑! Have a Coke and a smile!

Carol Costa is a public relations and community outreach specialist; she has experience in both the public and private sectors. She is the Chairwoman of the Scituate Democratic Town Committee and has extensive community affairs and public relations experience. She previously served in the Rhode Island Judiciary for nearly 17 years. Carol also enjoyed a successful development stint at the Diocese of Providence as Associate Director for Catholic Education and is currently a public housing manager. Her work has been published in several local outlets including GoLocal, Valley Breeze, The Rhode Island Catholic, and Currents Magazine.


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While I agree that we are becoming a mixed society, would you please explain how diversity makes us, as a nation, stronger? Specifics vice vague generalities, please.

Historically the U. S. was a melting pot; people learned the language, were proud to be part of a successful nation, strove and climbed the social ladder. Today we have large groups that don't learn the language, don't succeed, (in part to the language barrier), and disparage this nation. Again, how does this make us stronger?

Comment #1 by Jimmy LaRouche on 2014 02 06

Jimmy - Please take the time to visit an agency like the Dorcas International Institute of RI for one day and then tell me what you think about your experience. I've seen many newcomers to this country who learn the language, succeed, and cherish this nation for its greatness. Most want to succeed when presented with the opportunity. I am also well aware that there are hundreds of thousands of American-born citizens that don't succeed and rely on the government for support. 40% of these folks are white. The legislators must reform the laws to de-incentivize choosing welfare over choosing work and provide more opportunities for those who are already seeking work. Having a rich nation of hundreds of different cultures makes us stronger when we can all appreciate the value of the knowledge and experiences each and every one of us possesses.


Comment #2 by Rich B on 2014 02 06

liberals brains are a melting pot!

Comment #3 by LENNY BRUCE on 2014 02 06

"Hundreds of different cultures" some of which eat dogs and cats. Just what the founding fathers desired, and which, rather than MELTING, demand their own language come before English on the answering machine.

Comment #4 by G Godot on 2014 02 06

Coke's ad agency could have chosen to show and link the Coke brand to America's diversity visually, showing the faces of various ethnicities, etc. That they chose to do so with the sound of various languages was clever, and it worked nicely. The Superbowl airs internationally, and Coke is an international brand, so the commercial also worked
for the larger audience.

Comment #5 by Art West on 2014 02 06

Was wondering how long into the article the phrase "hate speak" would appear. That is the new catch phrase for progressives to label people with a different point of view on issues of race. Very clever tactic to try and villainize people of a different mind set.

Personally, I was not especially upset by Coke's advertisement. However, when by the writer's own words 70+% of Americans are identified as White, and the commercial featured an overwhelming majority of diverse faces, I can understand how some people may be offended. I may not agree with it, but I can understand.

Quite honestly, Coca Cola is garbage, so if they wish to appeal to new arrivals, good for them. If in fact they are truly appealing to us as one people, good for them. Let's not fall into the abyss of ascribing evil thoughts to everyone who expresses concern or a differing point of view on the changing complexion of America.

Are we a nation of immigrants, duh. Is America the greatest country to live, duh. So spare us the platitudes,pleeze.

Comment #6 by Walter Miller on 2014 02 06

Lots of analysis here but let's call it was it is, a company reaching out to different demographics to sell their product. It's called capitalism.

Comment #7 by Marie Dawn Christie on 2014 02 07

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