Coca-Cola catches heat, hurrahs for ‘America’ ad

More than 300 languages are spoken in the U.S., reflecting a potpourri of ethnicities, nationalities and cultures that, for many, help make America beautiful.

But a Coca-Cola ad that aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl, featuring “America the Beautiful” sung not only in English but six other languages, struck an immediate nerve on social media.

“Totally disgusted. American football game, American TV, American company and you slap us in the face in our own country…. Shame Shame on you!,” Marilyn Medo told Atlanta-based Coca-Cola on Facebook.

“This commercial is a disgrace to America,” @Joe_Spurrier wrote on Twitter, following the tweet with the hashtag #speakenglish.

For others, however, the 60-second ad filled with snapshots of real lives from sea to shining sea, struck a positive note.

“America is supposed to pride itself on embracing other cultures and being a melting pot. I guess some people don’t understand what that means,” Brittany Jenkins posted on Facebook.

“Don’t worry Coke,” Jeff Barr wrote on Facebook. “TRUE American patriots love you!”

In a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, Coke didn’t address the back and forth. The company said people in the ad are Americans and “America The Beautiful” was sung by young bilingual American women. In addition to English, the song is presented in Spanish, Tagalog, Hebrew, Hindi, Senegalese-French and Keres, a Puebloan dialect spoken in New Mexico.

“For centuries, America has opened its arms to people of many countries who have helped to build this great nation,” Coke said in a statement, adding that the ad represents diverse ethnicities, religions, races and families, including a same-sex couple.

Katie Bayne, president of North America Brands for Coca-Cola North America, said the company hopes the ad “gets people talking and thinking about what it means to be proud to be American.”

Coca-Cola allowed scores of people, both for and against the ad, to comment on its social pages.

“Thank you again for showing What America Means to Me,” wrote 74-year-old Liz Stettiner on Twitter.

“It would have been so easy to show the immigrants LEARNING to sing the song IN ENGLISH,” said Skip Sponsel.

A 90-second version of the spot will debut during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia. Full versions of “America the Beautiful” in the seven languages are posted on YouTube and a multilingual version is on Spotify.

The spot was produced by Skunk Productions, under the direction of Australian film director John Hillcoat, with music by award-winning composer Roger Miller.