Just days after Coca-Cola Mexico released a new commercial depicting young white people on a mission to “share Coke with a smile” in a remote area of Oaxaca, Mexico, serious backlash hit the soda company for its racist implications. And now consumer rights and health groups, in addition to Coke fans, have urged the Mexican government to pull the ad from air.
In the commercial, Coca-Cola says the #AbreTuCorazon (“Open Your Heart”) campaign is meant to “break down prejudice and share.” Then it goes on to say, “This Christmas a group of young people decided to give something very special to the indigenous community of Totontepec (Villa) de Morelos in Oaxaca. You, too, open your heart.” These messages display on screen as blond women and men cheerfully construct a red wooden tree and seemingly bring joy to the locals of the community.
Still, the AP reports that the Alliance for Food Health-a coalition of consumer rights and health organizations-has called on the Mexican government to block the commercial entirely, arguing that it both attacks the dignity of indigenous people and contributes to the deteriorating health of Mexican communities.
Coca-Cola has removed the ad from its YouTube channel and all planned televised spots, telling teleSUR that its message was misinterpreted. To explain further, the company sent Eater a spokesperson’s statement: “As part of Coca-Cola México’s Christmas campaign for this year the video ‘Mixe Community Totontepec’ was launched on digital channels, seeking to convey a message of unity and joy. Our intention was never to be insensitive to or underestimate any indigenous group. We have now removed the video and apologize to anyone who may have been offended. In nearly 90 years in the country, Coca-Cola Mexico has worked to share messages of unity and friendship to contribute to build a society free of prejudices.”
Overall, the idea of introducing Coca-Cola to Mexico could be perceived as ignorant. Eater points out that Mexico is a larger consumer of soda-with Coca-Cola dominating the market share there-than America and, according to the AP, this has effectively caused the country’s rates of obesity and diabetes to sky-rocket.
With both racist implications and health risks involved, this is one touchy subject for the soda company to handle. We’ll let you be the judge of whether it’s worthy of the scathing criticism it has received.
Written by Rheanna O’Neil Bellomo of Delish