The holiday season brings so many expressions of goodwill, from churches and non-profits to corporations demonstrating acts of kindness. Coca-Cola meant for their new Christmas ad in Mexico to convey a sense of Christmas cheer and goodwill, but so far, it has only courted controversy to the extent that the company pulled the ad and issued an apology.
The commercial begins with a stat which translates, “81.6% of indigenous Mexicans have felt rejected for speaking another language” and features a group of hipster-ish college-age folks bringing joy to a community of indigenous people by sharing Cokes with them and putting up a Christmas tree made of painted wood and lit with bottle tops.
Okay, so the kids are unusually good looking (what young people in ads aren’t these days?), but what would make the spot so controversial? The young do-gooders are essentially simply sharing a message of unity with a group of people who often feel slighted in the larger Mexican society. But certain activists have deemed the ad racist (because the urban kids have lighter skin than the poor indigenous people, of course) and decried the clip for pushing sugary sodas.
Watch the clip for yourself, and you’ll see that the commercial is only racist if you’re looking to read something racist into an otherwise heartwarming Christmas ad.