Coca-Cola has a special place in my heart. And, unfortunately, my gut, too, but I’m not here to talk about that.
While most people link the company to Atlanta, the soda was first bottled in Mississippi, in Vicksburg. The rest, as they say, is history.
Through the years, Coke has been quite adept with its marketing. The Santa Claus we see today was made popular by one of the company’s early campaigns way back in the 20th century.
The slogans that stand out in my mind the most are “It’s the real thing,” “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” “Have a Coke and a smile” and “Coke is it.”
By any measure, Coca-Cola has been a master at marketing and branding.
So that leads us to last week’s big Coke commercial during the Super Bowl that has stirred controversy.
It was a feel-good message, or so Coke thought.
But Coke apparently went too far – for some, anyway – in having people sing “America the Beautiful” in not only English, but other languages, too.
According to critics, that’s reason enough to boycott Coke and to slam the company for its insidious participation in globalization.
Last I checked, Coca-Cola was a global brand, sold in countries around the world.
I don’t quite understand the fury behind singing “America the Beautiful” in other languages. We should be pleased with the compliment. Why should we be insulted?
This country was built upon the backs of many non-native speaking people. Ask the Native Americans. But if you’d like to forward to 1776 and afterward, don’t forget the Italians, Germans, Polish, Chinese and others “non-Americans” who immigrated to this country. They came for a better life, but they also helped turn it into the country it is today.
Tell my Chinese-born parents they can’t sing “America the Beautiful” any way they’d like, especially after escaping the Communist army in 1949 and making their way to the U.S.
Dad sat on top of a train with his brothers and mother watching the dust of the invading Red army take over their home town, their family home and their business. His father had traveled to and from America since 1916, but was in the U.S. at the time of the invasion, looking to firmly establish a home.
Dad proudly calls America home. He speaks perfect English, along with Chinese. My mom, like my grandmother and many other Chinese women who came with their husbands in the 1940s and 1950s, never got a perfect command of English. By most standards, it’s pretty lousy.
But they’re flag-waving, red-blooded Americans, too. They renounced their Chinese citizenship, pledged allegiance to America so many years ago and raised their children here. We, too, are flag-waving, red-blooded Americans.
Just like the millions of others who came from around the world.
If they – or I, for that matter – want to sing “America the Beautiful” in Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic or Urdu, it’s because we love this land as much as anybody.
“America the Beautiful” is true in any language. Too bad the commercial has brought out the ugliness of too many Americans.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org