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Coke Ad Called Racist: How Did Coca Cola's Super Bowl Ad Offend Arab-American Groups?

By Staff Reporter on January 31, 2013 10:51 AM EST 0

Coke Ad
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee are calling Coca Cola's latest Super Bowl ad discriminatory against Arabs. (Photo: YouTube)

Coca-Cola's latest ad was just released on YouTube two weeks ahead of the 2013 Super Bowl and it has already received considerable attention -- but not the kind the company prefers.

The commercial was criticized by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC, for its negative depiction of an Arab man. The group asked the soft drink to modify the ad before it will air on CBS for Sunday's main event.

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"Why is it that Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists or belly dancers?" asked ADC president Warren David.

The Coke commercial is set in a desert, first showing an Arab walking his camel through a desert. He is suddenly joined by a band of cowboys, Las Vegas showgirls and a gang of "Badlanders," inspired by the cult-dystopia flick "Mad Max." The coming together of the three factions is no coincidence -- they're all here for a gigantic bottle of coke.

As the three groups race neck-and-neck for the prize, the Arab character is left tugging on a stubborn camel. In the end, Coke asks viewers to vote online on which characters they'd like to see win the race. Coca-Cola did not include the Arab and his camel in the vote.

"The Coke commercial for the Super Bowl is racist," says Imam Ali Siddiqui president of the Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies, "portraying Arabs as backward and foolish Camel Jockeys, and they have no chance to win in the world."

"What message is Coke sending with this?" demands Abed Ayoub, ADC's director of legal and policy affairs. "By not including the Arab in the race, it is clear that the Arab is held to a different standard when compared to the other characters in the commercial."

Addressing the controversy, Coca-Cola spokesperson Lauren Thompson assured that the goal of the latest Super Bowl Coke commercial was to provide a fun cinematic experience.

"Coca-Cola is an inclusive brand enjoyed by all demographics," said Thompson. "We illustrate our core values, from fun and refreshment to happiness, inspiration and optimism across all of our marketing communications."

More than 100 million viewers will watch this ad during Sunday's Super Bowl. Should Coca-Cola modify or pull its ad before the game? Do you believe it's racist or is the ad all in good fun? Let us know in the comments below.

Be sure to watch the Coca-Cola commercials that are scheduled to air during the Feb. 3 Super Bowl match.

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