A Coke ad has been called racist for depicting an Arab walking through the desert with a camel, a stereotype that Arab-American groups say is offensive.
The Coke ad was set to debut before an audience of 100 million US viewers during Super Bowl XLVII, but the beverage company may have to make some changes. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC, is asking Coke to change the ad it calls racist.
“Why is it that Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers?” said Warren David, president of the ADC.
The Coke ad being called racist was unveiled in part last week, Reuters reported. In the ad, an Arab walking through a desert runs into cowboys, Las Vegas showgirls, and a crew of post-apocalyptic marauders in the style of the movie Mad Max, all of them racing to reach a giant bottle of Coke.
The Coke ad was actually meant to be interactive, with the company asking people to go online and vote for who should win the race. The Arab leading the camel was not part of the voting.
This feature irked some Arab-American groups.
“The Coke commercial for the Super Ball is racist, portraying Arabs as backward and foolish Camel Jockeys, and they have no chance to win in the world,” Imam Ali Siddiqui, president of the Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies, said in an email.
The Coke ad is not the only one being called racist. The ad, from Volkswagon, portrays a white man who speaks to everyone he sees with a Jamaican accent. Though many question whether the ad was racist, The New York Times‘ Charles Blow describing it as being “like blackface with voices.”