Coca-Cola is trying to up its reputation in Mexico, but went about it totally the wrong way. The soda giant has now been forced to remove a “racist” video ad after angering civil rights organizations in that country.
The new Coca-Cola Christmas commercial aired recently in Mexico and was meant to send a message of unity to the country’s indigenous population; instead the ad reportedly discriminates against and attacks the dignity, culture and health of those same people.
Coca-Cola launched their new ad via social media with the hashtag #AbreTuCorazon or “Open Your Heart.” The message of the ad is that “81.6% of indigenous people have felt rejected for speaking another language,” and it goes on to call on Mexicans to “overcome that prejudice.”
— MarketWatch (@MarketWatch) December 3, 2015
As reported by the Mirror Online, among the text revealed in the video commercial Coca-Cola states, “This Christmas a group of young people decided to give something very special to the indigenous community of Totontepec de Morelos in Oaxaca. You, too, open your heart.”
The video – which can be seen below – shows a group of young Caucasian people arriving at the remote Mixe town of Totontepec in Oaxaca, western Mexico. For one thing, several among the group are blond and bear little or no resemblance to the average Mexican.
As the group arrives in the village, they construct a giant red Christmas tree and hand out cans of Coca-Cola to the people in the town, whose faces light up as they gaze at the beautiful tree and accept the free handout.
As reported by El Pais, while the video calls on people to overcome prejudice, according to Elvira Constantina Pablo, a Mixe lawyer from Aser-Litigio, the commercial actually feeds prejudice, saying, “it is racist and discriminatory.”
Aser-Litigio is a group that provides legal services to indigenous people and has joined with other civil rights organizations in the country to urge the Mexican government’s anti-discrimination office, Conapred, to “take action against Coca-Cola’s campaign.”
Coca-Cola has since pulled the ad from YouTube, with a spokesman saying, “We appreciated you sharing your concerns. We will be sure to pass along your comments.” However, Pablo insists that the damage has already been done.
“They should set a precedent to regulate and penalize discriminatory commercials.”
Pablo herself has been subject to discrimination in the past and went on to say that the ad feeds stereotypes by projecting an “image of dependency.” She said in the ad the indigenous people say nothing, “they only let the white person who offers them help hug them.” Pablo says that this promotes an attitude which she and other indigenous people suffer on a daily basis.
“People look at you in a strange way for dressing in traditional clothes and when you go into a mall, they keep watching you because they think you’ve come to steal.”
As is so often the case, while Coca-Cola pulled their offending Christmas commercial from YouTube, parodies of the video are still doing the rounds and will keep on doing so in order to haunt the soda company.
One such parody denounces the plight of indigenous communities and the health risks associated with drinking the beverage.
— #FreeTenharim (@PersonalEscrito) December 3, 2015
In that video the indigenous people speak out to remind the audience that almost one-third of the Oaxacan community has no access to running water and that 2.8 million indigenous people have no access to health services.
One such parody of the Coca-Cola ad is included below for those who understand the Spanish language.