A Coke ad made for the Super Bowl is being called racist by an Arab-American group, who wants it to be changed. One group is asking that the commercial, which depict an Arab walking through the desert with a camel, be changed prior to airing on Super Bowl Sunday.
“Why is it that Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers?” said Warren David, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC.
The Coca-Cola online teaser of the commercial was posted last week. It shows the Arab walking through a desert, cowboys riding horses, Las Vegas showgirls driving a bus and a motley crew riding motorcycles all racing towards a gigantic bottle of Coke.
The ad asks viewers to vote online for which characters that want to win the race. However, voters do not have the option to vote for the Arab character.
“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.
“What message is Coke sending with this?” asked 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,” he said.
CBS declined to comment. Coca-Cola spokeswoman Lauren Thompson said Coke took a “cinematic” approach with the ad, employing the characters as a nod to movies of the past.
“Coca-Cola is an inclusive brand enjoyed by all demographics,” she said in an email. “We illustrate our core values, from fun and refreshment to happiness, inspiration and optimism across all of our marketing communications.”
Ayoub said ADC intended to contact Coke and CBS Corp on Thursday to “hopefully start a dialog.”
“I want to know why this happened and how can we fix this if possible before Sunday,” he said.