Coca-Cola and #AmericaIsBeautiful … Redefining “America”


We don’t pull out our soap box often, but we think this is a particularly worthy occasion to do so. But before we do, we want to ask you a couple of questions.

1. Have you and your family ever enjoyed the Christmas-time classic, “White Christmas”?
2. Do you use Google or Yahoo! on a regular basis?
3. Do you have a tiny crush on Natalie Portman (it’s okay, we do, too)?
4. Were you a fan of Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon as one of the best centers the NBA has ever seen?
5. Are you an AT&T customer?
6. Do you clean your dishes with Dawn?

…or how about this one…

7. How many times have you sung “God Bless America”?

Think about those things for a moment. We’ll come back to them.

If you haven’t heard yet about the Coca-Cola “America is Beautiful” Super Bowl commercial, then you’re either living under a rock, or you haven’t been on Twitter for a couple of days.

(Here are a couple of stories — here and here (no longer available) — to catch you up on the facepalmingly silly controversy.)

Screen shot from the "America is Beautiful" Coca-Cola 2014 Super Bowl commercial.
Screen shot from the “America is Beautiful” Coca-Cola 2014 Super Bowl commercial.

The bottom line is, we’re confused.

“We” as in, Sweb Development — an ethnically diverse digital marketing agency, pioneered and led by a fearless Latina and her husband, a Hispanic numbers-savvy kind of guy. Our graphic designer is from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The grandparents of our social media manager were born in Monterrey, Mexico. My paternal grandparents were Irish, and my maternal grandparents were German Jews. Keep digging, and you’ll find that our web developer shares my Celtic background, and our mobile guy’s family is as British as they come.

And this kind of diversity isn’t just Sweb… it’s probably you, too.

Ask yourself, where is your family from? And don’t just stop there — think about your grandparents, and their parents and grandparents. Odds are, unless you’re Native American, you aren’t from here. You’re most likely here because your family immigrated here years ago.

According to the Pew Research Center, over 21% of Americans, five years of age or older, speak a language other than English at home. That’s over 1/5th of the population.

And according to government Census research, in 2007, minority-owned businesses numbered 5.8 million, up from 4 million in 2002. Seeing as it’s seven years later, that number has likely gone way, way up.

See, this isn’t just you, either. It’s America as a whole.

So, I guess that’s the question, isn’t it — what does the word “America” (or “American”, for that matter) mean anymore?

Well, I think Coca-Cola got it right.

America isn’t a homogeneous country with universal religious beliefs or moral ideals. That would mean we’re simple, and easy to define.

But we’re not.

America is an amalgam of stories. Stories of struggle, of pain and loss, of fighting to get where we are, and working hard to stay here. We’re all free to hold our own opinions, practice our own faiths, marry who we want to marry, and be exactly who we are — no one else. And we’re free to enjoy those rights. Our fathers, mothers, grandparents, great-grandparents, and in some cases (like our CEO’s) we ourselves have paid in blood, sweat, and tears, for this freedom.

We’re all proud of where we’ve come from, and we’re all proud to be where we are. I have no more right to be “American” because my great great-grandparents arrived here from Germany two centuries ago, than my Hispanic neighbor whose mother brought him here twenty years ago.

Immigrants at Ellis Island. Photo courtesy of
Immigrants at Ellis Island. Photo courtesy of

We are the same. We could pull in all sorts of current social issues, including race, gender, sexual orientation, religion… but when it comes down to it, we all just want the right to be who we are.

And we’re all “America”. 

Now, back to our list of questions… Here are some things for you to ponder, regardless of political bias.

1. The timeless family classic “White Christmas” was written by Irving Berlin — a Russian-American immigrant.
2. If Google and Yahoo! are your search engines of choice, thank a Russian-American immigrant (Sergey Brin) and Taiwanese-American immigrant (Jerry Yang), respectively.
3. The Academy Award-winning actress was born in Israel, and moved to the States in the ’80s.
4. Hakeem “The Dream” is from Nigeria, and became an official U.S. citizen in 1993.
5. Thank Alexander Graham Bell, a Scotsman-turned-American immigrant.
6. Dawn is a Procter & Gamble product. William Procter was an English immigrant to America, and James Gamble was an Irish immigrant.
7. This American anthem was also written by Irving Berlin.

So, the word “America” is no longer just a place, or an ideal. It’s a dream. More importantly, it’s a dream that has finally been realized.

And that’s what makes “America” — all of us — beautiful.

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