Thursday, January 31, 2013

What's so offensive about Coca-Cola?

What a difference a perspective makes.

Coca-Cola recently unveiled an ad it plans to air during Sunday's Super Bowl. It features stereotypical-looking cowboys, showgirls and "badlanders" racing through the desert for, you guessed it, Coke. Though it's not in any way mentioned in the TV spot, the cowboys' fictional biography on the Coke Chase website describes them as hailing from my county seat of Cody, Wyo.

Here in Park County, I think the general sentiment is that it's pretty cool Cody got an indirect plug in connection with an ad that will be viewed by somewhere north of 111 million people. Cool despite the fact that the Hollywood cowboys are nothing like the ranchers and wranglers you'll find around these parts.

Meanwhile, groups from other parts of the country are coming up with creative ways to get offended.

Here's an incredible quote from a USA Today story reporting on Arab-American group outrage about a man depicted as a stereotypical sheik in the ad:
"The problem with the ad is that it relies on stereotypical characters to tell their story,'' says Chris Lehtonen, president of Asterix Group, a San Francisco-based LGBT and multicultural marketing firm. "While it may not be blatantly racist, the fact that it pits these groups against each other in the ad is insensitive. It is trying to sell their product at the expense of these groups. There are much better ways to tell the story."
It's such a ridiculous argument, I have to wonder if Mr. Lehtonen is feigning outrage just to get his marketing firm's name in USA Today. I mean, isn't he just a small step away from arguing for an end to the Super Bowl? Because when you think about it, pitting groups of men representing different geographic locales against each other is pretty insensitive. And isn't this whole Baltimore versus San Francisco thing just a way to sell products at the expense of the men on the teams?*

There's undoubtedly plenty more opportunities to get offended here (for example, is it really that responsible for Coca-Cola to be promoting the hashtag #CokeCowboys?), but I'd humbly suggest we all just pipe down and enjoy getting products sold to us.

*Actually, that would have been a better argument.

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