Coca-Cola says did not intend Super Bowl ad to be derogatory

Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:24pm EST
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co held what it called a "productive conversation" with an Arab-American group that labeled the firm's Super Bowl ad racist, but will not change the commercial featuring an Arab walking through a desert with a camel.

"We did express regret that the ad had been misunderstood," Coca-Cola spokeswoman Lauren Thompson said in an email. "We are very concerned by these allegations and in no way is our ad meant to be derogatory to any group."

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which sharply criticized the commercial, said on Thursday it was pleased with the company's apology and explanation, and believed the issue had been resolved.

On Wednesday, the group had said it would ask Coca-Cola to change the spot before CBS airs the game this coming Sunday in front of an expected audience of more than 100 million U.S. viewers.

Thompson said Coca Cola had not changed the ad, which was released online last week. It shows an Arab walking through a desert pulling a camel, as cowboys, Las Vegas show girls and a motley crew fashioned after the marauders of the apocalyptic "Mad Max" film, race by him to reach a gigantic bottle of Coke.

The ad asks viewers to vote online on which characters should win the race. The online website does not allow a vote for the Arab character.

The ADC and other groups cried foul over the image, and also the fact that it was not possible to vote for the Arab character.

Warren David, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said Coca-Cola had been "very apologetic."   Continued...