Some people called the Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial racist, and this Coke Chase commercial is getting the same treatment.
According to a report over at Reuters, Arab-American groups have sharply criticized the ad depicting an Arab walking through the desert with a camel. “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.
Coca-Cola released a teaser of the ad last week, showing an Arab walking through a desert. He soon sees cowboys, Las Vegas showgirls and a rag-tag group of marauders a la “Mad Max.” They’re all racing towards a giant bottle of Coke, and viewers are asked to vote online on which character should win the race (but the online site doesn’t allow a vote for the Arab character).
“The Coke commercial for the Super Bowl 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.
I’m kind of with Coke on this one. Coke spokeswoman Lauren Thompson said they took a “cinematic” approach with the ad, using the characters as a nod to movies of the past. The ad DOES give off a “Laurence of Arabia” vibe, doesn’t it? It doesn’t bother me, but then, I’m not Arabian.
What do you think? Is this ad racist? Does it bother you?