Dubbed “Ferguson to Madison,” the rally drew striking social parallels between the two cities.
By Fred McKissack
Conservatives shouldn't be having a fit over Coca-Cola's Super Bowl ad.
Conservative commentators and bloggers would have you believe that the Coca-Cola Co. is spitting on the graves of our forefathers and plotting to burn down American civilization.
The ad is called "It's beautiful," and it features "America the Beautiful" being sung in different languages, as images of modern America flicker by.
The Coca-Cola Co. and its creative partner, Weiden+Kennedy, have managed to unhinge conservatives who see a plot.
"It's in your face, and if you don't like it, if you're offended by it, you're a racist," says Glenn Beck, who claims the commercial is an attempt to "divide people."
Beck sounds mild compared to some people on Twitter.
"Nice to see that Coke likes to sing an American song in the terrorist's language," one concerned citizen tweeted. Others were even uglier, slurring minorities.
What exactly did this commercial do to offend conservatives?
Coke didn't imply that this country's immigration strategy is flawed, and Congress should fling open the borders to ragtag masses yearning to be free.
Coke didn't suggest that English should be a secondary language in the United States.
No, it exalted America, saying it's for everyone. Just like Coca-Cola, we're supposed to conclude. Coca-Cola wants everyone to buy its products. It doesn't care about your political philosophy.
That's another reason why the conservatives who are clamoring for a boycott of Coca-Cola are so off-base. This wasn't an ideological ad. It, like other Coke ads in the past, was a sell job.
Coca-Cola's brand achieved universal status with aspirational campaigns. Its ads from World War II suggest the drink brought a taste of home to the troops and united potential allies. Post-Vietnam, Coke was the real thing that healed rather than divided. Coke can be seen in films ranging from "King Kong" and "It's A Wonderful Life" to "E.T." and "The Road."
Even as conservatives froth at the mouth condemning the ad, liberals shouldn't applaud it.
Last year, Coca-Cola, despite noting that it had profit growth during "uncertainty in the global economy," announced it was cutting 1 percent of its work force -- 750 jobs. I'm sure those who lost their jobs are reassured that their former employer believes in America's diversity.
Coca-Cola Enterprises, a bottler that sold its North American operations to Coca-Cola, pulled jobs out of its Tampa, Fla., and Dallas offices to a third-party center in Guatemala. It's called "nearshoring" and it's a benefit Coca-Cola continues to reap, but what does nomenclature and financial strategy matter to an employee who is given a pink slip?
And no amount of cheerleading for America can hide the fact that Coca-Cola, along with other soft drink companies, has played a big role in our obesity epidemic.
We should be upset about the duping of America, not the diversity of America.
Fred McKissack lives in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he hopes spring will eventually come. He isn't hopeful. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Copyright Fred McKissack.