Coca-Cola apologizes for ‘indigenous people ad’ in Mexico

Updated: December 7, 2015
Coca-Cola apologizes for "indigenous people ad" in Mexico

A Coca-Cola Mexico spokesman says the company apologizes and has pulled an online ad after it was deemed offensive to the country’s indigenous by consumers, media and advocacy groups.

The “Open Your Heart” holiday campaign started receiving criticism when it debut online last week. In the video, white people are shown driving into the remote hills of Oaxaca to treat the indigenous community with a festive Christmas tree made of Coca-Cola bottles and caps. If that doesn’t sound like White Savior 101 to you just yet, wait till you read the ad’s copy.

The ad, which was made private before it was pulled late Tuesday, starts with this note in Spanish: “81.6 percent of indigenous Mexicans have felt like outcasts for speaking another language other than Spanish.”

That’s when the heroic white folks develop this brilliant idea of bringing happiness in the form of a Coca-Cola Christmas to Totontepec. Together, with the help of a few grateful brown people from the village, the group lights up the Coke “tree,” with the words “let us all be one and united” in Mixe, the native group’s language, appearing on the screen.

But no modern-day campaign is complete without a hashtag, and this one hopes to get viewers to believe that a group of outsiders making their way into a community uninvited and bringing “cheer” from a holiday the natives don’t celebrate is akin to opening your heart, or, as Coca-Cola’s prefers, #AbreTuCorazón.

Not unlike other offensive campaigns, Coca-Cola, specifically director of publicity Diego Bracamontes, said that the company never meant to offend anyone. He also said — now get ready for the biggest eye-roll of your life — that the message, which was supposed to be about unity, was misinterpreted.

Sportact Editors and Wire Services