Things go better with Coke’s Super Bowl commercial

Lee A. Daniels | 2/17/2014, 9:22 a.m.
What could anyone who loves America find offensive about Americans singing one of the nation’s unofficial national anthems, America the ...
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. He collaborated with Rachel Robinson on her 1998 book, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. NNPA

So, just as businesses in the 1960s began to ignore the racist objections some Whites raised to Black Americans appearing in mainstream advertisements and commercials, so businesses today have learned that there’s a great economic and social profit in recognizing the reality of America’s social landscape – and consumer marketplace.

That point was underscored, revealingly, by the inclusion among the other Super Bowl ads of the “second edition,” if you will, of the commercial for Cheerios cereal featuring a Black-American husband, his White-American wife, and their biracial daughter.

You’ll recall that when the first Cheerios ad featuring this “commercial family” appeared last spring, it immediately drew a barrage of racist comments in the Twitterverse – that, in turn, was quickly overwhelmed by thousands and thousands of tweets of support.

This time around, General Mills (maker of Cheerios) had the father announcing to the daughter she would soon have a baby brother. There were some noticeable racist responses on Twitter to the ad; but advertising agencies and experts who gauge viewer reactions to commercials found the negative reaction far less than that of last spring.

The insight the story of the Cheerios commercials offers was actually expressed – in the negative – by the other remark West made about the Coca-Cola America the Beautiful commercial. West said: “If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing [America the Beautiful] in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl by a company as American as they come – doggone we are on the road to perdition.”

Suppose we change that silly statement to read: If we can be proud enough as a country to value Americans singing America the Beautiful in multiple languages in a commercial by a company as American as they come – doggone, we’ll be on the road to renewed greatness.

If we can do that, then, no matter what the language, we’ll all be singing in tune.

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City.