Coca-Cola's Super Bowl 2013 ad, above, is under fire from Arab-American groups for the way it portrays Arabs.
The ad, called "Coke Chase 2013," depicts a race through the desert to a giant bottle of Coca-Cola, and opens on a group of, apparently, Arabs and their camels. Seconds later, enter a group of rowdy cowboys on horseback, some post-apocalyptic bikers, and a pink bus full of Vegas showgirls begin a battle to reach the refreshing pit stop first. Viewers can vote on who should win (we're with the showgirls, who thought to pack a glitter cannon).
The "Arabs" only appear in the beginning of the commercial, and it's not an option to vote for them in the poll, but this is just one issue Arab-Americans have taken with the spot. Abed Ayoub, the director of legal and policy affairs at the the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), did complain specifically about that aspect: "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."
And the camels don't help. Warren David, president of the ADC, wondered why the portrayal of Arabs in pop culture is limited to "oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers," and Imam Ali Siddiqui, president of the Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies, noted in an email that "Coke Chase 2013" is "racist" and "portray[s] Arabs as backward and foolish Camel Jockeys [who] have no chance to win in the world."
A Coke spokesperson explained that the ad's intent was a "cinematic" nod to films of earlier eras. Ayoub was hoping to contact Coke today to discuss pulling the ad.
A few Twitter takes on the controversy so far:
@fnthefive there's nothing racist about the coke ad but but it's peculiar that you can't vote for the Arab.— Nathan Harmon (@Natefame) January 31, 2013
You can watch the ad for yourself up top. Is it racist? A clumsy nod to "Lawrence of Arabia"? Both? Let us know what you think in the comments.
The San Francisco 49ers will take on the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, which airs Sunday 2/3 at 6:30 PM on CBS.