Coca-Cola ad in Mexico attacked for insensitivity to indigenous rights and health

By Money Times

Dec 02, 2015 09:50 AM EST

A new Coca-Cola ad in Mexico has come under fire by consumer rights and health groups for its portrayal of indigenous groups.

The Guardian reported that the Alliance for Food Health would formally ask the National Council to Prevent Discrimination to pull the ad campaign immediately. The alliance states that, "it's an attack on the dignity of indigenous people and contributes to their deteriorating health."

To give some background information, the Associated Press stated that Mexico is already suffering from tremendous rates of obesity and diabetes, stemming from the country's major consumption of soda and sugared drinks, especially among the indigenous population.

Sharing similar qualities to Coke ads before that asked the viewer to share one of their products and smile or sing, the commercial encourages the viewer to "break down prejudice and share". The commercial's story involved young, white model-type people using Coke as a way to connect to a local indigenous group outside of Oaxaca as a service project.  

Deemed "faux philanthropy", the ad is "outrageous for the indigenous" said Diana Turner with the Associate Press.

The holiday ad begins with the young men and women working on wood and welding before heading off to the mountainous region of Totontepec in a truck. Cheering and laughing, they run through the town, carrying coolers full of Coke and wood boards, with the local Mixe community smiling at their entrance. 

Once they get to the center, they construct and paint a red wooden Christmas tree, while handing out bottles of Coke to the locals. The caps on the bottles become the lights on the tree in which the young visitors and locals, arm in arm, marvel in fondly. The ad ends with a shot of the Christmas tree lighted with the words "We will stay united" in the Mixe language.

During the commercial, Coca-Cola describes the situation this way.

"This Christmas a group of young people decided to give something very special to the indigenous community of Totoentepec de Morelos in Oaxacz. You, too, open your heart."

"Abre tu Corazon", or, "Open Your Heart" in Spanish is the name of the campaign. Both the video and the hashtag campaign (#Abretucorazon) have been under attack.

Taken down December 1, the comments on the criticized video support the alliance's and Turner's feelings about the message saying, "Coca-Cola is working on some genius colonial branding in Mexico with its out-of-touch, racist #AbreTuCorazon campaign."

Coca-Coca has yet to publicly respond to the negative reviews. 

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