Coca-Cola has pulled and apologized for an advertisement that depicted a group of fair-skinned young people visiting a remote Mexican town and handing out bottles of Coke to indigenous people and building them a Christmas tree.
The ad (shown below) was pulled from Coca-Cola Mexico’s YouTube channel last week, Fox News reports.
The commercial was part of Coca-Cola’s “Abre Tu Corazon” (“Open Your Heart” in Spanish) campaign. It was, according to the ad, meant to “break down prejudice and share.”
The ad showed a group of well-dressed young people working to build a red wooden Christmas tree in the town of Totontepec in the eastern mountains of Oaxaca where many of the inhabitants speak a language known as Mixe.
The commercial opens with a message saying that 81.6 percent of Mexico’s indigenous population feels rejected for speaking a language other than Spanish.
“This Christmas a group of young people decided to give something very special to the indigenous community of Totontepec (Villa) de Morelos in Oaxaca," the ad copy reads. "You, too, open your heart."
Once the tree is built, it lights up with a message that reads “We will stay united” in Mixe.
Diana Turner, a representative for Consumer Power which is a group in the national Council to Prevent Discrimination, said that her group was going to formally ask the company to pull the ad.
“It's outrageous for the indigenous,” Turner said, according to Fox News,
Others took to social media to complain about the ad campaign.
“Coca-Cola is working on some genius colonial branding in Mexico with its out-of-touch, racist #AbreTuCorazon campaign,” one person wrote on Twitter.
After pulling the ad from its YouTube channel a Coca-Cola spokesman sent a statement to Eater, apologizing for the commercial.
“As part of Coca-Cola México's Christmas campaign for this year the video ‘Mixe Community Totontepec’ was launched on digital channels, seeking to convey a message of unity and joy,” the statement said. “Our intention was never to be insensitive to or underestimate any indigenous group. We have now removed the video and apologize to anyone who may have been offended. In nearly 90 years in the country, Coca-Cola Mexico has worked to share messages of unity and friendship to contribute to build a society free of prejudices.”