By Hope Imaka – EMTV Online
Estimated at a staggering $79.1 billion, Coca-Cola is one of the world’s most recognised brands to date.
“Open Your Heart”; this was the message exhibited in the Coca-Cola ad promoted in the recent week that sparked a feud from communities in Mexico.
The distributed ad by Coca-Cola Mexico displayed pretty, white youth partaking in their holiday good deed by bringing bottles of soda to a remote village and build a wooden Christmas tree in the town square.
According to indigenous rights’ groups, the campaign promoted colonialism rather than unity.
“This type of publicity is an act of discrimination and racism,” Elvira Pablo, an indigenous lawyer, said at a press conference in Mexico City on Wednesday. “It is a comment on our type of life and an attempt to put a culture of consumerism in its place.”
Following a one week promotion on YouTube, the ad was pulled on Tuesday after being slammed on social media. Despite being pulled from YouTube, various other versions of the ad can be found online; one being titled “The ‘White Saviour’ Ad Coca-Cola Made Private.”
“Our intention was never to be insensitive to or underestimate any indigenous group,” a Coca-Cola spokesperson said in a statement to food news site Eater. “We have now removed the video and apologize to anyone who may have been offended.”
The video shows peppy fair-skinned actors bringing bottles of Coke to the Mixe people in Totontepec, a town in the southern state of Oaxaca.
The ad showcased statistics of 81.6 per cent (without citing its source) of Mexico’s indigenous people feeling rejected for speaking a language other than Spanish; ending the ad with “#AbreTuCorazon” or “#OpenYourHeart.”
According to a report in, The Guardian, Pablo and other activists said the ad “reproduced and reinforced stereotypes of indigenous people as culturally and racially subordinate.”
The Alliance for Food Health has filed an official complaint with the National Council to Prevent Discrimination. To counteract Coca-Cola’s message, the Alliance for Food Health created its own video, including Mixe people speaking about the soda industry’s influence on their community.
“Fifty years ago, cases of diabetes type 2 in our indigenous communities were rare,” says one person, speaking in the Mixe language. “Now they begin to be an epidemic. In order to remain united, we must preserve our dignity, our health, and our culture. In Oaxaca, we drink tejare, tea and clean water.”
Despite Coca-Cola pulling back its ad, the damage has already been done.