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Coca Cola Super Bowl Commercial Social Media Analysis

By Rion Martin  •  February 11, 2014

IMAGE BY: Davide Oliva

Coca Cola Super Bowl Commercial Social Media Analysis

Posted by: Rion Martin on February 11, 2014
Rion Martin
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Did you see that extremely controversial super bowl commercial that Coca Cola ran during the Super Bowl? The one where “America The Beautiful” is sung in languages other than English by people of different ethnic backgrounds?

If you’re like the majority of other Americans, you actually didn’t find the commercial controversial. America is, after all, a nation of immigrants.

However, almost immediately after the commercial aired there was supposedly a sizable wave of people who flocked to social media to express their displeasure with Coca Cola.

On Twitter the hashtags, #SpeakAmerican, #SpeakEnglish, #BoycottCoke, and #FuckCoke began trending, and comments like the ones below were reported in news stories everywhere.

 
Negative tweet about Coca Cola commercial
Negative and racist tweet about Coca Cola commercial
 

By the numbers, how much of the conversation was actually xenophobic?

Within a week after airing, the #AmericaIsBeautiful commercial had been watched 10.2 million times on Coca Cola’s YouTube channel. Of the 40,000 votes for the video, 10,000 were negative.

The hashtag #SpeakAmerican had been used in 46,500 posts, #SpeakEnglish in 5,054, #BoycottCoke in 55,800, and #FuckCoke in 19,600. There had also been 437,500 posts specifically referencing the commercial across Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums, 48% of which were negative.

 
Distribution of posts about Coca Cola America The Beautiful commercial
 

 

For context, from February 2nd through February 10th there were 50 million conversations about the Super Bowl, and out of all these conversations just .42% negatively commented on the Coca Cola commercial. However, even this .42% doesn’t tell the whole story about xenophobic remarks.

These negative posts also include comments about not liking the commercial in general and parodies and/or rebuttals of those who made xenophobic statements.

“Of all 50 million Super Bowl conversations…just .42% negatively commented on the Cocal Cola commercial…”

Just how many were parodies or rebuttals? Focusing specifically on posts within the initial 24 hour time period that contained the trending hashtags #SpeakAmerican, #SpeakEnglish, #BoycottCoke, and #FuckCoke, we analyzed which actually contained racist or xenophobic sentiment.

The result? Only 5 out of every 20 were actually xenophobic in tone. The majority were rebuttals, parodies, or simple expressions of disbelief that these hashtags were trending.


So for every post like this:

 
Racist tweet about Coca Cola America The Beautiful commercial
 

There were three like this:

 
Boycott Coke because its terrible for you
Of course Americans are being dumb and racist
People being offended by this commercial is what is wrong with America
 

 

Ironically, the whole reason the hashtags were trending in the first place had little to do with a large volume of xenophobic posts and almost everything to do with people expressing their disgust with fellow Americans making xenophobic statements.

Unfortunately only @hmmoy understood this:

 
This tweet is contributing to the #fuckcoke trend
 

The story is simple, there wasn't a widespread xenophobic response to #AmericaIsBeautiful

By adjusting the numbers to reflect this, only .31% of all conversations regarding the Super Bowl were related to xenophobic reactions to Coca Cola’s commercial. The story here is simple, there really isn’t a news story at all. Coca Cola did not ignite widespread xenophobia.

Instead, the commercial incensed only a very small part of the population that should have been expected to react as they did. The reality is that the trending hashtags were taken out of context by the public and news media alike.

Unfortunately, when there are thousands of posts streaming by in a matter of seconds, it’s very easy to misconstrue the overall context of conversation as a whole. Fortunately for our clients, that’s why Infegy exists. Our primary passion is making it possible to truly understand the millions of conversations happening online every day.


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