While Coca-Cola México says it regrets that a controversial Christmas ad was misinterpreted, an umbrella organization of groups concerned about obesity and overweight has responded with a video of its own.
The soft drink company’s media relations manager said in an interview this morning that it had not intended to offend or hurt anyone with the video released as part of its Christmas campaign, #AbreTuCorazón, or “Open your heart.”
Diego Bracamontes said the commercial was supposed to send a message encouraging unity among the communities of Mexico. But as far as the indigenous Mixe people of Oaxaca are concerned, it failed.
The video depicts a group of festive young people delivering a Christmas tree to the town of Totontepec, sharing the joy of Christmas — and bottles of Coca-Cola.
Yesterday, indigenous groups and health organizations called for sanctions against Coca-Cola for what they saw as an offensive and racist message that encourages stereotypes and the consumption of unhealthy beverages.
The ad appeared on Internet platforms on November 23 but was pulled soon after following a strong negative reaction. And it won’t reappear, said Bracamontes, who said the company has always respected the indigenous communities and their traditions.
Clips from the commercial have since been taken and woven into an “anticommercial” by the Alliance for Food Health, in which two Mixe students speak of the risks posed by sugared drinks and how diabetes has increased in indigenous communities.
In 2012, says one, 2.8 million indigenous people lacked access to health services. And about one-third of the population of Oaxaca doesn’t have access to piped water.
The video observes that 50 years ago cases of diabetes type 2 were rare in indigenous communities. But today it is starting to become an epidemic.
Coca-Cola’s original version concluded with the message, “We will stay united.”
The health alliance offered its own, in the voice of one of the indigenous young people: “To stay united, we must protect our dignity, our health and our culture.”