When you’re a large corporate brand accused of dubious business practices in developing countries, you have to be extra careful how your marketing handles other cultures.
Which is kind of the exact opposite of what Coca-Cola did with this ill-advised commercial called “Open Your Heart,” featuring a bunch of white hipster kids who bring joy to an Indigenous Mexican village by building a giant Christmas tree and handing out Cokes. The video has since been pulled down, but we have the highlights here.
(What, they couldn’t bring books or healthy food or other useful things? Maybe check with the local school to see if they could use some help? Nope, just twee Christmas decorations and sugary beverages.)
Coke has gotten slammed on social media for portraying indigenous Mexicans as subservient, and for perpetuating “white savior” imagery. But there are also plenty of people who think calling the ad racist is taking it too far.
A consumer rights group called the Alliance for Food Health wanted the ad to be banned, and Coca-Cola eventually pulled it down, issuing this apology to Eater.com:
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. 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.