Coca-Cola knew exactly what it was doing with this commercial. It knew it would inflame white conservatives, but, more importantly, it knew the commercial would align Coke with Latinos and other quickly-growing groups in the United States. So Coke expands its market share and promotes its product while endorsing a vision of a diverse, multi-cultural America. What’s the harm?
Unfortunately, the harm lands squarely on the bodies of kids and families with few resources. Educated, affluent white Americans are drinking less soda than they were a few years ago, and soft drink makers now rely largely on “heavy users” – those who drink several sodas every day – to keep their businesses booming. Heavy users tend to be in lower-income areas – places New Orleans, Louisiana and Rome, Georgia. Coke is trying to expand that model. Long dominant in Latin America – that region is Coke’s second-largest market – the company has been trying to capture the Latino market in the United States through target marketing.
That is, of course, how businesses operate. But Coca-Cola’s model depends on consumers who drink significantly more soda than average – a habit that comes with a series of serious health consequences – and on targeting children, who will (ideally) be life-long Coke drinkers.