Arab-American leaders have slammed Coke's new Super Bowl ad and a promotion based on it, saying the campaign demeans and stereotypes Arabs.
The ad shows a thirsty Arab man leading a camel through the desert and pining after a mirage of an enormous bottle of Coca-Cola. A clutch of cowboys, a bus full of Las Vegas showgirls and a "Mad Max"-style bike gang zooms past him to snatch the Coke.
In an associated online promotion, Coke lets viewers vote on who should win the race — but doesn't allow a vote for the Arab.
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"The Coke commercial for the Super Ball is racist, portraying Arabs as backward and foolish Camel Jockeys, and they have no chance to win in the world," Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies' president Imam Ali Siddiqui told Reuters in an email.
"By not including the Arab in the race, it is clear that the Arab is held to a different standard when compared to the other characters in the commercial," Abed Ayoub, the director of legal and policy affairs for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said.
"Coke should understand and respect their consumers and have a better understanding of the market they are sharing," he added.
The president of the ADC, Warren David, also bemoaned the ad, asking why Arabs tended to be stereotyped as "sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers."
A Coke spokeswoman told Reuters the ad was intended to invoke Hollywood tropes, while a spokesperson for CBS, which is airing the Super Bowl, declined to comment to Reuters.