Coke Pulls Mexican Ad After Outcry

Spot Attacked for Fueling 'White Savior' Complex

By Published on .

Advertising Age Player

Coca-Cola has pulled an ad shown in Mexico that faced widespread criticism for being insulting to indigenous people.

As described by the Associated Press, the "'Open Your Heart' holiday campaign by Coca-Cola Mexico is coming under fire as 'faux philanthropy' and an insult to indigenous groups for its portrayal of a truckload of festive, fashion model-looking white people driving into the remote hills of Oaxaca hauling Coke and a Christmas tree as a service project." The agency is Ogilvy, Mexico.

Coca-Cola pulled the spot after a wave of criticism, which began on Nov. 26 when the "Mi blog es tu blog" site -- which covers Hispanic media, marketing and pop culture -- reported on it, saying "this is wrong in so many levels, that I'm just going to leave it here."

Coke on Wednesday provided the following statement to Ad Age:

"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."

The spot is still circulating on the internet. The website Latinorebels.com posted the ad on its YouTube page (shown above), calling it a "White Savior" ad.

As the Guardian reported, one of the groups criticizing the ad is the Alliance for Food Health, which is a coalition of consumer rights and health groups. The group says the ad is "an attack on the dignity of indigenous people and contributes to their deteriorating health," according to the Guardian.