It has been enlightening to follow along with the anti-sugar struggles in Great Britain. Today, Childhood Obesity News reluctantly tears its eyes away from that embattled land to focus on Mexico. Like everywhere else, the atmosphere is saturated with advertising, and the usual nonsense that corporations say to the press, to be passed on for mass consumption.
There was trouble over an ad, a couple years back. For New York Daily News, Keri Blakinger described the action as “a gaggle of white hipsters bringing Coke to an indigenous village in Mexico.”
This is not the raucous border town, or manicured resort, or smog-choked metropolis that North Americans might envision. It is the Mexico of small settlements in difficult terrain, containing almost 13 million people who speak 62 different languages. Also, 80% of them are below the official poverty line.
The video clip opens with pastoral scenes and an announcement that most of Mexico’s indigenous people feel left out of their society because they don’t speak Spanish. Cut to the hipsters’ home ground, a workshop where there seems to be an inappropriate amount of horseplay among the power tools. The youngsters make wooden parts whose purpose is unknown.
Their arrival in the Oaxacan village seems to aim for the Woodstock or “We Are the World” vibe. They pass out icy bottles of Coke to everyone, and construct a giant fake Christmas tree in the town square. Logistically, things don’t add up. Once built, the monumental tree seems to contain much more material than the amount they could have possibly brought along in a small caravan of pickup trucks.
Then, the big structure is shown covered with lights made from Coke bottle lids. Are we to believe that all the bottle caps are from Cokes consumed right there on the scene? Because it would have been a boxcar full of cartons and cartons of soda. Or did the merry crew warn the inhabitants ahead to time to save all their bottle caps?
How were all the top layers of the fake tree decorated? Did the villagers build a massive scaffold, or did there just happen to be a truck with a “cherry picker” attachment? How was there enough space in a car for the giant reel of wire they must have brought along? And where does all the electricity come from?
The Alliance for Food Health brought to the government the first complaint, but it wasn’t for a lack of verisimilitude. The ad has been called racist, discriminatory, condescending, offensive in tone, an attempt to force consumer culture down the throats of indigenous people, and an example of “hipster colonialism.”
Its use of the tagline #AbreTuCorazon, or “Open Your Heart,” rubbed people the wrong way for some reason, and so did the information that four-fifths of non-Spanish speakers feel excluded, which gave no source reference. Apparently, the Cokesters had really perceived themselves as sociologically responsible and culturally sensitive, and others who saw no harm in the ad came to their defense, but the turkey didn’t fly. The corporation apologized and the ad was discontinued.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!