Coke Leads the Corporate Embrace of Diversity

Corporations can read the writing on the wall.

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Coca-Cola knows millennials don't have a problem with diversity.

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Is Coke the real thing? You betcha!

A stirring rendition of "America the Beautiful" illustrated by beautifully shot seascapes and mountain vistas. If that’s not enough for you, there’s a couple skating with their daughter and many attractive young people. What’s all the fuss about the Coke Super Bowl ad anyway? Well, people sing the song in six different languages, the couple with the kid is gay and three of the young people wear Muslim head coverings. Holy Hanna!

Social conservatives have complained bitterly about the ad because to them it is an avatar of the U.S. going to hell in a handbasket. I see an ad that celebrates the diverse group of people who come together to make America the great country it is. But, Glenn Beck sees ads that “divide people.” I’m not kidding, he really thinks that way.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

You can’t fight city hall or the Coca-Cola company. The Coke commercial is evidence that cultural diversity has gone mainstream and there’s little anybody can do to stop it. Social conservatives can fight the trend towards diversity and slow it down but they can’t stop it. If Coke demonstrates support for diversity, it’s a matter of time until the rest of corporate America and its customers follow suit.

Coke’s biggest market is the millennial generation. Young people accept diversity as a given. Four out of 10 millennials, Americans born since 1982, are non-white.

Because of their marketing targets, corporate giants don’t fear backlash from the senior citizens who are the members of the group most resistant to social change. But politicians market big time towards seniors who are regular voters. That’s why corporate America is moving faster than politicians to catch up with the new America. But the millennial population is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the population and the politicians who will survive and thrive are the candidates who change with the times. It’s just a matter of time before millienials have the same cultural and political impact on society that the baby boomers had.

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

NBC’s decision to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" shows how much importance corporate America places on reaching a young hip audience. Even though Leno hosted the top rated late night show, the network felt it needed to make the change to appeal to young viewers. Why because that’s the audience that corporate sponsors want to reach.

Cultural scolds like Beck and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council blame Hollywood for what they see as a breakdown of American society. But it’s corporate America which is singing the loudest tune for social diversity.

The fierce adverse reaction to the Coke ad is a clear indication that cultural conservatives won’t give up without a fight.  Things won’t get progressively better. Racism will get even worse as the growing non-white population becomes larger and becomes more of a threat to cultural conservatives. Some day, though, we’ll get to a better place.