It's a storm in a coke can.

The 2014 Super Bowl achieved a record breaking 111.5m viewers, making it the most watched event in USA history, just scraping past the 111.3m who watched the Super Bowl two years ago.

Of course the Super Bowl isn’t just about the football, it’s about the adverts. In fact much of what we read relating to the big game in the UK is mostly about the marketing: ‘it costs $4m per advertising slot’, ‘Scarlett Johansson and Soda Stream banned’, 'David Beckham and H&M gamble with t-commerce’ and one story involving Coca-Cola that you can’t have failed to notice…

Coca-Cola’s unveiling of the controversial ‘Big Game’ commercial that carries the hashtag #AmericaIsBeautiful, in which the traditional American song ‘America the Beautiful’ is sung in nine different languages: English, Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin, Hindi, Hebrew, Keres, French and Arabic.

A predictable storm of protest followed from the Conservative quarters of the USA, with many right-wing pundits and politicians choosing to take the ad as a provocative blow to their ideals and all the things they perceive to be ‘American’.

Albeit one from the most famous, American corporation on the planet.

How has this controversy affected the brand? How does the advert itself stack up against the competition in terms of online sharing; a barometer of general opinion away from the political world?

Touchstorm has sent us over some data from its Super Bowl Video Scoreboard that tracks the #AmericaIsBeautiful controversy over YouTube, in terms of post-Super Bowl shares, comments and likes. But first, a little insight into the controversy...

The one minute-long ad begins as you would expect any typical Super Bowl ad to begin, cowboy on horseback riding along to the strains of a young female vocalist singing the famed ode to patriotism.

What follows is a somehow Conservative-enraging bastardisation of all that is ‘wrong with America’, and if you’re really quick, you may even spot a gay couple in there too.

Glenn Beck, the agitating Fox News commentator had this to say.

Why did you need that to divide us politically? Because that's all this ad is. It's in your face and, if you're offended by it, you're a racist. If you do like it, you're for progress.

If you were to believe the media coverage post Super Bowl, it’s easy for us to think that the following tweets are the normal response from the average American.

However I have now seen these same tweets repeated in at least five different news stories. Perhaps we need to look at actual data to ascertain the public approval of Coca-Cola and its ad.

Using a weighted average of four metrics: total views, subscriber conversion growth, likeability and velocity, Touchstorm has worked out that the Coca-Cola is the top most effective ad of the Super Bowl.

As of today (11 February), Coca-Cola’s ad has been number one for seven consecutive days. Here’s a timeline showing the ad’s growth since the Super Bowl.

With other brands releasing sneak previews of their Super Bowl ads before the day itself, Coca Cola chose not to, perhaps for fear of an early backlash. #AmericaIsBeautiful achieved more views on the day of its initial upload than any other brand that didn’t tease its ads first.

Of course, it’s easy to posit that the ad has managed this due to pure intrigue on behalf of a global audience wishing to know what the fuss is all about.

However in Touchstorm’s likeability ranking, based on positive engagement with the brand post Super Bowl, the #AmericaIsBeautiful campaign generated over 50,000 likes in five days, or one like per every 200 views, placing it in the top three campaigns in terms of positive engagement with users.

Coca-Cola has also seen strong YouTube subscriber growth as a result of the campaign peaking at over 1,100%.

Perhaps the advert isn’t as controversial on the ground as expected. Perhaps the message has been received more universally and positively than the extremes of Conservative politics would have us believe.

As for the controversy surrounding the inclusion of a gay couple, I’ll leave with this quote from Stephen Colbert in regard to 'America the Beautiful'.

If the woman who wrote this song, Katharine Lee Bates, saw this ad, she would be disgusted. And so would her life partner, Katharine Coman, with whom she lived for 25 years.

For more articles on advertising during the 2014 Super Bowl, here are the 10 most shared Super Bowl ads of 2014 and the 20 most shared Super Bowl ads of all time.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 11 February, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (6)

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Visakan Veerasamy, Marketing at ReferralCandy

It's interesting to observe the phenomenon. Coke has some of the best marketers money (and prestige!) can buy. Obviously they wouldn't do something controversial unless they were absolutely confident that it was on-brand. (I wrote a blogpost about that here:

But of course, news sites are going to do what's good for them, and that's playing up the controversy. It's good for Coke, it's good for the news sites. And I guess it's entertaining for consumers, too.

over 4 years ago


Scott Bradshaw

Oddly, I am a conservative American, and I love(d) the Coke spot from the moment I saw it. I do not want to get into all the reasons here, but I could. No soapbox for me today.

Having said that, I really appreciate your post. Coke knows what it is doing, and it has customers all over the world that it connected with through this ad. Not only did Coke connect to them, but Coke found a way for America to connect to them as well. From a Marketing perspective, brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed.

And kudos to Stephen Colbert, again, for putting things into perspective, as always.

over 4 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Pretty sure Glenn Beck left Fox News in 2011. He was speaking on his talk radio show for Premier Radio Networks:

over 4 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

@Pete - Yes, fully aware, was just giving a more globally recognised example of his infamy. I should have put ex-.

over 4 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

Article has been edited to remove the reference to America the Beautiful being the national anthem.

over 4 years ago



Coca Cola has done an amazing job at portraying all cultures and the beauty that should bring everyone together. It's about unity something we should be teaching our children.Its not only about Americans!

over 4 years ago

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