Running a 30-second advert during the 2014 Super Bowl cost brands $4 million dollars (appx. £2.45 million) per slot, and every second had an impact on the estimated 111.5 million viewers throughout North America. Coca-Cola’s ‘America Is Beautiful’ clip started plenty of conversations on social media during the ad break for its clever use of language.
The song ‘America the Beautiful’ was playing in the background as the ad began. Those who were listening carefully will have noticed something unusual as they watched – suddenly, the song was being performed in a language that wasn’t English. A number of different languages were interspersed with the more recognisable lyrics, including Tagalog, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi and Keres, which is a sub-dialect spoken in New Mexico.
Behind-the-scenes clips from the making of the commercial shed more light on the language choices. Keres is not a written language, which made translating the song from English that bit more challenging, and Tagalog is a ‘conceptual’ vocabulary with no word-to-word equivalents.
Coca-Cola’s intention here was to embrace diversity and remind everyone that life is beautiful, regardless of where you live or the language you speak. The ad has unfortunately sparked rows over the country’s immigration policies and perceived racism, with arguments as to whether it’s genuinely inclusive or divisive.
We do the majority of our copywriting in English, as well as translation and transcreation to and from our mother tongue. Words of any language fascinate us and we found this ad genuinely interesting. From the clips showing the recordings of each song and the singers, it’s clear that a lot of time went into accurately translating the lines and making sure that the syllable count matched up.