“Coca-Cola in Totontepec”

Background of Coca Cola Advertisements

Coca-Cola Product branding have been closely linked to the theoretical cultural understandings such as Ricca and Robins’ meta-luxury, Hofstede’s five dimensions of national culture, Kapferer’s brand identity prism, and de Mooij’s marketing and cross-cultural studies. These frameworks have been credited with shaping brand positions and presentation in various cultures. Majorly, organisations have positioned and presented their advertisements and social product placement strategies along the these cultural understandings to create product adaptiveness. While some products gain popularity in any cultural dimension, others are closely linked to particular cultures. Coca-Cola brand has fought heavily to fit in all cultural dimension despite its birth in high Western cultural dimension.

Analysis of Coca-Cola advertisement shows its struggle to become all cultural dimensional brand. People easily identify Coca-Cola drink, owing to its wide retailing and market penetration. For decades, the product has been linked to high prestige and individualistic luxury is a high cultural dimension, mostly linked to the upper and middle class population.

In the advertisement and social media, Coca-Cola has been planted alongside celebrities with high-end fashion touch, a means of illustrating the high class. It has been also depicted in local and in international adverts with the minority groups, people of all age groups, and low class population. Despite its level in the society, the brand has not neglected the low class. This depicts the collectivism culture in Hoftede’s cultural dimension, an Eastern culture. Coca-Cola has consistently replaced the “I” conscious individualistic Westerner, with the “We” conscious Eastern collectivism culture. The cultural branding has enable the product once perceived individualist brand, gain popularity in every part of the continent Zhang, 2010).

The television advertisements meet diverse cross-cultural communication needs. Most Coca Cola advertisement meets both verbal and none verbal cues. The strategy is effective for high context culture where nonverbal cues play a significant part in communication (De Mooij & Hofstede, 2010). In high context cultures, such as in the United States, communication is direct and explicit (De Mooij, 2005). Coca Cola strategies are conscious of communication barrier between diverse groups. However, the brand highly appeals to the generation Y that is influenced by the high Western cultures, especially the White   majority. This became evident in its “Coca-Cola in Totontepec”

“Coca-Cola in Totontepec”

 “Coca-Cola in Totontepec” has come under fire by portraying the White supremacy power. Coca Cola aimed to send a message to the White s of the need for civilization among the Indigenous group. Part of the advertisement says, “81.6 percent of Mexican Indigenous have felt rejected for speaking another language,” with Indigenous people capturing the entire screen.  The advertisement shows the less fortunate being saved by White Mexican hipsters with special message for the people. The scene followed by White children storming Mixe community in a crusade manner. They distribute Coca-Cola and create a huge Christmas tree.

Like all the White supremacy plots, the advertisement brings emotional experience of colored victimhood and implores the White descendants to bring civilization to the Indigenous people. Coca Cola, in this respect, has been identified as a brand of White people. Egocentrically, the advertisement sends the message that only White people possess the capacity to alleviate the status of the Indigenous people. The advertisement brings back the colonial supremacy that the masters exemplified against their colored subjects.

The advertisement perceives Brown people as passive group that rely on the White s for help. They are never active and do not have the powers to out rightly reject the White s rescues. The advertisement of White people bringing help to the Mexi people, on the other hand shows cultural and corporate destruction and denomination. Coca-Cola brings the idea of transnational among the Indigenous people, a corporate transgression of territories of Oaxaca.

Coca-Cola advertisement has also attracted the attention of the consumer group. he “Open Your Heart” Christmas campaign have been criticized by the Alliance for Food Health not only for insulting the community but also promoting poor product among the Indigenous people who are already burdened by lifestyle conditions. The community have shown high obesity epidemic rate, promoted by consumption of sugary drinks. As a result, the Coca-Cola promotion was untimely and unhealthy to the population. However, the company responded with apologies saying that it only intended to unite and bring happiness to people of diverse communities.

Historical Context

Various sources have shown how companies have moved in Oaxaca, exploiting economic and cultural resources. Coca-Cola infiltration into Oaxaca is traced to 2000s when in close collaboration with the government; the company stared to privatize water catchments, such as aquifers and rivers. Unethical concerns, such as poor disposal of wastes by the company have been witnessed in the community. Following the privatizations, over 15 million Indigenous people recently have no water sources. As a result, Mexico’s dependency on bottled water is significantly higher than most nations. Mexico is the second world consumer of bottled water. Surprisingly, Coca-Cola is among the top marketers of bottled water in the region.

Attempts by the Indigenous communities to fight corporate influence have been criminalized. Indigenous voices who have dissatisfaction to corporate interference with their resources have been considered to oppose developments and harmful to the community. The same idea is replicate in Coca-Cola advertisement. Coca-Cola places itself as the progress that the Indigenous communities have been slow to embrace. As a charity, the company decided to hand the resistant people progress through the benevolent White people. Any form of resistance to such charity would be treated as hindrance to development and backwardness.

Theoretical Analysis

According to Fanon, the colonial world is cut into two unique zones: the colonized or native zone, or that of the colonizers. Instruments of power have been utilized to create the divide. The Manichean type of the colonial domain divides it into district and smaller binaries of colonizer/colonized, white/black, light/dark, and dominator/dominated. Coca-Cola identified the racial segment, and believed its dominator/dominated approach will appeal to the society (Fanon, n.d.).

In explaining, the “Coca-Cola in Totontepec” we draws Fanon’s capitalist commodity fetishism and the Marxist link between selfhood and humanity in exemplifying colonialism's double deception of racial fetishism. Coca Cola adopts the integrative capitalist exchange of its brand and at the same time, develops social relations that links value to the Whites. The advertiser understands that capitalist can build relationship by fetishism of the commodity; such relationship can be derived by the colonial interaction based on color with the origin of the fetishism of race (Fanon, n.d.).  Fetishism race are inherently valuable as it is developed from falsehood constructs of European white colonizers.

The White racial fetishism applied in the “Coca-Cola in Totontepec” comes from the commodity fetishism adopted from the capitalist metropolis owing to the colonizers' estrangement and creation of products of their own labor. The whites in the campaign show their alienation to the capitalist world and hide their identity through benevolent civilization aids. The steps become the ladder to economic oppression over the Indigenous people.

While Coca Cola apparently hoped to illustrate its deep penetration into the Indigenous and give them a chance to be heard, it reiterated what Fanon terms white supremacy. The advertisement becomes a perfect construct of the colonizer and the colonized world. The company, that has portrayed itself a White man’s labor and product, calls upon the European Whites to help in bring civilization. Coca-Cola expects a master slave interaction in its interaction with the people of Oaxaca. It is approach is to minimize ‘violence,’ which Fanon characterizes as the interaction norm between the two parties.

Coca-Cola advertisement resonates with Foucault's technology of power and resistance. Coca-Cola utilizes its product to command loyalty from the Indigenous people. The company has the power to manipulate the Mexi’s behavior.  They are not expected to counteract the company’s actions owing to what is considered backwardness. Technology power is an important capitalist tool. It was effectively utilized in the panoptic architecture, and prison. Foucault says such technology leaves no room for the victims to develop resistance. Coca-Cola entry in Oaxaca attracted no resistance from the Indigenous people, because the company presented itself as a tool of progressive, backed by the government. Resistance would have been treated with opposition to development. Partly, resistance is minimal owing to the influence value whiteness as postulated by Fanon.

Bauman present a unique understanding of the Coca-Cola case. The globalization theory outlines the demarcation of the Indigenous people, people thrown far from civilization, and who gets help from the Whites (Bauman, 2000). The Mexi are subjected to the laws of foreign companies since they have influence over the local authorities, in this case the Mexican government. There is a strong evident that the Indigenous people are facing the challenge of international law, the law of the civilized rather the Mexican law, which has a place for the natives.  Bauman’s reflection of mobility comes into context in the nature “Coca-Cola in Totontepec” hipsters enter the untraveled land. Globalization creates social dynamics by shortening communication distances through technology. Coca Cola’s advertisement was a successful form of globalization and its outcomes.

In conclusion, Coca-Cola was under fire for the “Coca-Cola in Totontepec.” The advertisement became unpopular among consumer groups, who are concerned with health issues and rights activists, who believed the promotion was an insult to the indigenous group. While Coca-Cola’s advertisements have been geared to diverse groups, its “Coca-Cola in Totontepec” became a matter of social issues. Different theories have been adopted to analyze the advertisement. The theorists include Fanon, Foucault, and Bauman, each bringing a unique understanding of “Coca-Cola in Totontepec.” However, there is a common understanding that Coca-Cola portrayed white supremacy, capitalist power, and business globalization in its advertisement.


Bauman, Z. (2000). Globalization: The Human Consequences, Polity Press. Oxford, England: Blackwell  Publishers,

De Mooij, M. (2005). Global marketing and advertising – Understanding cultural paradoxes (pp. 1-5, 20-30, 55-70, 94-101, 255-275). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications

De Mooij, M. & Hofstede, G. (2010). The Hofstede model – Applications to global branding and advertising strategy and research. International Journal of Advertising, 29(1), pp. 85-110

Fanon, F. (n.d.). Black skin, white masks.

Kapferer, J. & Bastien, V. (2009). The specificity of luxury management - Turning marketing upside down. Journal of Brand Management, 16(5/6), pp. 311-322

Zhang, J. (2010). The persuasiveness of individualistic and collectivistic advertising appeals among Chinese Generation-X consumers. Journal of Advertising