• Screenshot from the offensive video advertisement (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Coca-Cola Mexico has apologised for a ‘racist’ video advertisement deemed offensive to the country’s Indigenous population, following social media and consumer outrage.
By
NITV, AP

3 Dec 2015 - 4:48 PM  UPDATED 8 Dec 2015 - 4:30 PM

The Coke Christmas advert, which was taken off YouTube this week, showed the sugary drink being handed out to people from the Mixe community in Mexico by light-skinned actors.

The video, part of the company’s “Open Your Heart” holiday campaign, was considered racist by many advocacy groups and media across the world.

It came under fire for being "faux philanthropy", showing a truckload of festive, fashion model-looking white people driving into the remote hills of Oaxaca.

A long-haired blond woman and a few young men then build a red tree with Coca-Cola lights for the people of the Mixe community.

The tree lights up with the words "We will stay united" in the Mixe language.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson has told media it did not mean to insult Indigenous Mexicans.

The tree lights up with the words "We will stay united" in the Mixe language.

The YouTube commercial and hashtag #AbreTuCorazon (#OpenYourHeart in Spanish) drew harsh criticism.

"Coca-Cola is working on some genius colonial branding in Mexico with its out-of-touch, racist #AbreTuCorazon campaign," one critic says. Another asks: "Why don't you have the people of Oaxaca taking their culture to other countries?"

Coca-Cola responded: "We appreciated you sharing your concerns. We will be sure to pass along your comments."

The YouTube video had been online in Mexico for about a week before it was deleted.

The Alliance for Food Health, a coalition of consumer rights and health groups, wanted the Mexican government to block the ad, saying it is an attack on the dignity of Indigenous people. It also said the ad contributes to the deteriorating health of Mexico's indigenous communities. Mexico is a major consumer of soda and other sugared drinks and has skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes.

"It's outrageous for the indigenous," said Diana Turner, a public relations person for Consumer Power, one of the groups in the alliance.

In the commercial, the company says the campaign is meant to "break down prejudice and share."

"This Christmas a group of young people decided to give something very special to the indigenous community of Totontepec (Villa) de Morelos in Oaxaca. You, too, open your heart," Coca-Cola says in the ad.

It said 81.6 per cent of Mexico's indigenous people feel rejected for speaking a language other than Spanish, though it doesn't cite the source.