The ad shows an Arab walking through the desert with a camel.
“Why is it that Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers?” said Warren David, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC.
Coca-Cola released an online teaser of the commercial last week, showing the Arab walking through a desert. He soon sees cowboys, Las Vegas showgirls and a motley crew fashioned after the marauders of the apocalyptic “Mad Max” film race by him to reach a gigantic bottle of Coke.
In its ad, Coke asks viewers to vote online on which characters should win the race. The online site does not allow a vote for the Arab character.
“The Coke commercial for the Super Bowl is racist, portraying Arabs as backward and foolish Camel Jockeys, and they have no chance to win in the world,” Imam Ali Siddiqui, president of the Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies, said in an email.
On Thursday, Coca-Cola said it held what it described as a “productive conversation” with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, in which it apologized and explained that it did not mean the ad to be derogatory. It also said that it didn’t plan to change the commercial.