It's perhaps even ridiculous of me to put "harmless" in the title of this post, because I feel like with the video in question, that goes without saying. It goes to show when you do something slightly different from the status quo, everyone with a keyboard who knows their anonymous comments most likely won't be traced back to them has to have an opinion about something accepted by most people. And not just accepted, but so common as to not even give it a second thought. Cheerios had the "audacity" to run an ad showing an interracial couple. It doesn't preach. It sells a product like any other ad.
Cheerios' "Controversial" Ad
The comments got so stupid and pointless, they had to turn comments off. Here's the "highly controversial" Cheerios ad, released May 28 and called "Just Checking:"
Now, I'm not dumb enough to believe that Cheerios had no idea what they were doing here. They did this on purpose, for sure, and they knew there would be some backlash and people like me writing about it. Hey, glad to contribute. But the presentation is so mundane. It doesn't "force" anything on anyone. This is a typical family.
Of course, racists and people who like to pretend to be racist (of which I truly believe that on YouTube, there are more of these than actual racists) had to chirp up and say something ugly. It's unfortunate that there isn't some sort of moderation on these comments, because there are probably many people who will react positively to the ad (it in fact has a ratio of 15:1 likes-to-dislikes) and would like to say something actually worthwhile. But they can't because the discussion went off the rails and the comments were turned off.
If there was one thing YouTube ever needed, it's a customizable moderation system that blocks certain kinds of comments and the "trouble users" from re-visiting the video at all. And I'm not a genius on these matters, so I don't have any idea how that would work. I do know that I've heard of such things where horrible comments have been automatically changed into something positive and/or weak or just eliminated. Of course, there would be positive comments that get accidentally modified, so no one system is perfect. It sheds light on some brands' need to moderate their own comments, flagging many of the offensive ones, especially if you know the ad you're posting will likely get such comments.
You don't want the discussion about your brand to be some racial debate. But you also don't want to be scared to create content because people are going to fire off something pointless and dumb.