#Political: Super Bowl 2017 Ads Take Stands

February 8, 2017

What a wonderful time to be an activist slash ad person

Super Bowl Sunday is the Oscars Night of advertising. Apart from buzzworthy halftime performances and oh, the actual game itself, this momentous event is a festival of ad genius and market persuasion. It’s the one night consumers willingly have themselves be saturated and bought by brands. Commercials are given special attention as legitimate television content would get at any day, for once not muted and beaten up by the remote control. With almost a guaranteed population of viewers across demographics all over the world who declare, “We came here for the advertising”, perhaps it’s safe to say it’s when agencies give their all, too.

And with the looming threat of a Western wall wanting to divide countries by land, by mindset, and by heart, what better outlet do advertisers have other than taking it into this year’s Super Bowl to voice out their attempts to advocate acceptance and altogether bring back our faith in humanity?

Whether or not it’s a question of big companies monetising on the idea of a diverse society, they’ve at least definitely served fresh dishes compared to their usual which banks on sex. Inspired by the current US political climate, here is the roster of Super Bowl 2017 ads that brought the dialogue on societal issues to brands.

Google

Google made a seamless integration of a key message into their product ‘Google Home’ by reinventing what ‘home’ means in their 60-seconder. In the ad, a home is depicted as inclusive, warm, and is assisted by Google. Embroidered with rainbow flags, an imagery that brought the LGBTQA community come a-leaping, the Mezuzah cameo, and a multiethnic cast for the home setting, there is no questioning the stand Google makes here: the world must be as colourful as their logo.

Budweiser

Budweiser is a reliable source of commercials that scream American patriotism. Released days before Super Bowl Sunday, their minute-long piece entitled “Born the Hard Way” is a dramatic storytelling recounting the days of Adolphus Busch, a German national who step foot in US soil in 1857, fought his way through, and eventually set up Anheuser-Busch, the brewing company behind Budweiser.

It’s a rather inspirational plot we know too well — an immigrant faces discrimination, yet against all odds said immigrant succeeds in the foreign land he’s in. Ultimately, the brand fills in the shoes of a typical immigrant and personalises it by sharing their own fair share of struggle.

But until actual change is enacted, it’ll stay an inspiration, nothing else. Such a harrowing thought it is to realise that a century and a half later, the situation remains the same.

84 Lumber

For a first-timer in the Super Bowl scene, lumber retailer 84 Lumber generated two things: (1) curiosity and (2) web visits. The ad branded by Fox as ‘overly political’ for its stand on illegal immigration tells the story of a Mexican mother and daughter whose journey had been abruptly cut by a wall erected at the border crossing to United States. In the end, a symbolic door is revealed to be a part of the wall, enabling the pair to enter the land. To close, the brand declares that “The will to succeed is always welcome here”.

84 Lumber is not in the business of shying away Trump’s idea of a wall — in fact, they appropriated it. Likening immigrants to the company’s ideal employees, this ad is part of an elaborate recruiting campaign to meet the demand of a bustling building materials industry. Wall Street Journal writes that the ad “is intended to get job seekers thinking about 84 Lumber as a place to develop a career path.”

Offering a different take on the issue, this ad is a bold attempt to humanise the wall and put at least a little heart in it.

Michelin

Michelin’s 30-seconder prioritises the message over the product. To put blatantly, there is hardly a middle ground between tires and diversity. However the ad masterfully integrates wheels into interweaved stories of love across races. Their light storytelling is less of a protest and more of a subtle showcase of ‘representation done right’ on TV. Had they opted to cast purely white people on screen, they wouldn’t even make it on this list.

Airbnb

Known as an advocate of refugee welfare, Airbnb made it clear in their Super Bowl ad that there mustn’t be room for hate. Featuring a montage of multiethnic faces accompanied by equally-resonant copy — “No matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept” — the online international marketplace for accommodations sure did feel very accommodating. As if carrying the baton of #acceptance, the company’s half-minute spot encapsulates what they do for a living and what they do to impact the living.

Ah, the joy of seeing socially relevant Super Bowl ads on screen.



Written by:
Kriselle Marian Gueco
Copywriter
Montgomery Fitch + Team

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