The Super Bowl ads show what businesses can do to oppose the dark narrative coming from Washington Republicans. This is the world’s most watched sporting event and with over 100 million viewers it is the highest profile advertising platform in the world. Corporations invested millions of dollars ($5 million for a 30-second spot) for Super Bowl commercials. This year advertisers used the premium venue to air ads with a social and political purpose.
While some made commercials that were simply designed to sell product, others crafted profound messages that speak to the darkness of our times. This year five stand out for providing narratives that squarely refute the positions of both Trump and the GOP.
Without being overtly confrontational this year’s Super Bowl ads took a hopeful stand and challenged Trump’s bigotry, racism, and sexism. They celebrated diversity and the empowerment of women. They reminded those who seem to have forgotten about the origins of this great nation.
An Airbnb commercial struck at the heart of Trump’s xenophobia saying: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.” Airbnb has taken their opposition to the Muslim ban one step further by offering free housing to people affected. It has pledged to provide short-term housing to 100,000 refugees and displaced persons over the next five years.
An Audi ad refutes Trump’s objectification of women, a father is trying to figure out what he is going to tell his daughter about the inequality between the sexes. The Audi brand exemplifies progress, as they say in their introduction to their commercial, “At Audi Progress is in every decision we make, every technology we invent, every vehicle we build. It’s our past, our future, our reason to exist.” With “progress” as their core principle, they are organically opposed to Trump and the GOP. Resistance to Trump, albeit subtle, is the logical extension of their brand narrative. See the video below:
A Coke ad opened with an image of a man emerging from a forest on horseback and a vista that featured glacier-capped mountains and a pristine lake. The ad spoke to inclusiveness and featured the lyrics to America the Beautiful sung in English, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese, French and Hebrew. As the company explains in its introduction to the video, “We believe that America is beautiful and Coca-Cola is for everyone. Let’s celebrate the moments among all Americans that promote optimism, inclusion, and humanity — values that bring us closer together.” See the ad below.
A Budweiser ad spoke to the Moslem ban by highlighting the way immigration has enriched America citing the example of German co-founder Adolphus Busch’s journey to America.
An 84 Lumber commercial peeled the lid of Trump’s anti-Mexican vitriol by humanizing those seeking a new life in America. The ad depicted a Latina women and her daughter and their struggle to make their way across the border with the hopes of becoming American citizens. The ad was so popular that it crashed the company’s website when viewers logged in to see more.
All these advertisers took a risk, but it was a calculated risk. These ads could have done serious damage to the brands they were supposed to represent. However, it turns out these ads were well received in what can be described as an informal gauge of the national mood.
As reported by CBS News, Carl Marci, the chief neuroscientist at Nielsen Consumer Neurosciences said there were more ads with a social message at this year’s Super Bowl and they were better received. A survey from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern
University indicated that the ads with messages about diversity and
inclusiveness “paid off”.
The social flavor of the Super Bowl ads suggests that these corporations are not prepared to abandon their messaging to accommodate the demagogue in the White House and his lackeys in Congress. While the general public seemed to appreciate the ads, some hardcore Republican are advocating boycotts against Budweiser, Coke and 84 Lumber.
However, advertisers correctly surmise that Americans respond more favorably to messages of love and inclusiveness than they do to Trump’s message of fear and hate.