When a 30 second television ad costs millions of dollars, companies must be mindful of their audiences and be strategic in their delivery in order to get the most for their money. The recent trend has been to take a stance on a debate topic or current event to get America talking. Here, Brett, Katie, and Terra weigh in on how some companies took advantage of their time during the 2017 Super Bowl:
Terra: This ad felt much slower than most of the commercials as it showed one family’s journey to freedom in America. Without using many words, it told a powerful story. By ending their television spot with an invitation to visit the 84 Lumber website to see how the video ends, they are generating web traffic. This commercial caused quite a buzz and led to many people sharing the video in its entirety on social media.
Brett: I think the ad also is interesting as one thinks about their target audience and their end users. The ad speaks to (or for?) the latter, but ends the ad with a line from the former. Mexican immigrants make up a significant portion of the construction industry workforce, as has been reported in articles like this from the NYT. 84 Lumber is planting their flag on the issue and used a big stage to do it.
Katie: From a messaging standpoint, this one leaves me feeling a little yucky. It’s a message about inclusion, but the 84 Lumber folks are also very careful that they are advocating that these immigrants enter the country legally, in “the right way.” The online response to the ad was immediate and plentiful, and 84 Lumber countered negative responses with the defense that they aren’t advocating illegal immigration, only that they want to offer a place to those with grit and determination. It feels a little tone deaf and exploitive, but I think I’m in the minority here. It certainly did get folks talking about a lumber company; no easy task.
Terra: Like 84 Lumber, Budweiser took a stance on the hot topic of immigration. This was the most viewed Super Bowl ad on YouTube following its premiere. It shows what many consider to be an All-American brand with a mixed background. Taking a stance on a highly debated issue tends to isolate audiences, but with almost twice as many views as the second most popular ad, it paid off for Budweiser.
Brett: AB/InBev and the Budweiser brand have clung and doubled-down on the beer being the “American beer” (I mean, they renamed the beer “America” this past summer). One would think that the consumer may tend to lean to the anti-immigration side of the debate, making Budweiser’s stance in the ad quite a statement.
Katie: A lot of the anti-immigration folks take the stance that their ancestors, again, did it the “right way” and this ad does nothing to problematize that simplistic narrative. There does seem to be a tiny bit of a boycott brewing (puns!) but I think the positive reaction will be more dramatic: folks who would never consider drinking Bud might have a more friendly attitude toward the brand.
Coca-Cola aired an ad during the 2014 Super Bowl showing people of different nationalities singing “America The Beautiful” in their native language. The company got a lot of back lash with customers even calling for a boycott.
Terra: Coca Cola clearly saw another opportunity with current events to replay this ad. Unlike regular commercials, Super Bowl commercials tend to only air once, so it was interesting that Coca-Cola decided to repeat an ad three years later. The repeat created some extra conversation completely separate from the actual context of the ad, which may have been beneficial to the company.
Katie: Nothing about this strikes me as political or going against the Coca-Cola brand. Their reach is international, obviously. This year it feels political because of the immigration ban, which is interesting. It’s a reminder that messages are contextual.
The luxury car company decided to avoid the popular theme of immigration and ethnic diversity to advocate for equal pay for equal work. It shows a dad pondering how he will have tough talks with his daughter about adversity. As the young girl dominates the primarily male race she is competing in, the proud father thinks maybe he “won’t have to”.
Terra: I think it was great that Audi brought a male voice into the conversation of equality for women. Traditionally, it is women that speak out about not being paid as much as men who do the same job. This ad was a victory for advocates of equality for women.
Katie: I loved this one. It took a stance, not a quasi-stance (although it makes me wonder how many women work at Audi and how much they earn!) It highlighted a corporate value, not a product, but it was open about that. In an age of consumer-driven activism, this feels successful.
Brett: How many luxury cars (or luxury car brands) treat women as their core audience? It seems most are marketed to men. Through discussing the issue of pay equality, does this align Audi with marketing equality too, with Audi seeing both women and men equally likely to be customers? It would be interesting and refreshing to see how this would look carried out.
Readers: do you have any other thoughts on these ads, or ones we overlooked? Did we miss anything else with the ones mentioned? Let us know in the comments!