To The Chagrin Of Some, Many Thrilled By All-Inclusive Message

By Matt Classen

Super Bowl commercials are always a blast. This year’s Super Bowl 51‘s commercials played a central role in the ‘why-you-should-tune-in’ factor. We were of course entertained with the slapstick whimsy from many companies looking to keep things safe through one-dimensional messaging in the quest for some serious ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on social media. There were others, though, that took a much more concerted effort to tap into the Zeitgeist of the day. Yes, many Super Bowl commercials made clear political statements, and they were powerful examples of marketing and branding done right.

If you’ve been paying attention, the political climate both in the U.S. and around the world is experiencing great instability. What it definitely feels like is that we, as a planetary people, are being forced to decide, right here, and right now, just how we want to evolve as a species. Within that complexity is the element of how we get along as peoples and cultures in a global society. Do we want to resort to tribalism, fear and isolation to create a false sense of security that everything will be as it was, or how it has been? Or do we take the brave step into a new world where there is room and deep respect for all peoples, and our human rights to pursue peace, the freedom of self-expression and happiness overall?

Taking a stand, or standing for something, especially if it is for the values that all freedom loving peoples hold dear, and to represent that within the culture and messaging of your organization is amazingly powerful. It creates deep impact within the minds of employees, customers and stakeholders, which is exactly the point of branding and marketing in the first place. Many of the companies placing advertisements in yesterday’s Super Bowl definitely took a very clear stand for a multicultural, accepting and loving global society. These adverts were powerful, and were by no means subtle in their stand, and were a clear rebuke of the tendencies currently flowing in the opposite direction (tribalism/fear/isolation). We had a few favorites that we’d like to highlight.

Super Bowl Commercials #1: Lumber 84

Lumber 84 put together a teaser segment for its slot in the Super Bowl that showed a Mexican mom and her daughter on the journey northward to cross into the U.S. in search of a better life. The teaser slot was clearly going to be pro immigration, but you had to go to YouTube and type in key words to watch the conclusion to the 5+ minute advert. The commercial ends with the mother and daughter arriving at the wonderful wall, and the finding a doorway through. The commercial ends with the words “The will to succeed is always welcome here”. Marketing and branding with a powerful message indeed. Total YouTube views as of 1:20 p.m. PST:4,486,821 

Super Bowl Commercials #2:

Not to be outdone, Budweiser took a powerful pro-immigrant approach to its branding and marketing in a fantastic advert about a German immigrant to the U.S. His goal? Create a beer based on his German heritage that would later be called Budweiser. Budweiser’s advert is not as edgy as Lumber 84’s, simply because the subject of the commercial was a white skinned immigrant. Still, the pro-immigration-overtones-as-an-integral-part-of-American-history theme clear as day. Total YouTube views as of 1:20 p.m. PST: 22,685,384

Super Bowl Commercials #3:

Coca Cola made no effort to hide that it stands for multiculturalism with America the Beautiful being sung in a variety of languages and peoples. How could it not? It’s a global company with a principal product that is consumed by people the world over – even by people who might be frustrated with American politics. It is the one global product that in omnipresent on planet earth, and what its messaging is must reflect that. This commercial hit the mark with its marketing and branding. Total YouTube views as of 1:25 p.m. PST: 1,395,398

Super Bowl Commercials #4:

AirBNB took a similar stand as Coca Cola with its marketing and branding, but with different imagery and tailored to its business model. It’s “We All Belong” messaging, as well as the hashtag #weaccept is a clear indication that a global company, that facilitates overnight stays by strangers in the actual homes of other strangers necessitates acceptance. The vibrant imagery used is powerful, and takes a clear stand for a new global peoples. Total YouTube views as of 1:27 p.m. PST: 1,983,981 

Super Bowl Commercials #5: Audi

Finally, Audi, with its marketing and branding, takes a stand for the power of women with a fun and inspiring advert where a girl and her race buggy endure the difficulty of making room for herself in a male dominated profession. The commercial ends with the very clear opinion “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work” and “Progress is for everyone”. Total YouTube views as of 1:30 p.m. PST: 8.633.402

For the above mentioned companies that had the temerity to take such a stand, for a global event and in front of viewers who have are fully aware of the political climate shows real courage. It also is incredibly impactful branding and marketing. If this is a wave you can ride, and it represents the values of your company, then why not ride that wave? Why not take a stand for something powerful, and that has real impact, than keeping things safe and one-dimensional in a sea of boring? How can your organization be a part of the movement?