by Wegs, Chief Idea Officer
You may have heard that there was a little sporting event held last Sunday.
Something called the Super Bowl.
If you’re a Patriots fan, you witnessed the greatest comeback ever.
If you’re a Falcons fan, you suffered the worst implosion possible.
Both fans watched the exact same game, yet came to entirely different conclusions.
This dichotomy held true even during the game’s halftime show featuring Lady Gaga.
In contrast to the pre-game controversy she generated, Conservatives lauded Gaga for not turning the much-hyped show into a public protest. Yet Liberals saw something entirely different. They saw subdued, yet strong signals from her Ladyship. They saw her sing “This Land is Your Land”, a protest classic written by Woody Guthrie. According to The Telegraph, the song was written by the self-proclaimed Communist while renting from President Trump’s father. And they saw her sing her LGBT anthem, Born This Way. All in sparkling costumes that may have blinded some to the subversive nature of Lady Gaga’s halftime show.
And Now a Word from Our Sponsors
As for the Super Bowl commercials, there was a diversity of opinion on them as well. Not necessarily whether they were good or not, but whether the message of some were overly politicized, or the wrong politics altogether for others.
Brewing Up a Storm
Anheuser-Busch earned mixed reviews for Born the Hard Way, the immigrant story of founder Aldophus Busch. It was seen by some as a backhanded rebuke of the new president’s policies on immigration.
Meanwhile, it could be argued that in the years BT (Before Trump) this tale would have been universally hailed as a polished piece of patriotism.
Yet today, many are boycotting the Bud brand over its perceived political statement. On the other hand, it has over 30 million YouTube shares and counting. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not it sells any beer.
Hot Air from Airbnb?
“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.”
Such stirring words from Airbnb couldn’t possibly be criticized, right? Wrong. In light of their recent problems with prejudiced users, some found it cynical that Airbnb would seemingly spin its discrimination issues into an anthem against discrimination.
It could be argued that when it comes to politically infused advertising that just because you have the right message doesn’t mean that you’re the right messenger.
On the Fence About the Wall
Perhaps the most vexing Super Bowl ad of them all this year came out of nowhere from big game newcomer 84 Lumber. This epic depiction of migrants traveling afoot in front of the backdrop of the proposed wall on the Mexican border, appeared at first glance to many as a sympathetic ode to the plight of those struggling to escape to America to make a better life for themselves, documented or not.
However, according to 84 Lumber CEO and staunch Trump supporter, Maggie Hardy Magerko, “There were many interpretations, but the message is in the eye of the beholder.” So while she believes the wall is a necessity, Magerko has purposefully left some wiggle room, perhaps with the hope of offering something for everyone— a goal rarely achieved in marketing.
In this age of purpose-driven marketing, making a political statement can either be a major boon or a colossal bust. With everything seemingly politicized, you never quite know how your ads will be received. Still, marketers continue to throw $5 million dollar Hail Marys during advertising’s biggest game, the Super Bowl. Attempting to take a risk and go long in an age of extreme political division is a game yet to be decided.