Lawson: Super Bowl commercials got political in a much needed way

Super Bowl 51 was held in Houston, Texas on Feb. 5, 2017. It featured an historic 25-point overtime comeback win by the New England Patriots over the Atlanta Falcons.

Super Bowl 51 was held in Houston, Texas on Feb. 5, 2017. It featured an historic 25-point overtime comeback win by the New England Patriots over the Atlanta Falcons.

Angelica Lawson

The Super Bowl is not only a big day for the NFL but also one of the most important days of the year for advertisers. This year’s Super Bowl commercials had an underlying theme of politics.

Many advertisers decided to use their $5.02 million 30-second spot to take a stab at our current political climate.

The Super Bowl commercials have taken on their own spotlight. Every year, millions of people tune in for the highly-anticipated 30-second time slots. While there are always memorable ads that win over the American people, some of this year’s ads took us somewhere more emotional and definitely more political.

Budweiser, which has previously made Super Bowl commercials with adorable puppies, giant Pac-Man games and its trademark Clydesdales, took on a more serious commercial topic: immigration. It’s quite the jump for the generally light-hearted company.

The commercial takes viewers through co-founder Adolphus Busch’s immigration story. The popular opinion is that the ad is direct fire at President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policy. I tend to agree with that opinion; the commercial doesn’t go into great detail, but you do get snippets of some Americans welcoming Busch and some American telling him to go home–unfortunately a common thing being spewed by anti-immigration supporters. This commercial has ignited a pro-Trump boycott of the proud macro brewery.

Audi’s 60-second commercial “Daughter” focused on equality among the sexes. In the ad, the voiceover asks the question, how is he supposed to tell his daughter that her grandfather is worth more than her grandmother — that she is less valuable than a man who would have her same skill sets? In the closing frames of the commercial, Audi declares that it is committed to equal pay for equal work and closes with its logo and the #drive progress.

Airbnb sent a direct message to the anti-refugee policies that the president has set in place. The commercial features images of different people, along with copy going across the screen about accepting people no matter what. On its website, Airbnb made a pledge to provide short-term housing for 100,000 people, including refugees.

The last commercial that has earned deep reflection is the 84 Lumber commercial. The commercial depicts a child and her mother attempting to cross a border, and when they reach the border of the two countries they are greeted by a wall. The wall has a door made of wood, and in its gap, the mother sees hope; she pushes the door open and continues the journey.

What a seemingly beautiful sentiment. The commercial is targeted at men and women in their 20s “who really believe in American dreams,” said 84 Lumber CEO Maggie Hardy Magerko. This commercial has received lots of praise because of its beautiful imagery and the positive ending for the mother and daughter. The ending copy states “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”

It all seems like a message stating that even with the proposed wall, those who are willing to fight for their dreams will be rewarded. This isn’t the message of the ad at all — 84 Lumber is in support of the wall and the “big beautiful door” that people can enter through. This is a more poetic way of saying, “stand in line” our way, the right way.

It’s appalling how 84 Lumber has used this very real threat to falsely promote itself under a leader who is against what the commercial is portraying. The CEO is not a universal representation of 84 Lumber, but she does speak for their company, and that is what people should remember before they give praise. The woman who orchestrated this commercial believes in building a wall around the land of the free.

She believes in leaving anyone who was not born here out of a country that is just as much theirs as it is mine or yours. Before you praise them, look at who they really are — look at who speaks for them. 

The Super Bowl brought politics into our homes in an unexpected way this year. This speaks volumes to the state our country is in. It’s the biggest advertising day of the year, and companies are using $5.02 million to send political messages.

These are trying days, but remember that you have a voice. Let your representatives know what matters to you. Exercise your right to assembly and to free speech — make sure your opinions don’t get lost in the endless shuffle.

This is an unexpected but welcomed turn of events. It’s humbling to know that these million, some billion-dollar companies are sharing the same feelings as you. Football has a way of bringing people together, and this year, Super Bowl LI did that on a whole new level. If you agreed or disagreed with the content, you also found someone in that room who resinated with you. These commercials started conversations for people, and they helped people express their feelings. That is a whole new element to the Super Bowl, and one I definitely enjoyed this year.