A small number of brands saw Super Bowl LI as an opportunity to share where they stand along the political spectrum in light of Trump’s charged rhetoric. On their February 11 episode, Saturday Night Live took some of the most noteworthy commercials from the Super Bowl telecast to task, especially those using immigration-related themes.
In addition to Budweiser’s founder story, 84 Lumber’s “The Entire Journey” commercial depicted the immigrant struggle, albeit each focusing on very different circumstances and time periods.
The building and construction supplies company’s ad featured the border wall, a Trump campaign promise to curtail illegal immigration. The commercial shows the arduous journey from Latin-America to the U.S. of a mother and young daughter. As the two arrive at the border, they encounter what seems like an insurmountable obstacle – a very tall wall. In a twist, a large wood door allows the travelers entry.
The emotional ad provoked a strong reaction from those on opposing sides of the immigration issue. Some saw the ad as encouraging illegal immigration; others as a reprieve to the anti-immigrant sentiment so evident during the presidential campaign. But 84 Lumber’s CEO Maggie Hardy Magerko told People Magazine she supports Trump and his immigration views, and did not actually intend to take a political stand. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/02/07/chief-84-lumber-speaks-out-super-bowl-ad/97583534/
So, as the SNL parody suggests, brands do not necessarily espouse the political views depicted in their ads, but are looking instead to capitalize on the ongoing social media conversation around political issues which often results in instant twitter buzz, webpage hits, and earned media. Nothing more. Neither Budweiser nor 84 Lumber have revealed any corporate-level immigration-related initiatives, unlike many of Silicon Valley companies that depend on immigration for key talent.
For now, it appears that 84 Lumber and Budweiser were successful in cutting through the clutter of a less-than-memorable batch of Super Bowl ads. Whether there will be any long-term positive (or negative) brand impact remains to be seen.