Politics in Super Bowl LI

Touch a Nerve?

Previous Super Bowls were used as a platform to raise awareness or influence thinking of the viewers. As the father of two daughters, most memorable to me was P&G’s Always 2015 offering of “Like a Girl” which has been highly effective at changing our lexicon.

This year, selected brands chose to use their “$5M for 30 seconds” investment on more controversial issues such as immigration and gender equality. These spots didn’t score as well during the live broadcast…after all, who wants to discuss a serious issue during the fantasy experience of the Super Bowl with a beer in one hand and a wing in the other? However, on social media, these issue-driven spots zoomed to the top of trending topics, views and shares.

84 Lumber

The original spot submitted to air was rejected as it was deemed too controversial as it featured a border wall. 84 Lumber revised the storytelling into two separate spots. Part 1 was for Super Bowl broadcast and Part 2 for viewing online afterwards. Both spots feel like a movie. No voice-over. Stunning visuals tell the story of a mom and daughter on a journey from somewhere south of the border heading north to America. This spot is an extension of 84 Lumber’s employee recruitment campaign.

84 Lumber Part 1
84 Lumber Part 2

Why the Controversy?

The 84 Lumber spot contained messages designed to intentionally trigger emotions:

  • Put a face on the immigration issue (mom and daughter)
  • Displayed the desire, sacrifice and dangers along the journey

At the same time, it subtly delivered messages that were likely not intentional and may have also triggered emotions in other viewers:

  • Glorified activity that is against US law
  • Undermined the value of citizenship (either Mexico or US)

Social Media Winner

On social media, the positives far outweighed the negatives. The Journey84 website was set up to handle 150,000 requests per minute, but received 300,000 requests in the first minutes after the commercial’s airing. It took 10 minutes to resolve the situation. Social media ads were used to drive viewers to watch the video on YouTube. Sixty minutes later, 84 Lumber’s site had received 6 million requests.

Brandwatch, a social analytics firm, reported 99,000 mentions of 84 Lumber across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during the game. That is a championship performance but at what cost? Financially, the 90-second video required $15M to air and likely cost another $3 million to produce.

How Will 84 Lumber Judge Success?

What is the value of 99,000 social media mentions? Not sure, but I can estimate that each of those mentions cost $181 if you do the math (total investment/# of mentions).

Controversy Lesson for Business Owners

Controversy creates attention. Businesses desire more attention. Controversy can have a negative price. Bigger businesses have deeper wells of prospects to handle the cost of controversy. Smaller businesses operate from shallower prospect wells and must find the right issue to attract their best customer before wading into controversy. You will find your loudest proponents and opposition on social media.

Drew’s Soap Box – You’ve Been Warned

Audi – Daughter – #DriveProgress

Drew drawing up a play for front yard football with his girls.

Drew drawing up a play for front yard football with his girls.

I’ve raised two daughters.
We’ve wrestled.
Coached them in soccer.
We played front yard football where the “Girls rule and the boys drool.”

So this Audi spot featuring a young girl racing against the boys hit home. My girls have been beating up on the boys for years. The fatherly voice over speaks to the gender equality issue and the “worth” of a woman compared to a man. I completely support equal pay for equal work. However, as a political issue, I’ve found gender equality a tricky topic, as well as this Audi spot.

For example, I am conflicted with the spot’s message about the world placing a value on them. I’ve taught my girls to not let the world determine your value. My wife and I have poured into them that they are intrinsically valuable because they are a creation from God.

Secondly, I’ve found that the Gender Equality issue seems to de-value the role of motherhood. My MBA educated wife experienced this firsthand from other career women while choosing to raise children as a fulltime mom.

Lesson for Business Owners

This internal conflict of support and opposition to the same political issue is what makes these issues risky for businesses to leverage.

Next installment of Hot Marketing Tips features the Best Use of Celebrity

Super Bowl Trivia: What celebrity is featured in spots from two different advertisers? Find out in the next edition!

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