Super Bowl ads send political messages

Global Business

More than 110 million television viewers tuned in to see the New England Patriots once again crowned Super Bowl champions on Sunday night. But it was not just the American football game people wanted to watch.

It was also the high-priced commercials in between the action on the field. This year, some ads addressed more political and social issues reflecting the current state of affairs in the U.S. and worldwide.

CGTN’s May Lee reports.

Super Bowl ads send political messages

Super Bowl ads send political messages

More than 110 million television viewers tuned in to see the New England Patriots once again crowned Super Bowl champions on Sunday night. But it was not just the American football game people wanted to watch. It was also the high-priced commercials in between the action on the field. This year, some ads addressed more political and social issues reflecting the current state of affairs in the U.S. and worldwide. CGTN’s May Lee reports.
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Watching the multi-million dollars commercials has been part of the Super Bowl-viewing tradition for decades.

This year, many took on a more serious tone to address political and social issues.

Budweiser’s ad “Born the hard way” is a tribute to the company’s founder, Adolphus Busch, a German immigrant. The ad was shot before the U.S. presidential election. It’s debut during Super Bowl LI was unexpectedly timely given Trump’s recent travel ban.

Gender equality is the message in Audi commercial’s this year featuring a go-cart racing young girl and her father. It reaffirms Audi’s commitment of eliminating gender pay gap in workplace.

“They’re responding to their customers. And the customers want to know what these companies stand for, what they believe, how they express themselves, what values they have,” David Ellis, senior vice president at R & R partners said.

However, it’s not just advertising that’s used to reflect values. Businesses are also responding to public pressure. For example, retailers Nordstrom’s and Neiman Marcus dropped Ivanka Trump’s fashion collection. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quit President Trump’s economic advisory council after users boycotted the service. Starbucks has vowed to hire 10,000 refugees in response to Trump’s travel ban.

“Values have political implications they have social implications, they have day to day implications and as they relate to a brand, they’re really going to have implications at the cash register and ultimately that’s what counts,” Ellis said.

Nevertheless, there are limits to a message, especially during the Super Bowl. Building supplier 84 Lumber’s ad was deemed too controversial for broadcast and was edited. A portion that depicts a mother and daughter’s journey to the U.S. from Mexico was removed. The full ad however was posted online, causing 86 Lumber’s website to crash on Sunday.


Sahil Jain talks about social media’s impact on Super Bowl ads

For further discussions on how marketers are using social media to advertise during the Super Bowl, CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo is joined by Sahil Jain, co-founder and CEO of AdStage.