As much as the NFL didn’t want politics to overshadow the big game, the Super Bowl matchup between the Patriots and the Falcons had some unmissable political undertones. Notably, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft are all close friends and supporters of Donald Trump. It’s a tough thing to rationalize for Patriots fans, and for some their ties made the game itself a battle between good (Atlanta and the Falcons) and “evil” (the Pats and their rich, conservative Trump supporters).
That narrative was at the front of many people’s minds throughout the game, and the subject matter of many commercials only underscored the politics — even if most of them weren’t doing it on purpose. Since Super Bowl commercials are planned out and confirmed months or even a full year in advance, none of them could be said to specifically be reacting to Trump’s ascent to the White House. But companies from Audi to a little-known lumber company aired beautifully produced and expensive commercials that supported values that have been in the news lately like keeping a door open for immigrants and equal pay for men and women.
The Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies have been bubbling up since the beginning of his presidential campaign, so although these commercials aren’t specifically responding to recent executive orders and the like, what would normally be benign support of American values seems in direct opposition to the administration’s agenda right now. Each of the below represent an America that is already great, and which does not need Trump to change anything (or build a wall) in order to improve it.
Airbnb could be referencing immigration, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, or all of the above in their Super Bowl commercial. But they also could plausibly simply be advertising that anybody from anywhere in the world can use their services. A perfectly double-sided but reasonably neutral message.
Audi’s commercial might have played even better to a national audience if Hillary Clinton currently occupied the White House (which the company might have been planning on). But the message behind it still resonates. A father watching his daughter contemplates equality between men and women and how she is just as good as someone of the opposite gender. It presented a simple, enduring message.
Of course, there is one small drawback to Audi’s message that is a bit of a downer…
This ad debuted last week, so people knew that Budweiser went in a different direction than their normal Clydesdale-featuring Americana pastiche. This year, immigration is at the top of everyone’s mind and while the story of Adolphus Busch might not be completely factually accurate as presented in this commercial, it is certainly topical and strongly pro-immigration.
Coca-Cola’s commercial originally aired during the 2014 Super Bowl and hasn’t been in the rotation since. That they would pull it out of storage and air it during the big game again seems like a pointed move.
Lumber 84’s commercial almost didn’t make it to the finish line after Fox told the company to dial back the message in the commercial before it aired. In response, they split the commercial into three pieces and tweaked Part 2 slightly (the piece that aired during the actual game). The commercial was definitely the most overtly political of the night, telling the story of a mother and daughter on a journey to the United States.
Mexico and their Big Avocado money had the most surprising presence during the game, but the commercial was also one of the most entertaining. Shelling out that cash was probably worth it just to remind American avocado lovers where the fruit comes from in light of recent actions by our president.
Something to think about…