Super Bowl ads tackle Trump’s controversial policies

Major companies like Budweiser and Airbnb take a stand

Nora Crumley, Editor-in-Chief

Super Bowl LI was historic not only for its overtime victory by the winningest quarterback in football history, but for its political controversy. Companies such as 84 Lumber, Airbnb, Audi, Coca-cola, and Budweiser used their prime time commercial spot to send a message to consumers across the country.

Controversy began when Budweiser released their super bowl ad early. The ad features the story of Budweiser founder, Adolphus Busch, and depicts his journey from Germany to the United States.

The commercial begins with a passerby saying “you don’t look like you are from around here,” a sentiment directed at the newly immigrated Busch. The ad then flashes to Busch’s journey to the United States: from the shaky boat ride across the Atlantic, to the stamp of the passport, to the journey deeper into the continental United States.

The commercial even includes a scene when Busch first gets off the boat in America, and is taunted by angry bystanders yelling “you don’t belong here.”

This moment and the ad itself made many believe that the company was making a dig at President Trump given his recent anti-immigration executive order.

But vice president of marketing at Anheuser-Busch, Marcel Marcondes, reassured the public in a statement to the Washington Post, she said the ad had nothing to do with the current political climate and instead highlights, “the ambition of our founder, Adolphus Busch, and his unrelenting pursuit of the American dream.”

In a statement  obtained by the New York Times, Marcondes continued “We believe beer should be bipartisan, and did not set out to create a piece of political commentary. However, we recognize that you can’t reference the American dream today without being part of the conversation.”

Despite the company’s claim, many said the ad is a poke at President Trump and his recent immigration bans.

On Jan. 27, President Trump signed an executive order, temporarily banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The executive order caused immediate backlash, with many American’s protesting in the streets and at airports. This executive order has temporarily blocked by a Washington Federal judge on Feb. 3, and will go in front of a judiciary review on Feb. 7.

Budweiser was not the only company that seemed to target Trump’s controversial policies. Coca-cola reran an ad from 2014 featuring people of different ethnicities. The background song “America the beautiful”  was sung in a variety of languages, matching the physical diversity of the people in the commercial.

According to a statement released by the beverage company released after the commercial originally aired, the purpose of the ad was to show, “America is beautiful and Coca-cola is for everyone. We believe it’s a powerful ad that promotes optimism, inclusion, and celebrates humanity.”

Airbnb shared a similar message. In their prime time spot, Airbnb showed the head-shots of a diverse group of people along with the message, “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”

The ad was concluded with the hashtag #weaccept, which was later trending on twitter. The company used their Super Bowl time to highlight their commitment to provide short-term housing for 100,000 immigrants, victims of natural disasters, and aid workers over the next five years.

Airbnb walked a fine line in order to adhere to Fox and the NFL’s guidelines disproving of companies making political statements, and was less controversial than 84 Lumber’s ad that was vetoed by Fox in an effort to remain neutral.

84 Lumber spent $15 million on a 90 second ad that was inconclusive because Fox deemed the scene of a Spanish speaking mother and daughter approaching a concrete wall dividing Mexico from the United States too controversial for prime time TV . This was a direct reference to Trump’s pledge to build a wall between the boarder of Mexico and the United States in an effort to reduce illegal immigration from Mexico.

84 Lumber’s ad was cut before the wall and the mother and child’s distress is seen. Instead the 90 second slot concluded with a message to continue the journey. The 84 Lumber website, that allowed viewers to see the conclusion of the commercial, crashed after the ad aired.

84 Lumber’s president and owner, Maggie Hardy Magerko, told to the New York Times regarding the ad, “I still can’t even understand why it was censored. In fact, I’m flabbergasted by that in today’s day and age. It’s not pornographic, it’s not immoral, it’s not racist.”

Though the Superbowl is often a four hour hiatus from the politics of our day to day life, political and social conversations have impregnated American athletic events. So to the dismay of Tom Brady and the Patriots, his historic win was not the only thing in the national spotlight, now that politics has infiltrated America’s biggest game.