Today, Superbowl traditions will not involve guessing what company will have the biggest commercial of the year. The biggest scandal we see will not be a wardrobe malfunction. A funny or awkward moment won’t be missed if you weren’t watching your TV at that moment.
Today, ads are being released before the Superbowl with extensive social media support. The controversy being sparked is through political statements that companies and performers are making, and how people are interacting on social media in response. Plus, anything remotely funny or uncomfortable will be made into an internet meme in seconds.
I am going to focus on some of the top Superbowl commercials, their meanings, social media support and social media response by viewers.
Here we go…
#BoycottBudweiser was trending on Twitter all day yesterday even before the Superbowl or the company’s ad aired. The VP of Marketing of Anheuser-Busch said the ad was “created … to highlight the ambition of our founder, Adolphus Busch, and his unrelenting pursuit of the American dream .” It showed him immigrating from Germany to America, being told he wasn’t wanted there, but pursuing his dream to create the beer company. However, following Trump’s immigration ban, the positive and accepting immigration message it was sending sparked controversy with Trump supporters, who began to #BoycottBudweiser. The other side responded, sparking a full immigration debate on Twitter surrounding the beer and it’s ad. Some tweets are shown below:
I am wondering if this type of response was predicted by Budweiser, and if they are happy with the outcome. Obviously a lot of buzz was created over the company and what it believes in, but did they expect a big negative response? I think given current events, they must have known this would spark controversy. When some things trend like this it is ideal, free marketing for a company created by social media users, but I wonder if Budweiser is looking at it differently, as one twitter user pointed out… many Trump supporters are big beer drinkers.
When 84 Lumber’s commercial aired, everyone I was watching with fell silent. One person who had seen the #BoycottBudweiser hashtag, but didn’t know what it was about, thought it would be the Budweiser ad. As we followed the tough journey of a girl and her mother trying to cross the border into the United States, the story ends abruptly with the 84 Lumber logo and a story slogan about inclusion. Within minutes, the real story is posted everywhere on social media – the ad was deemed too controversial and had to be cut in order to be aired. I think this made people more interested, crashing 84 Lumber’s website. The full version is in the video above, which specifically portray’s the “wall” Trump plans to build at the border, yet leaves a happy and inspiring ending.
For a company I hadn’t heard of, specifically a lumber company, I think this was a bold move and attracted them attention beyond what they could have expected. Again, they took a clear stance and received social media love and hate. Was their goal to create this hype around their company or was it merely to show their political stance? I think both.
Following the inclusion theme, AirBnb and Coca-Cola highlighted that people of all genders, races, religions, sexualities, and so on were welcome. Coca-Cola played America the Beautiful behind diverse images of people and landscapes, and Airbnb showed close up faces with a message over them, ending in the #weaccept hashtag. By ending their message specifically with a hashtag, Airbnb was tying together a community and wanted to bring people together over social media. They also later tied #weaccept with Lady Gaga’s performance of “Born this Way” – a song emphasizing LGBTQ rights.
Companies are getting smarter and smarter at creating buzz around their products and services in real time, but I find it truly amazing that so many companies took their expensive Superbowl opportunities to bring people together and promote positive messages, and many politicians spoke out to agree, rallying behind the #weaccept hashtag.
Audi also used its Superbowl ad spot to support a cause: equal pay for women. The ad was inspiring and stated their company’s support of equal pay outright. This also created a lot of talk around the #DriveProgress, a common theme of hashtags being placed in ads to start the conversation on social media. Coming after the Women’s March focused on this as a big issue, Audi continued the political Superbowl we were watching.
On a non-political note, the Mr. Clean commercial set up an awesome social media response by Pine-Sol. The commercial featured Mr. Clean dancing seductively while cleaning, with the message that a woman loves a man who cleans. Pine-sol, a competitor with a female mascot, immediately challenged Mr. Clean to a dance off for charity, creating a poll on Twitter to entice users. They were also able to create graphics surrounding this idea in real time – something we discussed in class with Oreo’s quick “Dunk in the Dark” response. The company’s quick response was trending and the friendly banter was entertaining. We will see how Mr. Clean responds!