You might have noticed one or two thousand commercials during this year’s Super Bowl that featured pretty unsubtle political undertones.
When a brand is able to weave its story or core values into a broader social or political context, the results can be pretty incredible (see: Anheuser-Busch). But for every brand that uses cultural context as a way of adding layers to its message, there is another that opportunistically looks to cash in on a relevant conversation.
Unfortunately, one of this year’s most celebrated Super Bowl ads comes from a brand who falls into the latter category.
Make Lumber Great Again
Many praised 84 Lumber’s lengthy spot for its clear political POV—one that sympathetically portrays the struggles, hopes, and sacrifices that go into an immigrant’s journey.
Adweek celebrated the spot as “a beautiful and proactive take on immigration.” And at first blush, it’s easy to see why—the spot ostensibly reimagines the American Dream through the eyes of a mother and daughter looking for a better life in the United States.
What if I told you the ad more than likely intended to show support for Trump’s wall?
In a recent interview with USA Today, 84 Lumber’s owner and CEO Maggie Gardy Magerko opened the commercial’s true meaning to interpretation, stating that the political message was “in the eyes of the beholder.” She went on to admit that she not only voted for Trump, but that she also takes a pro-wall stance when it comes to immigration. In a separate interview with The New York Times, she troublingly clarifies that she has a welcoming attitude towards only “certain” immigrants.
All this without mentioning that Trump’s description of the wall has been known to include a “big beautiful door.”
Still feel like the spot was championing the immigrant cause?
So, should brands stay silent?
Of course not. Instead, they should be honest with their consumers about the values they promote.
With information so readily available and accessible to consumers, brands must stay true to who they are—if they push a strong point of view in their marketing efforts, they have a responsibility to live up to that position, or else they open themselves up to a PR nightmare.
While consumers often applaud, support, and reward a brand for having the courage to share a strong perspective on real-world issues, they deserve a brand that supports a cause both in and outside of their TV spots.