Students React: Super Bowl ads with something to say


The Budweiser Clydesdales of 1996.

Apple’s “Introducing Macintosh” of 1984.

These are the legendary advertisements of Super Bowl commercial history, but the big question is what will be remembered from 2017?

Budweiser, 84 Lumber, and AirBnB’s ads all had one thing in common: they commented on current immigration issues and implied positions on President Trump’s travel ban. Many students found this to be satisfying, and they feel their generation is begging for socially engaging content from their trusted brands.

Priyanka Ghosh, a fourth year international affairs and journalism major at the University of Georgia from Alpharetta, Ga., remembers the Budweiser commercial standing out most from Super Bowl LI. The ad entitled “Born The Hard Way” told a 60-second story of founder Adolphus Busch and his immigration from Germany to the U.S. in 1857, leading to the development of the Budweiser company.

“It’s really important that a company like Budweiser, like a beer company, says something because that’s something that’s so American, and for them to take the position that immigrants are Americans too, that’s really important and really positive,” Ghosh said.

The commercial offers a not-so-subtle reminder to viewers that all Americans were once immigrants, and immigrants can create something good and add something to society. The ad was highly controversial, coming under fire for being too overtly political and even stirring up a movement to boycott the company.

Students felt the most controversial but most necessary ad was 84 Lumber’s “The Journey Begins,” part one of an extended commercial available on the web. It shows a Spanish-speaking mother and daughter on a journey together that appears to mimic an immigrant’s journey to a new land and directs users to the full version online, which shows a massive wall blocking the border to the U.S.

Sierra Herndon, a fourth year history major at UGA from Macon, Ga., felt this commercial was critical given the new administrations propositions.

“It’s important because Trump is trying to alienate people from certain countries and certain religions, and we’ve done that in the past and it’s always ended up biting us in the ass,” Herndon said.

After finding out that Fox required 84 Lumber to cut out the portion of the ad showing the wall, Herndon wasn’t thrilled with the broadcasting company’s choice. Given her political views, she would have liked to have seen the whole ad air during the Super Bowl because she believed it had a positive message.

AirBnb’s Super Bowl commercial comes on the heels of months of controversy surrounding the company regarding discrimination from those renting out their properties through the service. Proclaiming the mantra “We Accept,” it countered those claims against discrimination and stood in opposition against President Trump’s travel ban.

Gabrielle Grey, a third year public relations major at UGA from Loganville, Ga., feels Airbnb did the right thing with their ad despite claims that it was “too political” or “too controversial.”

“I think a lot of issues are political because people politicize them, but I don’t think there’s anything political about human rights and using your voice,” Grey said.

Grey feels other companies should follow suit and not shy away from hot button issues.

“If the company holds a specific opinion or viewpoint on issues that affect stakeholders in their company or the general public in their markets, then yeah, they should say something, and don’t be shy,” Grey said.

Kalli Drake

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