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As 111 million people huddled around TVs across America to watch the game between the Patriots and Falcons, there was something unique about the commercial ads that interrupted all of the passes, plays, and tackles. Whether intentionally or not, the ads that aired during Super Bowl LI were as much of a statement on the current state of political affairs as they were a distraction from them.
Although nearly all of the ads had been made months prior to airing, many viewers have found significant meaning and numerous messages in them that related to events of the past few weeks; from the fact that the U.S. was built on immigrants to the hopelessness that seems to evade gender equality in all aspects of life, the ads that ran Sunday night pinpointed the stark contrast of where we need to be as opposed to where we currently find ourselves. The room for growth is vast and overwhelming, yet many companies took the to acknowledge where they stand on a variety of issues, today and for the future.
More than ever before, CEOs, founders, and employees have been taking a stance on issues that not only affect their respective companies, but also the world. From equal pay to commending the diverse workforce that makes many corporations run, the ads run during the Super Bowl LI did not hold back.
Below is a compilation of some of the notable stances companies took during the most pricey ad placement of the year.
Audi: Gender Equality
The ad—or rather, the father—says it all. In We live in an age where a woman can run for president yet still is paid 25 percent less than the average man. While the discrepancy in pay equality is still great, it is not insurmountable. We are on the threshold of closing the gap, and as the father indicates, this coming generation might be the one to do it. Instead of being hopeless, the ad is concerned, hopeful, and determined—similar to the nation’s females.
Airbnb: Global Displacement and Unity
In a quick scramble before the big game, Airbnb decided to remake its entire commercial the week before the Super Bowl, something unheard of and never attempted before. The company had made a public statement promising to house 100,000 people displaced by conflict or unable to return to the United States as a result of the immigration ban. Airbnb’s abrupt decision to create an ad mirroring its stance on inclusivity further enforces the company’s commitment to equality, especially after a finding that discrimination may have been prevalent among certain Airbnb hosts. The company is starting from within in order to effect change, and in the wake of world issues, is not taking a long time to work outward.
84 Lumber: Immigration
The banned ad was aired at halftime on the company’s website, causing the company’s servers to become overwhelmed. A heavier ad than the others, 84 Lumber’s creation could be called a short film. It depicts the harrowing journey of a mother and daughter to the U.S. who come upon the foretold “wall.” Although the ad was the most explicitly political stance a company had taken during the Super Bowl, the story is one that many immigrants to the United States share, and the ad would have been be applicable even if it had been aired 10 years prior. Similar to the Budweiser ad about how an immigrant’s tale was not meant to be politically-charged, the story of a mother and daughter immigrating to the U.S. depicts what generations upon generations of people had done: built the U.S. into what it is today. It is not just a story of now, but a story of what has been, what is, and what will continue to be for generations to come.
At a time when companies are focusing on their ethos in a distinct way, the decision of where we choose to work weighs on our shoulders more than ever. As college students and graduates apply for internships and jobs, the way a company or corporation presents itself means just as much, if not more, than what the competition says about them. It is our decision to give meaning to certain actions, draw conclusions from certain ads, and support the businesses whose values align with our own. In a moment where all of America comes together over one game, it is doubly important to remember that ads, however charged they are, indicate only partial views of our America, and the world.
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