Each year, more than 111 million fans across the nation and the world (NFL teams have played in London) look forward to the Super Bowl. That’s about the equivalent of every person in California watching the Super Bowl times three. Not only are the fans excited to see the two best teams face off against each other, but they are also excited to watch the array of creative commercials that the Super Bowl has become known for. 2014 produced my personal favorite Super Bowl commercial which is Audi’s doberhuahua, which can be seen by clicking the link. The commercial shows a couple purchasing a dog, but they can’t decide between two breeds: a doberman and a chihuahua. The couple then decides to mix the breed, the outcome is ridiculous looking dog, and a funny commercial.
Every year businesses hope that their ad will be aired, and this year was no exception.
Except that it was.
Super Bowl Sunday provides the perfect opportunity for over 111 million people to see ads. The Super Bowl offers businesses the best exposure for their products. I would not have seen the Audi commercial above if it were not for the Super Bowl, as I don’t watch a lot of on air television. Companies are willing to spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl airtime, because the exposure is great. According to USA Today, “30-second commercials for the first Super Bowl in 1967 cost a measly $42,000, but that average broke the $1 million barrier in 1995 and hit a record high of $4.5 million in 2015.” The exposure usually increases profit, however, this year the stock market told a different tale. The high cost is usually worth the risk of such a high investment.
Traditionally, Super Bowl ads are meant to offer humor as a way for the audience to escape the high anxiety of the game. However, some of the ads this year offered a bit more controversy than in the past. Airbnb, Budweiser and Coca-Cola have all released aggressive and emotionally charged commercials during the 2017 Super Bowl that oppose the president’s view on immigration.
Airbnb’s commercial depicts the faces of several individuals of different races to convey that we are all equal. The Declaration of Independence states “that all men created equal.” Airbnb is using this founding principle as a way to illustrate that society needs to be more accepting. The commercial ended with #WeAccept. My article’s image is a screenshot from the commercial. The Budweiser commercial is much more explicit in its message in that it depicts a German immigrant, the creator of Budweiser, coming to America. Budweiser’s ad is an overt attack on Trump’s immigration policies. Coca-Cola’s commercial was a group of people singing “America the Beautiful” in several different languages and it was previously shown in the 2014 Super Bowl. The New York Times states that Coca-Cola’s commercial is more relatable to today’s political climate than when it was released. Airbnb and Coca-Cola’s ads are less overt but are related to Trump’s immigration policies in that they are about the acceptance of different backgrounds. Budweiser’s ad is much more aggressive. Immigration is not simply implied in the ad, it is illustrated.
These businesses have done so in an attempt to gain influence and thus profit. The more influence a company has, the more profit it is likely to generate. Super Bowl ads cost millions of dollars to air. Some could point to this as justification for a counter argument, which would show that these companies care about social issues and are willing to risk their profits. Yes, this could be one accurate argument, but it’s not the only one. These companies are well versed in various marketing techniques. Their primary goal is to make money, as much money as they possible can. They are masterminds of manipulation. These companies are using social issues to not only advance their anti-Trump agenda, but they are also using it elicit sympathy from you, the consumer. If you look at the stocks of Budweiser you’ll see that there was a decline after February 5th. Coca-Cola, on the other hand, had no significant changes. It rose less than 10 cents. Albeit it was a very short rise for Coca-Cola as it quickly dropped a few days later. These fluctuations in the stock market show that people are aware of the marketing tactics used by businesses.
Airbnb had lost its influence due to an incident of discrimination that occurred early last year, but has since rebounded. The incident that occurred last year shows that a black man was inquiring about a space while visiting Philadelphia, and was rejected due to the color of his skin. In response Airbnb vowed to fight racism by introducing an anti-discrimination agreement for its hosts. An article by Slate implies that the new agreement might not be enough to curb racism. Budweiser, on the other hand, has taken quite a hit to its stocks dropping to $108 a share after the Super Bowl, when in September 2016 it was selling at $133 a share. In an attempt show solidarity with the new president, Trump supporters were quick to create a boycott by using social media to create the #BoycottBudweiser. A quick look at Coca-Cola stocks shows that the company has also been faced with a slight decline. In April of last year stocks were just over 46 dollars a share, while today are at 41 dollars a share.
The political stances that these companies have taken seem to have hindered them. The possible negative implications are immediate for Budweiser and Coca-Cola as they can take direct hits as they’re selling a product that is tangible, while Airbnb’s sells an intangible product that only users of their site can purchase. Companies should do what is right for them and their values, as is their right. But businesses should be aware that the political squabbles of today can transform their future. Sometimes it may be necessary for businesses to take a political stance, but businesses need to be sure that the moment is right. The boycott of Budweiser could have had devastating consequences if the boycott were more serious; luckily for Budweiser, people like to consume alcohol. Companies want their consumers to believe that they have their best interests at heart, which may or may not be true. Consumers should take commerical ads with a grain of salt. The ad, no matter how convincingly it depicts its support for social justice, has one ultimate goal. That ultimate goal is for the consumer to purchase a good.
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