Advertisers Fumble in Super Bowl LII

Feb 7, 2018 8:25 AM ET
Blog

Brandon Graham’s strip-sack late in Super Bowl LII wasn’t the only fumble during the game, as advertisers failed to take advantage of a massive audience to bring awareness to key issues and reinforce authentic advocacy. Instead, they played it safe, largely avoiding politics and purpose in favor of humor.

It was a major departure from recent years when companies including Airbnb, Audi, 84 Lumber, Colgate and Budweiser used their slots to shine a light on issues like immigration, female empowerment, equal rights and sexual assault – and demonstrate action.

While there were some exceptions, most were light, feel-good spots on philanthropic efforts ranging from disaster relief to water access. There was also one spot that was criticized for its effort. Here’s a brief overview of a few of the CSR-themed ads:

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev's Stella Artois brand teamed up with Water.org and the nonprofit’s co-founder Matt Damon for the ad “Taps,” promoting the multi-year campaign in which Stella donates money to provide clean water for people in the developing world for every purchase of a specially designed version of its iconic chalice glasses. While the call to action is simple, the result is impactful – each chalice provides five years of clean water for someone in the developing world.
  • Another Anheuser-Busch InBev brand, Budweiser, highlighted its disaster relief efforts. Set to the tune “Stand By Me,” the ad entitled “Stand By You” shows a Budweiser factory general manager waking in the middle of the night to supervise switching over a production line from canning beer to water in response to a natural disaster. The ad highlights Budweiser’s long-standing commitment to providing water during disasters, a fact the general public may not be aware of.
  • Toyota sent a message of unity with a lighthearted ad featuring a priest, a rabbi, an iman and a Buddhist monk carpooling to a football game. With a tagline “We’re all one team,” the spot perhaps came closest of any to getting political. While it was by no means a hard-hitting rebuke of current calls for immigration reform, the ad did send a positive message.

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