Messages about America, inclusiveness — and, yes, even “four years of awful hair” — kept bubbling up in Super Bowl 51 ads from Airbnb, the NFL and a line of personal care products. But there was still plenty of escapism and light humor for those who weren’t into the politics.
As the New England Patriots edged out the Atlantic Falcons on the field in Houston, Airbnb touted inclusiveness with an ad showing faces of different ethnicities and the copy: “We all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”
Coca-Cola aired a previously run ad during the pregame show in which people sing “America the Beautiful” in different languages. And Budweiser ran a 60-second spot chronicling co-founder Adolphus Busch’s migration from Germany to St. Louis in 1857, prompting some critics to start a boycott campaign on Twitter.
Even a hair care brand dipped into politics: The “It’s a 10” hair brand indirectly referenced President Donald Trump‘s famously unruly do in its Super Bowl spot.
It’s tough to be a Super Bowl advertiser, period. But this year, a divisive political climate has roiled the nation since Trump took office in January, making it even tougher for advertisers.
Advertisers who paid $5 million for 30 seconds had to walk the line with ads that appealed to everyone and didn’t offend. Some were more successful than others.
“Anxiety and politics just loom over this game, so anybody who gives us the blessed relief of entertaining with a real Super Bowl commercial wins,” said Mark DiMassimo, CEO of the ad agency DiMassimo Goldstein.
Several ads aimed for just that. Tide, for instance, offered a humorous ad showing announcer Terry Bradshaw trying frantically to remedy a stain while his antics go “viral” online, with the help of New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski and actor Jeffrey Tambor.
WALKING THE POLITICAL LINE
“Brands used to worry about whether their ad could be interpreted as right or wrong,” said Kelly O’Keefe, a