Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Super Bowl Ads to Steer Clear of Controversy

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Super Bowl Ads to Steer Clear of Controversy

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Super Bowl advertisers are treading carefully this year to avoid alienating customers as a divisive political climate takes some of the buzz away from what is usually the biggest spectacle on TV. Ad critic Barbara Lippert says that while "people need an escape, like the Super Bowl, this year's matchup on the field feels "so much less important than what's going on politically.

To get the attention back, some advertisers are turning to nostalgia, celebrities and marketing stunts. P&G is sexing up Mr. Clean, Honda is featuring nine celebrities and Snickers is running a live ad.

Others are touching on social issues, without being too blunt about it. Budweiser won the pre-game buzz with a sweeping cinematic ad showcasing founder Adolphus Busch's 1857 immigration from Germany to St. Louis. Although it has been in the works since May, the ad felt topical, as it was released online just days after President Donald Trump's travel ban against people from seven Muslim-majority countries. The ad got more than 8 million views on YouTube in just four days.

Although many brands released ads online ahead of time, there will still be surprises during Fox's Super Bowl broadcast Sunday. At $5 million for a 30-second spot, and an expected U.S. audience of more than 110 million, the pressure is on.

Audi's spot addresses gender equality as a man muses about his daughter receiving equal pay as men one day.

Construction company 84 Lumber had to revise its original ad because a scene featuring a border wall was deemed too controversial by Fox. The new ad shows a Mexican woman and her daughter making a trip by foot across Mexico. The ad's ending will be revealed at halftime at journey84.com; the website suggests excised footage will be shown.

And Kia attempts a humorous approach. In an ad for the Niro car, Melissa McCarthy takes on political causes like saving whales, ice caps and trees, each time to disastrous effect. The message: "It's hard to be an eco-warrior, but it's easy to drive like one with a fuel-efficient Niro.

Though advertisers are being extra careful, taking on any sort of political topic might backfire, says Mark DiMassimo, CEO of ad agency DiMassimo Goldstein. Against the backdrop of an "emboldened, enraged or traumatized audience, he says, themes that might have been innocuous in the past "seem more strident and jarring this year.

In turbulent times, brands can count on celebrities to ensure goodwill among consumers.

And why use one celebrity when you can have many? In Honda's ad, the high-school yearbook photos of Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Viola Davis, Missy Elliott, Tina Fey, Magic Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel, Stan Lee and Robert Redford come to life with special effects. The animations encourage people to follow their dreams in a nod to Honda's longtime slogan, "The Power of Dreams.

Website hosting company Squarespace shows an intense John Malkovich berating the owner of johnmalkovich. …

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