Commercials get political

Editorial: ed·i·to·ri·al
[ed-i-tawr-ee-uhl, -tohr-] noun:
An article that represents the official viewpoint of a newspaper on a topic of public interest.


This past year’s election has lit a fire under some companies and their owners are no exception. The fire lit within them has been expressed through their commercials, but we should not take it at face value. We, as a society, need to fight for what we believe in and when we see injustice, speak up and when we see justice, speak up.

Let’s start with Pepsi. For those who may not have seen Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad (You can still see the ad on YouTube) it has to do with people coming together to protest for what they believe in. This is a great message for #jointheconversation. The problem comes from the ending when the solution to all of the problems seems to be a simple can of Pepsi. We get it Pepsi; you tried to get us actively involved in society but you missed the mark on your over all message, especially when your shot of Pepsi being handed off to a cop resembled Ieshia Evans facing down police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last year.

Pepsi’s response: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue.”

This is not the first time commercials have tried to be political, and we doubt it will be the last. Companies can align with certain political affiliations, that’s okay. They can express political views too but there is a thin line and to cross it is death to a company or near death in Pepsi’s case. Seeing how Pepsi survives this will help showcase the importance of messages in commercials that represent a company.

Let’s take a look back to earlier this year to see other companies that have made political statements. This election really did get people riled up.

The first company on this look back is Audi. We chose this one because it speaks directly to unequal pay for women and this is an issue that has been in debate for over 100 years. Published Feb. 1, this commercial is about a little girl in a soapbox race competing against boys and the fears her father holds for her; that she will not be seen as their equal. This was timed just after the Women’s marches protesting to resist Trump.

Audi did not cross the line in our eyes because it did not duplicate an important moment of protest and diminish it; it didn’t blame anyone outright but it did point out that we need to change this, not men need to change this, and it used an example that most people could relate to and understand. This is a good example of what a business should do if they want to make a political statement but viewers did give this more downvotes than upvotes.

Audi’s response: “Progress is in every decision we make, every technology we invent, every vehicle we build. It’s our past, our future, our reason to exist. Audi of America supports equal pay for equal work.”

The next company on our list is 84 Lumber. This ad, published Feb.5, became so controversial during the Superbowl that Fox only ran a few moments of the ad on air before it terminated the ad causing a surge of traffic to check out 84 Lumber’s website and crashed the site.

84 Lumber did not cross the line because it did not diminish either side of the argument, it just picked a side of “America is the land of opportunity and 84 Lumber is the company of opportunity.” The company did not blame anyone,;it did make the viewer assume some ideas of blame but it never outright said where the blame was placed, and it showed the impact of segregating opportunities based on a demographic. This is a great example of a serious topic and their solution without being belligerent. The ad ends by saying “The will to succeed is always welcome here.” We agree, we will welcome you always if you have the will to succeed.

84 Lumber’s response: “Ignoring the border wall and the conversation around immigration that’s taking place in the media and at every kitchen table in America just didn’t seem right,” Rob Shapiro, the chief client officer at Brunner, the agency that worked with 84 Lumber to come up with the ad, told the Washington Post. “If everyone else is trying to avoid controversy, isn’t that the time when brands should take a stand for what they believe in?”

The last commercial we wanted to look at is Budweiser. We do not condone underage drinking, let us be clear. We chose this ad, published Jan. 31, because it received the most buzz before it aired on the Super Bowl. This ad was timed perfectly to air just after the president announced the travel ban. This ad did not diminish anyone; it did not call out blame to anyone but it did show a solution in a different light, a solution that had already happened. Budweiser showed the roots of where they, and most Americans came from, and the future we all have inside of us.

Budweiser did not cross the line. In their ad, they show the one of the founders of their company, Adolphus Busch, coming from Germany to the United States. From the moment he steps off the boat, he is met with criticism and hatred, but he still perseveres. He finally meets Eberhard Anheuser in a bar and the two begin to plan their dream of brewing the “King of Beers.”

From all of these ads we want to address that it is not about businesses having a political voice, in fact we encourage freedom of speech, it is about degrading others to achieve your point within an ad. In this most recent case of Pepsi degrading the rights of others by simply offering a can of Pepsi. If you feel that a business is misrepresenting, degrading or holding down anyone it is your duty to speak out, have a voice and fight for those who cannot. We are one people; we fight for each other so we can all become better versions of oneself.

Don’t be afraid to #JOINTHECONVERSATION.