As we spent Sunday watching Super Bowl LI, we were impressed by the risk takers who weren’t afraid to be authentic.
We believe one of the best ways for a company to connect with an audience is through compelling storytelling that emphasizes shared values. Here are three issue-driven Super Bowl ads that owned their positions and told memorable stories:
Airbnb—We AcceptThe best way brands can mitigate and emerge from a crisis is to do good work and talk about it. Last year, Airbnb found itself under fire after reports surfaced that the short-term rental conglomerate was passively enabling discrimination. Since then, Airbnb has taken steps to proactively address this issue. Sunday’s Super Bowl ad, heroically pulled together three days before the game, was followed by the launch of a campaign to provide short-term housing for 100,000 people in need and is a terrific example of a company decisively taking ownership of its public image.
Budweiser—Born the Hard WayBudweiser’s origin story celebrating “the American Dream” contained enough social and political themes to stir up national conversation. While #BoycottBudweiser became a trending hashtag on Twitter, the company’s honest, values driven approach won more supporters than detractors — with most using the catchphrase sarcastically. While the irony was apparent to anyone scrolling through Twitter feeds, it is important to keep in mind that current sentiment monitoring tools have difficulty measuring tone and can easily misrepresent responses to ads like Budeweiser’s.
84 Lumber—The Entire Journey
With Super Bowl ad rates demanding more than $5 million for 30 seconds, it doesn’t get much riskier than running a 90 second teaser commercial on a topic at the height of political controversy. By taking ownership of their company’s reliance on immigrant labor, 84 Lumber creates a gripping call to action. After the ad aired, the company website reportedly crashed under the influx of traffic, as Super Bowl viewers logged on to watch the content ‘deemed too controversial for TV.’ And while 84 Lumber may not have been prepared for the initial quantity of visitors, they knew where to send them. The company career page titled, start your journey with us, is prominently featured beneath the extended cut as an accessible and final call to action.