Were you fooled by the true political message behind any Super Bowl ads? #AlternativeFacts


The day after the Super Bowl is the usual time for people to talk about Super Bowl ads. This year, with everyone hot about the election, it is not surprising that those that rose to the top have a political message. People are talking about Airbnb, Budweiser, 84 Lumber and Audi.

However, as consumers start to dig in a little deeper, there are a few ads who are missing out on the truth behind a few of the spots.  The two ads that might not be as expected, or as we would say in 2017, they might have alternative facts are:

  • 84 Lumber
  • Audi

I have seen people tweeting, “That’s it. I am now going to buy more lumber” which is foolish or “I am a loyal fan of Budweiser, I’m never buying a Bud again” which is just as foolish. The reality of aligning yourself to a political message is it is the slowest way to gain customers and the fastest way to lose customers. A bunch of strategists of the world are saying “if you are purpose driven, you have to stay purpose driven”.  That’s OK, but what does that have to do with politics?

84 Lumber

On Monday morning, everyone on my Facebook has been talking about the “84 Lumber” spot. Ad Age and AdWeek have it on their top spot. OK, people, a lumber company who I never ever heard of just spent $10 Million on a 2 minute ad to send you to their website to see a 5 minute version.  Wait, what’s the brand name again, 84 Lumber. Ok, I forgot since I typed it 2 minutes ago.

So I  watched the 5 minute video and I was confused.



Is this a pro-immigration ad, or an anti-immigration ad?  What does the door opening mean? Does it mean that America is an open door filled with opportunity to realize the american dream? It might.  Or does it mean the wall will have a door that is a legal way to get into America? It might. Most of the left believed it means opportunity and they love the ad. The right also believed it was pro immigration, so they hate the ad. Apparently, the 84 Lumber CEO is a staunch Trump supporter and came out on Monday and said:

“We need to keep America safe. America needs to be safe so you and I can have the liberty to talk. The wall, I think it represents, to me, security. I like security.”

So, 84 Lumber who is a B2B brand focused on a very niche audience should never be in the Super Bowl have now run the risk of pissing off the left and right. Why did 84 Lumber spend $10-15 Million?  They say ‘awareness’.  Well, you have some short-term awareness, as both sides will now hate you. But who do you need awareness from? You are a B2B lumber brand. Anyway, personal marketing bias is that I hate awareness as a goal. But even worse, if you poke your nose into an issue, you better be able to stand up to the issue. 84 Lumber cannot even express what they want now. Imagine a year from now, they bid on the construction of the wall. They likely will. So how do you now feel about this ad?



I can’t blame those who feel betrayed by 84 Lumber, because that’s now I feel about Audi. I’m very pro-equality, and with an 18-year old daughter, I want her to achieve as much as she can in life. I rated this spot as my favorite Super Bowl ad.  Here’s the spot.



And here’s the script:

  • What do I tell my daughter?
  • Do I tell her that her grandpa’s worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom?
  • Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets? Or maybe, I’ll be able to tell her something different.
  • Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.
  • Progress is for everyone

I still love the spot, but I am not so sure Audi has earned the right to say this. There are no women who sit on Audi’s Management Board and there are only two women who sit on its 14 person American executive team. In the press release for the Super Bowl ad, the car company said it was publicly committed to supporting women’s pay equality and pointed out that half of the candidates for its graduate internship program must be female. I feel fooled by their message. Actions speak louder than words. Audi made me a completely hollow promise. Isn’t this the same Volkswagen company that told us about fuel emissions last year? Let’s hope this backlash can work to make Audi do more for women inside their own organization before they start challenging everyone else to do so.  So how do you now feel about this ad?

Do the #alternativefacts make you feel different about these TV ads?


I believe brands should never pick political sides. You must realize that choosing political sides after a hotly  contested election is the fastest way to lose sales and the slowest way to gain sales. Politics is ugly. Brands should stay away.

There is a difference between a cause and a political belief.

It is great to be such a purpose driven brand that you stand up for your beliefs. But, why do you feel compelled in 2017, to extrapolate your purpose into the partisan political arena? The closer you get to one side of the political aisle, the uglier it can get. When it comes to politics, people cannot see straight. There beliefs are so deep, you will not change any minds. Instead, you should expect severe blowback, which could haunt your brand for years. I still think of Chick Fil A as the brand against marriage equality. Did you know that Chick Fil A quickly backpedaling on that stance? Wait, you think a brand should stand up for itself? Once Chick Fil A took some heat, they did a 180 turn and started donating to LGBT causes just to avoid a full on boycott. Yet, in my mind, their initial statements will stick forever.Last year, Starbucks had baristas writing #racetogether on coffee cups. Seemed innocent enough, but when their customers complained, Starbucks quickly backed away. If you like that brands stick their nose out, then you must hate when they pull back at the first sign of trouble.

If you are really purpose driven, then why does it have to show up in your advertising? Why not be authentic about your purpose and line up with a cause you believe in. How about mobilizing all your employees to go clean a river or give back by teaching kids how to read, or go work at a food bank. To keep it is authentic and pure, how about you do it quietly and believe you do not even need to garner any PR. Let your actions speak louder than your words.

As a guide, there has to be truth to your advertising. If you lie, you will get caught. So next time you have an ad you love, ask them “can we really stand behind this message?”.  Looks like 84 Lumber and Audi cannot.

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Audi stole the show during the US Presidential debate


audirenderThe ratings for Monday night’s US Presidential debate hit an all-time high. Based on recent polls, it appears a very close race. With such a large and captivated audience, the Audi brand did a fantastic job with their new ad released on-line during the debates. This 90 second spot for the new $110,000 Audi R7 is a high quality spot that feels like a Super Bowl ad, with the hope of going viral.



For advertising to be considered effective, it has work to establish your brand’s long-term reputation, based on a simple, unique, own-able and motivating brand positioning while engaging and influencing consumers to see, think, feel, act or scream about your brand, so your brand ends up in a stronger business position. At Beloved Brands, we use the ABC’S to judge whether an ad will work for the brand. (Attention, Branding, Communication and Stickiness). The Attention and Branding are about how you say it, while the Communication and Stickiness are more related to what you say. It is the creative idea that brings them all together.

  • Attention: You have to get noticed in a crowded media world where consumers see 7000 ads per day. If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding: Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best. Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand. It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication: Tap into the insights of the consumer helps tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand, not just about what you say, but how you say it.
  • Stickiness: Build a consistent experience over time to drive a consistent reputation in the minds and hearts of the consumer.





Our review of the Audi Ad

Audi’s creative idea says “Beautiful things are worth fighting for”. That line just screams consumer desire. To be able to afford a $110,000 luxury car, they are positioning it as a reward for all your hard work. The ad uses the creative idea of “worth fighting for” as the main inspiration for everything in the ad, helping gain attention, driving towards the branding in the end and communicating the desire. As they build this campaign, I hope they keep going with this idea.

  • They use it to garner the attention of the audience. As I watched the ad, my first thought was “here are two campaign officials about to fight” and in the moment of the debate, I thought this is going to be hilarious. It made me want to watch right away.
  • In terms of branding, I admire that they waited. Ipsos will tell you that the best brand link comes from the ads where the brand is part of the climax of the story. Too many Marketers mistakenly think it is about how much branding you have in the ad, or how early you have the brand show up. As this is a viral ad, with the Audi name on it, you can really afford to wait. I kept wondering “how are they going to naturally tie this story into the brand?”. Great job.
  • In terms of communication, they did a great job in creatively expressing desire. That’s what every brand manager asks for, but it is not an easy thing to do. This ad used the build up of the story to pay off that desire with the ending having the two valets about to fight over who gets to drive the new Audi. With any viral ad, in a crowded world of social media it can be hit and miss.
  • In terms of stickiness, the spot has over a million views after 48 hours. For this type of budget and brand, I would say that is ok-to-good, but not yet amazing. I found it through an industry friend on Facebook. I can see the advertising community loves the spot, but I would like to see it show up more naturally through others on Facebook, Twitter or even LinkedIn. So maybe it’s a case of a poor media play. I hope the brand stays with this type of campaign and continues to build the idea outward. I love it and I am looking forward to the next ad in the campaign.

Lastly, Audi did a great job in staying politically neutral. As a brand coach, unless your brand is closely related to the outcome of one party over the other, with a 45%-to-45% race, only a foolish brand would publicly pick sides.

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