Don’t Stop Believing:
At Super Bowl LI, Advertising Takes a Stand

Superbowl Commercials

“The will to succeed is always welcome here.”

As a migrant mother and daughter walked through a doorway built through a border wall, 84 Lumber was catapulted from virtual unknown to overnight sensation.

To play it safe is to play into the hands of Average. Its nefarious clutches claim anyone unwilling to take a risk. And a big risk in advertising is the new crusade of consciousness. For the past few years, it’s been an increasing industry trend to align brands to social conscience. Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign comes to mind. Kraft Heinz declined to do a Super Bowl spot, using the savings to give each of its workers the day off. Starbucks is now making it a point to hire refugees. Some support these strategies, and applaud companies’ courage for taking a stand. Others say it’s cynical exploitation of righteousness, pretending to care or just doing it to ride the resulting wave of controversy.

We at MACLYN happen to believe that the best of advertising is merely the best of humanity. That when a brand makes a stand, the risk is worth the reward.

As proof, we offer Super Bowl LI. The fantastic day for football is also advertising’s finest hour. It used to be that agencies would vie for the honor of funniest ad. Yet in a turn from the typical this year, comedy took a backseat to social consciousness. Coca-Cola, Google, Audi, Airbnb, and more all broadcast messages of inclusion and equality in a tumultuous time, walking away from humor to make a political statement. Generating so much interest it literally crashed their website, 84 Lumber’s “The Journey Begins” struck a blow. So too did the beautiful Budweiser ad “Born the Hard Way” about founder Adolphus Busch coming to America, made in direct response to the recent immigration ban.

114.4 million people watched this Super Bowl. A 30 second spot alone cost $6 million. The commercials represented some of the biggest brands in the world. With all that money, with all that pressure, with all of America’s eyes on them, companies chose the common good over comedy. It speaks to a paradigm shift towards bold brands that take a stand.

Part of MACLYN’s endgame is to encourage our clients to do the same. To fight for what they believe. To let out a battle cry of pure passion. To push the creative envelope. To reject mundanity, and wave the banner of their own morality.

We’re not telling you what to believe. We’re just asking, “what do you believe?”