Super Bold: The Politically Responsive Ads of Super Bowl 51

Written by Tracy Fey

The commercials of Super Bowl 51 had one major theme: our cultural differences make us beautiful. To express this theme of diversity, some advertisers opted to tell a story. Others showcased the corporations’ beliefs directly – and perhaps more boldly.

Story-wise, Anheuser-Busch’s 60-second Budweiser spot had been making waves since last week. The commercial presents the story of the company’s young German founder immigrating to America in the 1850s, and has been praised by some yet criticized as too political by others. 84 Lumber’s 90-second spot about a Mexican mother and young daughter traveling to immigrate to the U.S. has received similar mixed feedback from the public.

By contrast to the buzzworthy stories told by Anheuser-Busch and 84 Lumber, Airbnb placed a fairly straightforward 30-second ad with the message and hashtag #weaccept. Over a series of facial images of ethnically diverse women and men read the words: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong.” While Airbnb didn’t tell one human story, their confident declaration could end up being the event’s most provocative – while also incidentally setting the overall tone of the evening’s advertisements as a whole.