Why this year's Super Bowl ads pulled punches on Trump

Something was missing from this year's slate of Super Bowl ads.Unlike last year, when Super Bowl advertisers p...

Posted: Feb 5, 2018 8:31 PM
Updated: Feb 5, 2018 8:31 PM

Something was missing from this year's slate of Super Bowl ads.

Unlike last year, when Super Bowl advertisers put politics and Trump-related content on display, this year's line-up was far more subtle.

In 2017, Trump supporters called for a boycott of several brands after the big game.

Last year's Super Bowl aired shortly after Donald Trump's inauguration as president. It featured a hair commercial that said "America, we're in for at least four years of awful hair," an 84 Lumber ad with immigrants and a border wall, and a Budweiser ad that told the story of its immigrant founder.

Kia used Melissa McCarthy, who had just started her parody of then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Even though she wasn't in character for the spot and the ad wasn't political, it still caused a backlash among Trump supporters.

The tone in 2018 was far more reserved.

This year, viewers saw a T-Mobile ad with a message about equality and a Ram Trucks commercial that used a sermon by Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote the value of service.

None of the ads made direct references to President Trump, and that may have been strategic.

"Given the fact that Trump dominates the news cycle, there was strong aversion to those types of ads," said Jason Damata, an analyst at brand consultant Fabric Media. "Trump was the third rail in that no one went there. They all went after the things that bring us together. They took advantage of the moment."

Related: Ram Trucks used an MLK sermon in a Super Bowl ad. Then this happened

Damata said this year, most brands chose to "speak to all audiences and not just one segment of the population."

He said they embraced messages of diversity and unity as a way to appeal to everyone.

"Advertisers know that culturally there's some polarization in the country," he said. "But you really saw the all-American fabric showing up. Last year the political ads did fine. It's not like they didn't perform, but I think they made the calculation that people are sick of it. They weren't trying to fire people up."

Damata noted that comedy was again a popular trend and that brands played it "safe and sweet with things we can all agree on." He cited data on the top 10 ads in terms of engagement and noted that five of them had themes of togetherness or featured diverse casts.

Last year's most controversial ad was 84 Lumber's spot, which showed a Hispanic mother and daughter setting out on a journey from their home toward America. It was considered so politically charged that Fox, which broadcast last year's game, deemed part of it too controversial to air on TV. It declined to show the end, in which the migrants come upon a large border wall with a door built into it.

The ad led some Trump supporters to vow not to shop at the building supply company. But it's worth noting that 84 Lumber's owner, Maggie Hardy Magerko, said she voted for Trump. In fact, having a huge door in the wall is something Trump himself mentioned repeatedly in campaign speeches.

Damata said he's unsure whether that ad would've resonated in quite the same way this year.

"The threshold for shock is now so high," he said. That's why most brands "calculated that they're better off going for hope and aspiration -- the softer side of things."

West Lafayette
Few Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 83°
Kokomo
Few Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 80°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 80°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 80°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 82°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
81° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 82°
Frankfort
Overcast
81° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 82°
Delphi
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 78°
Monticello
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 78°
Logansport
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 80°
Warm Day, Record Warm Night, Then Showers & Storms Friday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 152396

Reported Deaths: 4023
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24905785
Lake13380352
St. Joseph8985161
Elkhart8530132
Allen7978222
Hamilton6000113
Vanderburgh567560
Tippecanoe358714
Monroe322238
Hendricks3221130
Johnson3051128
Porter303648
Clark289161
Delaware284574
Vigo256038
Madison232493
Cass222822
LaPorte220958
Warrick190065
Kosciusko179224
Floyd177367
Howard160066
Bartholomew139758
Dubois136726
Marshall134226
Henry123429
Grant122639
Wayne122127
Boone119548
Hancock115645
Noble114633
Jackson109413
Morgan93040
Dearborn92828
Daviess85333
Gibson84911
Clinton82916
Lawrence82634
Shelby80330
LaGrange77715
Harrison74824
Knox72110
Putnam71616
DeKalb69911
Posey6896
Fayette61417
Steuben6118
Miami5875
Montgomery57822
Jasper5744
White57215
Greene52137
Scott51013
Decatur49939
Adams4815
Whitley4426
Clay4396
Sullivan42913
Ripley4278
Wells4205
Wabash4029
Starke3977
Orange38825
Huntington3805
Spencer3746
Franklin36625
Washington3632
Jennings36013
Fulton3472
Randolph3439
Jefferson3305
Pike32915
Carroll31713
Perry29714
Jay2946
Fountain2883
Tipton27023
Vermillion2251
Newton22211
Parke2223
Rush2084
Owen2031
Blackford1983
Martin1960
Crawford1531
Pulaski1481
Brown1303
Ohio1247
Benton1080
Union1060
Switzerland900
Warren761
Unassigned0233

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events