Super Bowl commercials usually stick with safe and humorous themes, more often than not featuring rollicking puppies, Kung Fu pandas and plenty of sight gags.
While there will still be plenty of that, some big corporations have begun releasing TV advertisements for this Sunday’s games that venture into heated political territory, including women’s rights and immigration.
On Wednesday, for example, Volkswagen’s Audi released a heartstring-tugging spot with the tagline: “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.”
The commercial is about a girl competing with boys in a soapbox derby.
“What do I tell my daughter? That her grandpa is worth more than grandma, that her dad is worth more than her mom,” the girl’s father says in voiceover as he watches his daughter race off. “That, despite her education her drive, her skills and her intelligence, she will automatically be valued at less than every man she meets?”
Cue the piano trills and stormy violins, but Audi’s ad addresses an issue pertinent to most corporations: Women earn roughly 20% less than men for performing the same work. Equal pay was one of many themes addressed by the hundreds of thousands of people who participated in women’s marches following President Trump’s inauguration.
Similarly, Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” commercial appears to wade into the battle over immigration, a timely theme given President Trump’s executive order from Friday, temporarily barring refugees and most travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
The ad tells the immigrant story of Anheuser-Busch, producer of Budweiser, tracing the journey of company co-founder Adolphus Busch as he travels from Germany in the 1850s. He braves heavy storms on the Atlantic, and endures angry Americans crowds when he arrives in the U.S., with plans for his beer in a notebook.
“You’re not wanted here,” one angry native shouts while another yells, “go back home!” It seems like a response to the ugly rhetoric over immigration from Trump campaign rallies in 2016, although it was reportedly conceived before the November election and was meant as a message to entrepreneurs.
“This commercial shows the start of Budweiser’s journey, and while it is set in the 1800s, it’s a story we believe will resonate with today’s entrepreneurial generation — those who continue strive for their dreams,” Budweiser VP Ricardo Marques said in a statement.
The company also said in an emailed statement: “We believe beer should be bipartisan, and did not set out to create a piece of political commentary; however we recognize that you can’t reference the American Dream today without being part of the conversation.”
At the end of the Audi commercial, the girl wins her race. At the conclusion of the Budweiser spot, Busch meets his company co-founder Eberhard Anheuser, and they agree to go into business together.
If only real life could be so easy.