Three Things to Know About the Company Behind the Super Bowl’s Most Controversial Ad
Sunday’s Super Bowl—traditionally the most prime of times for TV advertising—featured an array of ads on the theme of immigration and diversity. Budweiser told the story of its co-founder’s journey from Germany to the US, recounting some of the prejudice he faced, and Coca-Cola (KO) featured a multilingual cast singing “America The Beautiful.”
The most controversial, however—and perhaps the most poignant—was aired by a building materials supply company called 84 Lumber. It showed a mother and daughter embarking on a journey across Mexico in a bid to reach the U.S.
The ad’s first cut, in which the pair were blocked by a forbidding border wall, was deemed “too controversial” to air by broadcaster Fox. The company settled on a 90-second clip that depicted portions of the journey, with an invitation to watch its conclusion online. At the end of the full version the mother and daughter find a wooden gate in the wall, which opens to the tagline “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”
Here are a few more details on the company behind the 2017 Super Bowl’s most controversial ad.
1. What’s The 84 All About?
While Orwell references might be timely, it turns out the number in 84 Lumber’s name refers to the farmland community of Eighty-Four in Washington County, PA where the company is headquartered.
According to its website, company founder Joe Hardy got together with family and friends to pool the presumably coincidental sum of $84,000 required to purchase land for the company’s original lumberyard back in 1956.
2. Diversity has been critical to the company’s success
Under owner Maggie Hardy Magerko, the daughter of founder Joe Hardy, 84 Lumber currently operates more that 250 stores across the U.S. and it’s planning to expand further by putting up new outlets on the West Coast.
Sunday’s Super Bowl ad comes as the company is in the middle of a recruitment campaign.
3. They bet on a risky ad strategy and won
84 Lumber’s Super Bowl ad was intended to make a “patriotic” statement that portrayed the U.S. as a “great land of opportunity.” That’s according to an interview Rob Schapiro, chief creative officer at ad agency Brunner, who was interviewed by Business Insider.
Marketing analysts the newspaper spoke with said that airing an apparently political ad during the Super Bowl was risky. And during consumer tests before the event the ad reportedly performed poorly—largely because it didn’t reach a conclusion.
“We were fully aware the ad would get people talking and we’re glad it did,” Amy Smiley, 84 Lumber’s VP of marketing told Fortune, “We advocated that America is the land of hope and opportunity for everyone and that should never be a controversial message.”