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Tom Brady was not the only hero at Super Bowl, two controversial adverts were too

Sharika Nair
6th Feb 2017
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Tom Brady, widely regarded as the greatest quarterback of all times, led one of the most thrilling comebacks in Super Bowl history on Sunday, in a scintillating game that saw New England Patriots beating Atlanta Falcons.

Super Bowl, though, is also famous for advertisements. Companies pump millions of dollars every year into their advertising budget to get a 30-second spot for their brands in between touchdowns.

Yesterday, there were quite a few fun, entertaining commercials and a few others that fizzled out. But what was interesting were the political statements a few of the brands chose to make with their ads. Usually, advertisements are some of the most politically correct form of content, with companies leaving the tough stance and the more abrasive opinions to media. In fact, companies often take the feel-good, non-controversial themes too far, with ads often coming across as regressive and outdated.

However, it should come as no surprise that the aftermath of one of the most divisive election battles in the history of the US should see ad films making political statements too.

President Donald Trump, whose controversial opinions are causing panic among women and minorities and other vulnerable groups, recently signed an order restricting immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries. He has also declared that he will be following through with his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country.

Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial, therefore, chose to showcase the story of their founder, German immigrant Adolphus Busch, who went on to build one of America’s most well-known beer brands. Less subtle and more controversial was the advert by 84 Lumber, a construction company, that had their initial ad rejected by Fox television channel. The company then decided to show a version of the ad, which had the ending chopped off, during their Super Bowl spot, and directed viewers to their website to see the full ad. Their server couldn't handle the traffic yesterday and crashed. The advert can be viewed below.

Donald Trump’s policy outlook is not seen as pro-women, which is probably why automaker Audi decided to tackle another contentious topic in their advert - gender wage gap. This advertisement has 37,000 likes and 5,30,000 dislikes on YouTube at the time of writing this article, making the controversial nature of the topic self-evident. There are many who believe that the wage gap is a myth and that the disparity between pay packages based on gender actually happens because women tend to take breaks, part-time opportunities and work in sectors that pay lesser, for example, academics.

The other side claims that it is a myth that wage gap is a myth! Despite considering factors such as maternity leave for child care and differences due to industry and sector, statistics show that there is still a very real wage gap between men and women.

The below data and chart was released by Bureau of Labour Statistics, which comes under the purview of the United States Department of Labor.

In 2014, women who worked full time in wage and salary jobs had median usual weekly earnings of $719, which was 83 percent of men's median weekly earnings ($871).

USA gender pay gap
Gender pay gap statistics for different sectors in USA
Credit: Bureau of Labour Statistics

So, the fact that Audi decided to talk about this topic in the below video is certainly courageous.

We have seen several Indian brands taking a stance on social and gender issues, but whether we will see our advertisements taking sides on political issues remains to be seen.

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