The Real Winners This Super Bowl, Empowerment and Inclusion

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Lauren Salzman co-Editor-in-Chief From the Audi Super Bowl 50 Advertisement:

“What do I tell my daughter? …That her dad is worth more than her mom? Do I tell her…she will automatically be valued less than every man she meets?…

Think back to four years ago, when Super Bowl commercials were filled with lewd depictions of women, telling us that “our value lies solely in our youth, beauty, and sexuality,” according to The Representation Project. Remember the Carl’s Junior ad where a woman, virtually naked, is walking and eating a cheeseburger? Or the GoDaddy advertisement featuring supermodel Bar Refaeli kissing an overweight, afro-ed boy? Fast forward a few years to this Super Bowl, where the focus was on unity and inclusivity, not just for women, but for Americans, an identity that has been exclusive of minorities recently. Values and hard work were promoted, not sexism and discrimination. It all started off with three members of the Hamilton cast adding the word “sisterhood” into America the Beautiful, which has not yet received significant backlash. Even though some ads were still in poor taste, these overpowering commercials rivaled Tom Brady’s comeback performance. 1) Honda’s advertisement, featuring photos of famous entertainers from their high school yearbooks, focused on working towards your goal, no matter how many people may put you down and try to block your path. In this commercial, Viola Davis inspiringly said that, “The point is, all dreams are within reach. All you have to do is keep working towards them.” In a world where kids live guided by expectations and conformity, it was encouraging to be reminded that dreams can come true. 2) 84 Lumber’s commercial lasted roughly five minutes and had many crying by the end. It featured a struggling mother and daughter in their fight to travel from Mexico to America. After walking for what seemed like days, train rides, and little food, the duo reached the border, but their faces fell when they arrived. A wall, unclimbable and insurmountable, was at the border. But then, a door appeared, and the pair crossed into the United States, the daughter proudly holding her homemade American flag, made of trash she found along her journey. The story ends with the words, “The will to succeed is always welcome here.” 3) Airbnb chose to use their time to challenge what it means to be American and to stress that inclusivity benefits us all. There was no renting of houses or apartments, but rather the commercial showed the stories of people from all walks of life, genders, sexualities, and races. “We believe,” the screen read, “No matter who you are. Who you love. Who you worship. We all belong. The world is more beautiful the more we accept.” The day after the Super Bowl, I heard countless people in the halls saying, “Did you see the Airbnb ad?” While I hope it wasn’t just about brand promotion, this advertisement represents the cause, voice, and beliefs that so many Americans are fighting for today. While women are being paid less on the dollar than men, and immigrants are viewed as threats to the federal government, Airbnb reminds us that we are all human. Super Bowl ads cost millions of dollars, so why did these company executives choose to promote unity, kindness and inclusivity as opposed to their brands? On one hand, having positive messages in conjunction with one’s brand creates a positive association in the viewers’ minds, especially in Airbnb’s case. The rental platform has received lots of criticisms and is accused of facilitating misconduct, so in promoting cultural acceptance, they likely improved their struggling brand reputation. Perhaps a consumer will purchase a Honda as opposed to a Toyota because, subliminally, the buyer will recall the hope and positivity that Honda’s commercial imparted. But on the other hand, I’d like to think that there is something deeper than brand loyalty behind these advertisements. During a hectic time in politics, these ads serve as reminders that the only thing separating us from chaos is acceptance. And if you look around, you’ll find it.

Or maybe, I’ll be able to tell her something different”

-Audi Super Bowl 50 Ad

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