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Super Bowl LIV Ads Analysis: A Multicultural Perspective from C+R Research Experts

Tuesday, Feb 04, 2020

Super Bowl LIV Ads Analysis: A Multicultural Perspective
from C+R Research Experts
Super Bowl Commercials – Loud and Clear On Diversity Message
While soft and murky on LGBTQ appeal
Super Bowl ads have, once again, provoked commentary from industry experts in marketing to Hispanic, Asian American, African American and other Multicultural markets. MMR asked thought leaders from C+R Research to provide their analysis of the Super Bowl ads from a multicultural perspective.
  • NFL Appeals to Largest Growing Minority Fan Base with All-Latin Musical Experience for the First Time in its History
  • This Close to Being Truly Inclusive
  • Budweiser’s Well-intended Beer-Goggled “Typical American” Ad Hits a Nerve
  • With Few Exceptions, Super Bowl Advertisers Miss the Multiculturalism Goalpost
NFL Appeals to Largest Growing Minority Fan Base with All-Latin Musical Experience for the First Time in its History
As 1 of every 6 American residents is Latino, it’s no surprise that the NFL aimed to appeal to the largest growing minority fan base at this year’s Super Bowl LIV halftime show in Miami by having two Latina headliners and an all-Latin musical experience for the first time in its history. One would think that advertisers would’ve taken advantage of this opportunity by including more Latino-centric ads to cater to this growing population; however, the majority of this year’s campaigns played it safe with humorous commercials with various actors and TV personalities that could appeal to a large audience, hoping to steer clear of controversy presumably because it is an election year. Still, a few ads stood out from the rest – the Sabra Hummus LGBTQ-inclusive ad featuring drag stars for the first time in Super Bowl ad history, and Olay’s ad which included a diverse cast of women of different ages and backgrounds, with the promise of donating to an organization that promotes helping women interested in STEM for every #MakeSpaceForWomen tweet. By Cynthia Nuñez Schaffer, Senior Research Analyst, CultureBeat™ & LatinoEyes®.
View company profiles here and here.

This Close to Being Truly Inclusive

High-budget Super Bowl commercials mean more high-profile celebrities, and this year, among them were several LGBTQ celebrities. Lil Nas X danced off for Doritos; Lilly Singh went to space; and Jonathan Van Ness introduced new flavors of Pop-Tarts. While that’s more LGBTQ representation than commercials usually feature (since most only show straight couples and families, or sexuality is irrelevant), unless you already knew that these celebrities identify as LGBTQ, nothing about the content of the commercials themselves stood out as notably queer. The Sabra hummus ad did feature a couple of drag queens, and married couple Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi wondered what life was like before Alexa; but that was the extent of queer content. Microsoft’s ad championed Katie Sowers as the first woman NFL coach in the Super Bowl, but she’s also the first lesbian coach in the NFL and the first lesbian to coach in the Super Bowl, and those milestones were completely unmentioned. Notably, there were several ads this year that focused on what all people have in common. Budweiser’s Typical American ad focused on positive generalizations about Americans, Snickers brought everyone together to fix the world, and TurboTax claimed everyone could be a tax person. While these ads all featured a diverse group of people of all ages and ethnicities, they also all lacked any clear indicators of the LGBTQ community – despite the LGBTQ community’s strong buying power, and even when brands are trying to appeal to everyone, most companies still aren’t thinking about their LGBTQ consumers. By Anna Rossi, Senior Research Analyst, CultureBeat™ & LatinoEyes®.
View company profiles here and here.
Budweiser’s Well-intended Beer-Goggled “Typical American” Ad Hits a Nerve

Budweiser’s “Typical American” ad that aired during Super Bowl LIV approached inclusiveness not by focusing on a specific ethnic or national group, but by turning the label “Typical American” on its head and depicting Americans of all walks of life doing atypical and noble things (such as clothing a homeless man, putting out a raging California fire, helping a stranger push his vehicle during a snowstorm, and an African American male offering “Free Hugs” to a line of armored police officers during a protest while a narrator describes stereotypes of the “Typical Americans” in a manner intended to convey irony). While perfectly well-intended on the surface to convey patriotism and showcase the American spirit, I can see the beer-goggled ad hitting a nerve among some that believe that America has room to improve and is not helped by companies commercializing the very real social issues that they are fighting. By Erika Patino, Senior Research Analyst, CultureBeat™ & LatinoEyes®.

View company profiles here and here.
With Few Exceptions, Super Bowl Advertisers Miss the Multiculturalism Goalpost
It is entertainment in the end, but the Super Bowl could be so much more for advertisers willing to put some skin in the game of multiculturalism. We are left with little to nothing worthy of praise from the commercials in a time when consumers are thirsty for messages that are not only engaging but culturally relevant. Sure, most advertisers and their ad agencies have become wiser, and multi-ethnic casting was clearly up to snuff… but casting alone is not enough.  Keeping with tradition, most ads bet on humor and wit to deliver their message and keep viewers entertained. In the end, entertainment is what it’s supposed to be; so maybe I should be fair and think of it from just that perspective. Yet, the multicultural marketer in me sees a missed opportunity. Nevertheless, in a sea of witty ads, two stood out to me; although only one is getting my multicultural “thumbs-up”: Olay’s ‘Make Space for Women’ not only brilliantly and humorously addressed the issue of gender equality and empowerment, but it went beyond by astutely putting out a call to action in benefit of Girls Who Code. NFL’s ‘Inspire change’ is also noteworthy in that it used the game’s platform to bring to light social injustice and the need for reform. Sadly, I can’t help but think it feels a bit self-serving in the aftermath of the reckoning brought onto the league by Collin Kaepernick, especially after the controversial decision not to air PETA’s ad. As far as multiculturalism goes, it is clear there’s a long way to go for Super Bowl advertisers. By Jorge Martínez-Bonilla, Vice President, CultureBeat™ & LatinoEyes®,
View company profiles here and here.
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