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Super Bowl LV Ads Analysis: A Multicultural Perspective (Multicultural Marketing News)

Monday, Feb 08, 2021
Multicultural Marketing News February 2021

Super Bowl LV Ads Analysis: A Multicultural Perspective

Super Bowl Ads Multicultural Commentary

Super Bowl ads have, once again, provoked commentary from advertising experts in marketing to Hispanic, Asian American, African American, LGBTQ consumers and other Multicultural markets. MMR asked top experts, from among those featured in our Source Book of Multicultural Experts Online, to provide their analysis of the Super Bowl ads from a multicultural perspective. Enjoy our 9th annual edition of this newsletter published since 2013. View past issues.

  • It’s Time to Think More Than Just Diversity & Inclusion (Ethnic Technologies)
  • Super Bowl LV Advertising Gets a 15-yard Penalty (d expósito & Partners)
  • Super Bowl LV: Advertising Your Values (Vision Strategy and Insights)
  • Super Bowl Ads: diversity matters (AAAZA)
  • Super Bowl LV Ads Brought Us Back to “Normal” (MediaVillage)
  • Do Good, Covid-relevant Ads Take A Step Forward, Multicultural Ads A Step Backward (INFUSION)

It’s Time to Think More Than Just Diversity & Inclusion
The world has turned upside down since the last Super Bowl in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic forever changed our lives, and George Floyd’s death reinvigorated Black Lives Matter movements. We definitely witnessed some efforts in regards to inclusivity made by the advertisers during Super Bowl LV by continuing to cast Black and Asian actors and actresses as the lead roles. But times have changed, and now it should be more than simply hiring minorities to fill the screen without any real meaning. A good ad in 2021 is not just about inclusivity but it should motivate decency and humanity in this ever-divisive world that we are living in. With that thought in mind, DoorDash and Jeep stood out from their competitors. DoorDash not only reflected diversity in its ad, but in the types of items that were featured, focusing on the people and neighbors that we meet on a regular basis. Bruce Springsteen, who has hardly ever appeared in a commercial over the course of his career, pleaded with the American people to come together and unite. Given what our country has gone through in the past few months, inclusivity should have a much deeper and personal meaning for all Americans. While the news media is at the center of polarizing our citizens, companies should think about presenting their brands in ways that can help unite people and undo the damage being done by the mainstream media. By Bryan Lee, Senior Sales Manager, Ethnic Technologies,
View company profile here.

Super Bowl LV Advertising Gets a 15-yard Penalty
Diverse representation matters. That’s been the mantra across the advertising industry and all facets of Corporate America for the last 8 to 10 months. Alas, we didn’t see inclusive representation in last night’s Super Bowl advertising, despite the major improvements made in the ads from Super Bowl LIV, in 2020. Yes, McDonald’s had a song with a line in Spanish that served as a wink to Hispanics and several brands produced spots with multi-ethnic casts reminiscent of the United Colors of Benetton ads, but much of it came off as people of color playing roles that reflect a white lifestyle just to check boxes. A handful of spots featured African American and Asian celebrities athletes and talent in lead roles, but where were the Latinos? True, the Mexican beers brands represented with Latino stories – Corona with Bad Bunny and Modelo Especial with a Mexican tattoo artist – but that’s expected. What about the American brands? We were even absent from Budweiser’s 90-second online ad touting their contributions to vaccine awareness work with the Ad Council, “The Bigger Picture,” despite the fact that Latinos have been among the hardest hit by and are experiencing profound inequities from the pandemic. The same can be said for the LGBTQ+ and Differently Abled communities across all the advertising. Some claim the big void was the absence of the usual advertisers like Budweiser, Coke, Pepsi and Hyundai, but to me it was the absence of the country’s largest and fastest-growing ethnic group. Advertisers have to do better than this, especially those that have committed to championing equality, equity and social justice. Based on last night’s presentation, the Hispanic community may see all of this as disingenuous and pure lip service. By Louis Maldonado, Partner and Managing Director, d expósito & Partners,
View company profile here.

Super Bowl LV: Advertising Your Values
Perhaps the best advertising strategy for this year’s Super Bowl was not advertising at all. Several big brands, who have been Super Bowl regulars, opted to divert the more than $5 million per spot ad cost to initiatives addressing issues of social justice and the pandemic instead. Gone were the iconic, irreverent, and funny ads from Coke, Pepsi, Hyundai, Planters, and other favorites of Super Bowls past, replaced this year by investments in economic recovery, COVID relief and fighting systemic racism. This most certainly is in response to consumer demand for more corporate activism. According to a recent study (Kantar Monitor, June 2020), more than two thirds of consumers (68%) want brands to clearly state their values along with product information. This is even more prevalent among multicultural consumers, with 69% of Hispanics, 79% of Asian Americans and 82% of African Americans expecting their brands to take a stand on social issues. The study also found that while about half of all consumers (54%) expect brands to actively participate in conversations about social issues, 62% of Hispanics, 65% of Asian Americans and 71% of African Americans agreed with this sentiment. Even the companies who did advertise in this year’s Super Bowl seemed to follow this consumer mandate.  Leading the way was the NFL’s campaign “It Takes Us All”, highlighting their commitment of $250 million to help end systemic racism. And the focus of Door Dash’s ad was their $1 donation for every order to Sesame Street Workshop. In fact, the whole vibe of Super Bowl LV seemed to be that Americans can rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of our collective hardships this past year through the shared values of unity and community. Brands like Jeep (Re-United States), Indeed (Rise Up), Rockstar Energy drink (success through hard work), Toyota (strength) and Michelob Light (joy fuels success) all took on this “universal values” messaging. Most of the advertisers this year did a tremendous job of celebrating various dimensions of diversity in America. A cross section of ethnicities, ages and lifestyles were portrayed as the natural fabric of American life. This overwhelming Super Bowl XV message of social responsibility and inclusiveness made campaigns that followed the historical “humor for the sake of humor” Super Bowl ad formula (Cheetos, Pringles) seem “off brand” and not as relevant to viewers looking for more than just product messaging this year. By Brenda P. Lee, Founding Director, Vision Strategy and Insights, 410-521-2147,
View company profile here.

Super Bowl Ads: diversity matters
Having been in the sports marketing, advertising and multicultural marketing industries, the Super Bowl always has been a favorite TV event for me. First of all, I would like to congratulate referee Sarah Thomas for being the first woman to officiate in the Super Bowl and Tampa Bay assistant coaches, Maral Javadifar and Lori Locust, for being the first female coaches to win a Super Bowl. 2021 was a year of firsts, especially for females breaking barriers, starting with Vice President Kamala Harris, our first female VP. She shattered barriers by being the first African American VP, the first Asian American VP and the first South Asian VP. Lots to celebrate here, but to be true to the theme of this article and discuss the Super Bowl commercials — which can be just as fun as the game itself — I found it encouraging to see Black actors and actresses in lead roles and in many of the commercials this year. The fight for diversity and inclusion for the Black community seems to have taken center stage during Super Bowl LV. This is worthy of celebration in times of a COVID-19 pandemic, police brutality, systemic injustice and outright racism. Some of the ads went beyond diverse casting; they were relatable and well thought out with cultural nuances. And while there was significantly lower representation from other ethnic groups and LGBTQ+, ads for Tecate and Modelo beer incorporated compelling Hispanic cultural insights. I have more to celebrate since I am a die-hard Patriots fan, and I was able to see the GOAT Tom Brady get his seventh Super Bowl ring. Another GOAT who was shown many times was Serena Williams, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in 2003. She is an athlete who is without question a GOAT. However, myself being Korean American and Asian American, I saw very little representation for my community. I was watching the ads with the hope that my community would be featured beyond just plain old ensemble casting. But the only commercial that I felt showcased Asians was an ad for Budweiser where Asian American restaurant workers were celebrating with beers in the kitchen. As disappointed as I was for not seeing stronger representation of my community, I was encouraged to see the Black community have a more prominent role in the most watched event in America, making me proud of what I think is the best part of this country: diversity. The Black community has been fighting for equal rights for as long as this country has existed and I am learning from their perseverance to never give up on hope of eradicating racism in this country. As allies, our time will come to bring diversity front and center in America. Just keep that beer cool so I can have you hold it when our time comes. By Jay Kim, President of AAAZA,
View company profile here.

Super Bowl LV Ads Brought Us Back to “Normal”
Obviously, the game itself and the half-time show thrilled some folks and disappointed others, but at least Super Bowl LV brought us what they all do: great commercials. The overall mood this year was one of levity with a focus on more “normal” things like taxes and cars, which makes sense given the big orange weight that was just lifted from this nation’s weary shoulders. Yes, CBS did a short but dope historical piece called “Before Jackie,” and most of the pregame promo pieces had a heavy pro-equality slant to it, but as far as commercials go, straight-up message-free comedy was the name of the game. There were a lot of strong spots, but the standouts include obvious choices like Amazon’s simple but hilarious Michael B. Jordan as AlexaCadillac’s Edgar Scissorhands bit starring Timothée Chalamet was nostalgia-based fan service at its finest (shouts to Winona), and speaking of, that Wayne’s World commercial featuring Cardi B was exactly what it needed to be — excellent. I also got a solid kick out of Tide’s Jason Alexander hoodie ad and the Cheetos “It Wasn’t Me” ad, which was painfully corny, at least until Shaggy actually showed up. It feels like between the ongoing pandemic and the lingering impact of the mayhem caused by our previous president, people are just happy to be dealing with stuff that’s not as terrible by comparison. By Ainsley Andrade, MediaVillage. Contact info: Diane Stefani at
View company profile here.

Do Good, Covid-relevant Ads Take A Step Forward, Multicultural Ads A Step Backward
What a joy to watch Brady rise again without the backing of the New England machine. His indubitable fight for triumph, passion, tenacity and dedication to team work inspires us and shows that we can overcome anything and succeed, even in our Covid-challenged times. Like him, many brands stepped up to the goal line to successfully underscore our Covid ‘Zoomed-in’ lifestyle, accelerated digital transformation, AI life enhancements, virtual experiences, the contactless economy’s convenience, the importance of Brand care, authenticity, community-minded ‘locavore’, youth, green and economic do-good deeds, and bringing people together. And there was an amazing range of creativity displayed, which I know as an agency owner, had to be done virtually or semi-virtually during the pandemic with a lot of persistence and passion. However, from my lens as a multicultural marketing leader, I witnessed the continued racial whitening, check-the-box multi-colored casting Benetton blended ads, and cookie-cutter solidarity messaging for the news cycle. Despite some Blacks in lead roles, there was less cultural relevance across ads and less cultural authenticity than normal ads. Hispanics were conspicuously left out, the largest ethnicity and highest business growth segment, except in Huggies’ multi-ethnic real babies born this Super Bowl Sunday. Surprisingly, LGBT and Ungendered was also absent, except Toyota featuring Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long. So kudos to those showcasing Black lead roles like Logitech and Lil Nas X Defy Logic on Black creators, artists and activists, Rockstar Energy’s Lil Baby doing good, Michelob Ultra’s organic seltzer with Don Cheadle revealing the fakes, Klarna’s Buy now, pay later, Squarespace with Parton’s reimagined ‘5 to 9’ anthem for after-hours passion projects and side hustles, DoorDash with Daveed Diggs and Sesame Street, Amazon’s Alexa in Michael Jordan human form, and T-Mobile’s ‘Don’t trust your family drama to just any network’ with Anthony Anderson and real-life mom. Many Superbowl first-timers at least had a meaningful ethnic mix like Indeed’s ‘we get the ready jobs’ including a Black female software engineer that brilliantly portrayed the powerful emotional journey of today’s job reality, Robinhood’s ‘we are all investors’ leveraging online trading’s growth, Scotts Miracle gro’s ‘Keep growing’, Cointreau saluting small restaurateurs, Dexcom diabetes AI solutions with Nick Jonas, Hellman’s ‘make taste not waste’, Guaranteed Rate’s DTC brand showcasing athletes, Mercari e-commerce dramatizing the painful car buying process, diverse WeatherTech employees ‘working hard together means something here in America’, and Shift4Shop giving everyone a chance to be a part of the first civilian mission to space. Being ethnic-neutral for a moment, there were relatable ads that kept universal human needs at heart, like Jeep’s astonishing ad with Springsteen on finding the middle and encouraging all of us to be united whether red or blue, Bud Light’s lemonade-flavored seltzer’s whimsical take on DIY’ers ‘lemons’ and hardships, Hands-free electric Cadillac’s ‘Edward Scissorhands’ showing even the misunderstood rise, Disney’s $12.99 streaming bundle delivering fun for all, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela celebrating the outdoors as the place to turn to in these trying times, M&M’s ‘come together’ as an antidote for life’s irritations, AB’s ‘Let’s grab a beer’ about its sharing role during frustrating and sad moments, and Michelob Ultra’s ‘It’s only worth it if you enjoy it.’ Others brought brand ‘Virtualtainment’ and creative challenges, like Mt. Dew’s big promos with $1M payouts to help youth recharge, Cheetos scan for free 3-D chips with an embedded snapchat code, Verizon 5G enabling co-watching the game, from many angles and next gen stats, Tide’s computer-generated ‘Jason Alexander Hoodie’, and Doritos 3D Crunch helping life’s difficulties for #FlatMatthew. And I salute brands championing causes like Coke, Planters and Budweiser who re-allocated their Superbowl millions to Covid vaccine support, Olay to International Women’s Day, Kia to its Accelerate the Food Initiative for American youth, and even the NFL converting all stadiums to Covid vaccine stations. But sadly, on the Multicultural front, there’s much work to be done in Corporate America, and it’s not just about D&I, being sensitive, making a social statement, or hiring ethnic freelancers, because it’s the reality of marketing today and should be as natural as factoring in Whites. Multicultural marketing is a business imperative, where they are accounted for from opportunity sizing, strategic planning, budgets and marketing to advertising that reflects the customer mix and inclusive of a Multicultural internal central unit, agency partners, and. production companies. The future of our industry rests not in just in tech, AI or economic advancements, but in who will tell the Multiculturals stories that bring their brands to life by bringing us all to the richest and truest definition of who Multiculturals are and hope to be. And who we all hope to be. By Liz Castells-Heard, CEO & Chief Strategy Officer, INFUSION, 213-688-7217, 213-305-4129,
View full company profile here.

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