Resistance can sometimes come from the most unlikely sources.
Following in the footsteps of the likes of Budweiser, the American building supplies company 84 Lumber – yes, that’s right, they sell wood, doors, plants and that sort of thing – went full-on political in their Super Bowl advert. Imagine if Homebase suddenly started criticising Theresa May’s Brexit strategy and you’d have an idea of how strange that is.
A minute and a half long edited version was aired during half-time, with viewers being urged to “see the conclusion at journey84.com,” a site where users are told the complete video, which can be watched there or on YouTube, “contains content deemed too controversial for the original ad and banned from broadcast.”
"Fox would not let us air 'the wall,'" Rob Schapiro, chief client officer at Brunner, the firm charged with creating the ad, told the Washington Post.
The shorter version depicts a Spanish-speaking mother and daughter embarking on a long journey, seemingly to enter the United States from Mexico. However, the longer version – which lasts almost six minutes, follows that journey on to its conclusion as they are faced by the grim prospect of Trump’s completed border wall blocking their journey, before a twist at the end: there is a large door in the wall through which they can pass, as the caption reads, “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”
Unsurprisingly, the screening of the advert led to a deluge of discussion on the internet, as various claims were made, alongside 84 Lumber’s own, that they had been banned from airing the full version on TV. Rolling Stone suggested that “the ad was so controversial that Fox only let the company air a few moments of the commercial”. Meanwhile, George Takei tweeted the following:
Searching the web finds no evidence of ‘censorship’ or ‘banning’, while 84 Lumber have not yet provided any proof of their claim – more likely is that the company aired the short version in order to both drive traffic to watch it online instead, and to save money (a 30 second spot costs around $5m; the short version would have cost $15m, whereas screening the whole thing would have set them back $60m).
However, what is beyond doubt is that the short film is epic, touching, and thought-provoking – and we can’t believe anyone in the Trump administration would have been happy with it.
84 Lumber’s president and owner, Maggie Hardy Magerko, said in a statement: “Even President Trump has said there should be a ‘big beautiful door in the wall so that people can come into this country legally.’ It’s not about the wall. It’s about the door in the wall. If people are willing to work hard and make this country better, that door should be open to them.”
Meanwhile, Rob Shapiro, the chief client officer at Brunner, the agency that worked with 84 Lumber to come up with the ad, told the Washington Post, "Ignoring the border wall and the conversation around immigration that’s taking place in the media and at every kitchen table in America just didn't seem right. If everyone else is trying to avoid controversy, isn't that the time when brands should take a stand for what they believe in?… Our message is that America is the land of opportunity and 84 Lumber is the company of opportunity".