The Super Bowl was on Sunday and I, like millions of others, tuned in to watch the New England Patriots ultimately defeat the Atlanta Falcons. And, also like millions of other viewers, I had to remind myself to stay tuned in and actually watch the commercials, and not run off and do something else during time-outs.
The commercials, isn’t that what it’s really all about? (Well that and an excuse to eat way too many chips and guac and imbibe in a few beers.) Leading-up to yesterday’s airing, there was some concern that some commercials already “in the can” were going to be off-putting to the audience of upwards of 100 million. In today’s current landscape, some felt that the ads could offend, be too political or alienate customers. At nearly $5 million for a 30-second spot, the stakes were high. In fact, as highly reported, 84 Lumber was asked by network Fox to rework their ad before showtime. Wow. What’s a company to do?
I’m torn – if a concept is solid enough to be produced in the first place and slotted to air, how can a company walk away from that core belief? On the other hand, it’s a tightrope to walk, especially for the little guys. Anheuser-Busch probably can afford a misstep here and there but for modest King’s Hawaiian, they probably can’t.
I must say that in my more than 25 years of public relations experience I have never been asked to revise a campaign based on the political landscape. Yes, I have been asked to move dates around to accommodate unforeseen world events and adjust messages accordingly but not dump a campaign entirely. I can’t imagine the conversations around the conference table leading-up to those decisions. 84 Lumber seems to have found a solution though by revamping the ad for the Super Bowl as mandated but also offering the entire commercial, as originally filmed, on their website.
At the end of the day, I say give customers the benefit of the doubt. We are smart, informed consumers, let us make the final call – our wallets speak loudly. And for the record, I’ll take a meaningful message (such as ones from Audi, airbnb, Honda CR-V, Coca-Cola, and Hyundai) over stupid humor (really too many to name) any day.