The 84 Lumber Super Bowl ad’s creative director explains the thinking behind the Mexican immigration-themed spot

84 lumber
84 Lumber’s Super Bowl TV ad. 84 Lumber/YouTube

84 Lumber just aired its immigration-themed Super Bowl ad, plus the conclusion of the ad’s story on its website, which the construction-supply company billed as “too controversial for TV.”

The 90-second ad that aired on TV during the Super Bowl depicted a Mexican a Mexican mother and daughter embarking on an arduous journey, seemingly to leave their country of origin and find a better life in the US.

The ad then invited viewers to watch the conclusion of the ad online. However, the dedicated website appeared to be down during the game with the rush of people looking to find out how the ad ends.

84 Lumber said last month the first cut of its ad was rejected by Super Bowl broadcaster Fox for being too political. The ad had featured a “wall” blocking people from looking for work in the US. The wall will appear in the digital version.

Rob Schapiro, chief creative officer of 84 Lumber’s ad agency Brunner, told Business Insider the ad intended to make a “patriotic” statement as aimed to make the company a household name throughout the country as it expands and opens more stores in the US.

Schapiro said: “[The message behind the ad] is that in this great land of opportunity, 84 Lumber is a compay of opportunity. With this expansion will come an ongoing recruitment campaign, and on this journey we depicted characters who embody the traits and characteristics they are looking for  in their people: strong will, determination, and hard-working people.”

The choice to depict Mexican characters was deliberate. It is widely-known that US President Donald Trump has taken a hard line on immigration and is seeking to build a US-Mexico border wall.

Schapiro said: “This is a conversation that’s taking place in homes across America and so 84 Lumber was willing to be part of that conversation, to be relevant and timely … in Part Two [of the ad] you will see what a beacon of light America is, not just within America but beyond to other countries. We are that beacon of light for people for finding success from hard work and making a contribution.”

84 Lumber is not the only brand covering the theme of immigration during the Super Bowl this year. Budweiser is airing a 60-second ad that follows Anheuser-Busch cofounder Adolphus Busch‘s difficult journey from Germany to the US in the mid-1800s — including some of the prejudice he encountered before he went on to create what is now the world’s largest brewer.

Budweiser said it wasn’t intending to make a political statement with the ad, but that hasn’t stopped some people threatening to boycott the brand.

Schapiro said 84 Lumber is prepared for a strong, negative reaction to its ad: “There are always different points of view and the brand respects those points of view and understands not everyone is going to agree on every issue.”

The initial creative 84 Lumber submitted to Fox was barred from broadcast because it depicted a wall, which was deemed too controversial. “Several [advertising] industry veterans,” who spoke to Adweek earlier this month speculated that 84 Lumber and Brunner deliberately submitted an ad that would be rejected to build up the PR momentum before game day — not least because the ad is being delivered in two parts, meaning production would have needed to begin long before Fox rejected the spot.

Schapiro dismissed that theory. He said: “Our aim was to tell an authentic story and not to engage in a marketing stunt.”

Market research agency BrainJuicer carried out consumer tests of 84 Lumber’s Super Bowl TV ad when it was first revealed earlier this month. 80 consumers were invited to give their feedback on February 3, via online survey tool ZappiStore. The ad scored just 1 Star on its 1-5 Star scale (From “straight to video” to “blockbuster”), largely owing to the fact that the storyline doesn’t reach a conclusion.

Alex Hunt, BrainJuicer Americas president, said: “Building fame is a critical step for smaller brands to accelerate market share and what better way to make Lumber84 famous than via Super Bowl advertising. Yet a word of caution, its imperative that in building reach smaller brands keep the feeling that made their core constituents love them alive, Super Bowl audiences have historically not been kind to political nor exclusively negative creative.”

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