Madison Ave Takes on Trump: Could 'Diversity Bowl' Mean That Hate Is No Longer Winning?
If you thought the divisive blowhard with the orange hair and bloated ego would loom large during this year's Super Bowl, you'd be wrong. In fact, the most horrible person alive wasn't referenced even once during the parade of multimillion-dollar commercial spots — maybe because we're all sick of him, maybe because we've finally come to realize that the best way to deal with a pathetic bully and attention whore is to ignore him, and maybe, most vitally, his brand of proud racism, xenophobia and sexism is no longer to be tolerated, and the biggest advertisers in the world aren't afraid to say so. As CNN's Chris Cillizza writes: "The calculation was clearly made by several different ad agencies — and the corporations who hired them — that using their 30 seconds or one minute to provide a check on the vision of the country pushed by Trump was the way to go. That there are enough consumers in the country who flatly reject the way in which Trump sees and talks about the country to make it financially worth the companies' time to hang an ad on that sentiment." When I first saw the ads last night from Coke, T-Mobile and Kraft (see video above), I have to say, I thought they were a pretty sappy (and safe) effort from a creative point of view. (Toyota's take on the old "a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar" trope was a clever exception.) But seeing them fresh, and considering them collectively and through Cillizza's sharply focused lens, it occurs to me that it did take nerve for these advertisers to so boldly embrace multiculturalism — which is a seriously depressing sentence to have to write in the year 2018, but also a hopeful one, in that maybe it means that the tide is turning. This was "The Diversity Bowl" at a time of extreme antipathy (that's the nice term) toward anything or anyone "different" in this country, where the American public is being divided, bamboozled, gaslighted and scared shitless on a daily basis. You can only be so full of anger and bluster — before long, even the most spiteful among us must get exhausted from all that hate. It's a far cry from last year, when the CEO of 84 Lumber felt compelled to clarify that its terrific, and obviously anti-Trump, commercial in the Super Bowl was not, in fact, meant to be political — effectively yanking the fangs out of what was a ballsy, righteous statement. So far this time around, though, the world's most powerful consumer brands and their partners on Madison Avenue aren't backing down. They don't have to. Reasonable people of every persuasion — cultural, political, whatever — seem to have grown pretty weary of the hostility.