A few choice ads this Superbowl weekend showed brands behaving like citizens, moved to exercise the most democratic thing they own: their voices. Like so many pink-hatted marchers, those feeling unheard in recent weeks chose the most expensive, most eyeballed minutes available to deepen their communities. And I loved every minute of it.
In our living room (population: 4 lefties), these timely spots made possible timely discussion points in a way that longer-form journalism has trouble doing, at least for us. It’s rare that we’re in one room with only one screen going, so I leapt at the chance to sneak in the vegetables of a mini ethics lesson after the Air BnB spot. Once the site uncrashed, we watched the back half of 84 Lumber together and answered the kids’ questions. Is there really a wall? Is it that high? Are there actually doors?
Some were subtler, like Jon Hamm promising “money in the pockets of every American” via that four-letter word taxes. Planet Fitness spun its strategy to promise “the world judges; we don’t.” Even the NFL itself–long criticized for shushing some of its members’ most repugnant behavior–got on the inclusivity bandwagon “inside these lines.” Some didn’t exactly take the high road (It’s a 10 Hair, I’m looking at you). But it was a clear marriage of product and politics, promising the rebellious experience of having that gel in your medicine cabinet.
Homophily is a persuasion tool we wield often at Karma. The tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others builds equity around ideas instead of things. It’s a brand’s easiest connection to a changed mind, a new customer or a deepened loyalty, and always reminds me of Maya Angelou’s insight that “people will never forget how you made them feel.”
My favorite part? The trio of Hamilton stars, improv-ing “…and sisterhood” into America the Beautiful. Just right, and just enough.
Perhaps that’s the reaction of this liberal creative director: that all communication, particularly the loud kind, comes with the responsibility to say something.
Tracy Thompson is a creative director at Karma and ate all the chili.