Perhaps more than any other time in history, politics appear to be playing a larger role than ever in the Super Bowl. Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Trump in an interview that aired before the game; former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, did the coin toss; and some of the ads have tackled controversial social issues such as immigration.
One such ad was imagined by the family-owned company 84 Lumber, which decided to tackle the subject in its first Super Bowl ad. It wasn’t exactly how the company originally planned it, however.
In the ad’s initial iteration, a Mexican mother and daughter, who appear to be on their way to the United States, come across a depiction of an imposing border wall, reminiscent of the one Trump has touted will eventually divide the country from Mexico.
“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,” said Rob Shapiro, the chief client officer at Brunner, the agency that worked with 84 Lumber to come up with the ad. “If everyone else is trying to avoid controversy, isn’t that the time when brands should take a stand for what they believe in?”
But while 84 Lumber believed in its message, Fox, which aired Sunday’s game, thought it was a little too controversial.
“Fox would not let us air ‘the wall,’ ” Schapiro said.
“Of course we were disappointed,” added Amy Smiley, 84 Lumber’s director of marketing. “But ultimately, it’s their network and their decision.”
Smiley said Fox expressed “concerns about some of the elements” in the initial spot and so when the network ultimately rejected the ad last month, she ” understood their reasons.”
Smiley said current events played a role in the ad’s rejection, especially all the talk about Trump’s proposed wall.
“. . .[T]he conversation in the media exploded around this topic, and it evolved into something controversial that made Fox a little too uncomfortable,” she said.
Fox did not return The Post’s request to comment.
Ultimately, 84 Lumber and Brunner came up with an edit that Fox finally approved and aired on Sunday. Gone is the wall, replaced by a less imposing barbed-wire fence at what appears to be the border.
Called “The Journey Begins,” the ad depicts a Mexican woman and her daughter readying to travel to the United States. Under the old version, the two arrive at the border wall, where their quest appears to end in a cliffhanger.
In the new ending, the mother and daughter are shown holding hands while “See the conclusion at Journey84.com” appears across the screen.
Viewers who go to the website won’t just find the conclusion to the pair’s journey, but also the original, rejected ad.
“We all felt too strongly about the message to leave it on the editing room floor,” Smiley said.
“The commercial that will air during the Super Bowl does not have the ending we originally wanted, but the message has not changed,” Schapiro said. “Our message is that America is the land of opportunity and 84 Lumber is the company of opportunity.”
84 Lumber’s Super Bowl ad centers on a mother and daughter traveling through Mexico. The second part of the story is on the company’s website, journey84.com. (84 Lumber)