Super Bowl LII commercials tout diversity but keep it light

Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

The brigade of commercials for NBC's Sunday telecast of Super Bowl LII trod gently on political issues and went for heartstrings and easy laughs.

The mostly uplifting tone of the spots is a sign advertisers believed that viewers of TV's most-watched event of the year needed a break from the partisan rancor in public discourse during the first year of the Trump presidency.

The political divisiveness spilled into the NFL season as President Donald Trump has been strident in his criticism of players who knelt during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality. The on-field controversy has been cited as a factor in declining TV ratings for NFL contests this season.

There was no sign of such protests before the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl title over the favored New England Patriots by a score of 41-33 in Minneapolis.

The only commercial that alluded to the conflict was an ad for Blacture, a new website for black culture. The start-up's spot showed Fugees co-founder Pras, a partner in the venture, standing on the stage of an empty theater and removing black tape that covered his mouth.

But, overall, there were no commercials approaching the overt political messages about immigration and women's empowerment that viewers saw last year in the months after the presidential election.

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"It was a much more upbeat commercial atmosphere than last year," said Chris Chase, an attorney for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz who represented some of the advertisers buying time in the game.

Diversity messages during TV's biggest ad showcase were celebratory in nature. T-Mobile's "Change starts now" ad used a continuous shot of cute babies. Kraft offered up photos -- submitted by viewers during the game -- that showed an array of gay parents, straight couples and single dads of all races topped with the line "there is no one right way to family." Coca-Cola served up a colorful montage of diverse couples and young people.

A Stella Artois spot making a pitch for Matt Damon's clean water initiative was the only blatant issue-oriented play -- hardly controversial.

Building supply manufacturer Weather Tech offered the closest thing to a Trump-like populist message. It showed footage of a plant being built followed by the tagline: "At Weather Tech, we built our factory to be right here in America. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?"


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