How Super Bowl LI Commercials Showed America Why Diversity & Inclusion Matters

by Jared Karol

In the past, most Super Bowl commercials did not make diversity or inclusion the main focus of its messaging. This is not surprising, but things are changing.

All together, there were nearly 50 brands with Super Bowl LI ad spots — ranging from funny to nostalgic to poignant to decidedly inclusive. Yes, decidedly, unapologetically, intentionally inclusive. More and more brands, it seems, are beginning to realize that celebrating inclusivity is both good for business and the right thing to do. This of course is great to see.

It’s essential that the 111 million viewers from all around the country (and beyond) see mainstream messages that amplify the importance of diverse communities and inclusive values — a true reflection of America. This is important to the people who see themselves and their experiences reflected in these ads, the people who support and fight for inclusion, and the people who don’t.

This on-going movement to actively remind Americans why diversity matters and validating everyone’s experience must continue. Seeing ample evidence of this in a huge national event like the Super Bowl is heartening and encouraging.

One example of explicit inclusive messaging came from Audi for America and their #DriveProgress campaign. In their “Daughter” Super Bowl ad, we hear the voiceover of a father musing on what he should tell his daughter about why men are valued and compensated more than women. On the screen, we see a young girl in a box-car racing against a bunch of boys; she is making better decisions, showing greater skill, and eventually she wins the race. The father concludes with, “Maybe I’ll be able to tell her something different.” On the screen come the words: “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work” and “Progress is for everyone.” Judging by the nearly 11 million views on YouTube, a lot of people agree.

Audi #DriveProgress “Daughter”

Coca-cola, in their “It’s Beautiful” ad, features the song “America the Beautiful” sung in different languages — a clear message of celebrating and embracing our multicultural society. This is an ad from a few years ago, but is very relevant today given the current political climate. By airing this ad in front of such a large, captive audience, Coca-cola is clearly saying that diversity and inclusion matter. We may never know the sincerity of an ad like this, but for Coca-cola to choose the inclusive side of a very politicized and very current issue in our country is welcoming.

There were other highlights as well. Airbnb’s #weaccept Super Bowl ad featured the different faces and cultures of its customers; Budweiser showed a powerful ad on the immigrant journey from Germany to America of its founder in its “Born the Hard Way” ad; Google Home used classic “show not tell” storytelling techniques to celebrate America’s diversity in its Google Home ad.

Super Bowl LI advertisers showed America why diversity and inclusion matters. Now, it’s up to us to continue the journey through inclusive action.

About Change Catalyst:

Change Catalyst empowers diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation — through education, community engagement and mentorship. Change Catalyst is a Certified B Corp, winning the “Best for the World”​ award for community impact in 2014 and “Best in the World”​ overall in 2015.

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