One of the most controversial and polarizing ads made to air during the Super Bowl wasn’t meant to be controversial or polarizing at all, according to the company’s CEO.
The ad, which aired in full only on the company’s website after it was deemed too politically charged by Fox, inspired both cheers and jeers on social media due to its depiction of a mammoth border wall not unlike the one President Donald Trump has proposed.
“My intent was to show . . . that through struggles we will do anything we possibly can to make [the world] a better place for our children,” 84 Lumber’s CEO Maggie Hardy Magerko told People magazine after the company’s spot, which depicts a Mexican mother and daughter embarking on a journey to cross into the United States, aired on Sunday.
Trump supporters largely got a negative impression from the ad, with some threatening to boycott the family-owned business that sells lumber and other building materials. Others applauded what they saw as a critique of the wall, as well as Trump’s overall crackdown on immigration in light of his recent executive order calling for a temporary ban.
Hardy Magerko, meanwhile, clarified to People this week that she supports Trump and believes his border wall “is a need.”
“We need to keep America safe,” the 51-year-old told the magazine. “America needs to be safe so you and I can have the liberty to talk . . . The wall, I think it represents, to me, security. I like security. . . . If I thought the wall was negative, I wouldn’t have had the wall.”
Hardy Magerko’s personal beliefs regarding the wall and immigration policy, however, were a non-factor in creating the ad, the CEO said.
“This came from the heart . . . ,” she told People. “It’s not about me or my beliefs or the wall, it’s about individuals . . . treating people with dignity and respect.”
That supposed apolitical intent of the ad, however, didn’t appear to resonate fully with the network that aired the Super Bowl on Sunday. When the company submitted the spot it made with Pittsburgh’s Brunner ad agency last month, Fox rejected it.
“Fox would not let us air ‘the wall,’ ” Bruner’s chief client officer Rob Schapiro told The Post last week.
“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, she “understood their reasons.”
“. . .[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.
Called “The Journey Begins, the edited ad still begins with a Mexican woman and her daughter readying to travel to the United States, but gone is the wall. Instead, the ad ends with the pair holding hands while “See the conclusion at Journey84.com” appears across the screen.
So many people wanted to see the conclusion of the spot that 84 Lumber’s website crashed. Those who were able to see the site, though, were able to watch the full six-minute spot that shows the controversial border wall.
“We all felt too strongly about the message to leave it on the editing room floor,” Smiley said.
As to what that message is exactly, Hardy Magerko told People it’s “in the eyes of the beholder.”
Schapiro, meanwhile, had a more concrete idea in mind.
“Our message is that America is the land of opportunity and 84 Lumber is the company of opportunity,” he said, noting that while pushing a political message may not have been the ad’s intent, it certainly didn’t shy away from the discussion.
“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,” Schapiro said. “If everyone else is trying to avoid controversy, isn’t that the time when brands should take a stand for what they believe in?”
(The Washington Post)