84 Lumber’s Irresponsible Border Crossing Ad
Capitalizing on political controversy, company glorifies lawbreaking journey that has killed thousands
The winner of this year’s award for most appalling political stunt at the Super Bowl goes not to a performer or celebrity but an ad — produced for 84 Lumber.
The construction-supply company aired a 90-second ad featuring a Mexican mother and her daughter making a trek toward the United States. The TV version of the ad ends abruptly with an invitation for viewers to see how the journey ends online.
Human smugglers often take advantage of desperate Mexicans and Central Americans looking for a better life.
The full version of the ad shows the hardships of the journey — from the moment the girl accepts a piece of candy from her grandfather before leaving with her mother to their arrival at the U.S.-Mexican border.
In between, the duo brave water and desert, hop a train, walk through small villages, and risk dehydration.
Finally, they make it, only to find a wall standing between them and the American dream.
As if the heart-tugging music were not enough, the girl reaches into her backpack and retrieves a tattered American flag.
Then the kicker.
Around a bend is a large door.
Tagline: "The Will to Succeed Is Always Welcome Here."
The buzz surrounding the ad only intensified when Fox, which aired the Super Bowl, rejected the original version as too political.
Rob Schapiro, chief creative officer of 84 Lumber's ad agency, Brunner, told Business Insider the ad intended to make a "patriotic" statement. He said the message was that America is a land of opportunity and 84 Lumber is a company of opportunity.
"With this expansion will come an ongoing recruitment campaign, and on this journey we depicted characters who embody the traits and characteristics they are looking for in their people: strong will, determination, and hardworking people," he told the online publication.
Notwithstanding the not-so-subtle jab at President Donald Trump — who, himself, has said his border wall would have a beautiful door for legal immigration — the ad could be seen as encouraging an activity that has proved deadly.
Human smugglers often take advantage of desperate Mexicans and Central Americans looking for a better life. Those who attempt the journey on their own face danger from heat stroke, dehydration, and hyperthermia. According to Customs and Border Protection statistics, 6,915 people have died along the southwest border since fiscal year 1998. Plenty die on the Mexican side as well, Mexican authorities pegged the number at 1,422 during one five-year period from 1996 through 2000.
Of course, none of that matters to a company wanting to use the megaphone of the Super Bowl to make a political statement and bring attention on itself.