Full disclosure: I didn’t watch the Oscars, but I watched the commercials. I’m glad I did it this way because there are some great commercials that are getting lost in the kerfuffle surrounding La La Land and Moonlight’s Best Picture snafu. The New York Times, Cadillac, Hyatt, and more turned their advertising into activism and raised awareness about causes that they care about.
One of our favorite ads during the Oscars had to be the New York Times commercial. Simple yet powerful, the commercial depicts a plain white background with the words “The truth is.” Various endings to that start follow, like “women’s rights are human rights” and “we have to protect our borders.” The advertisement ends with the words, “The truth is hard to find. The truth is more important now than ever.” It’s a simple premise that carries a powerful impact.
My second favorite advertisement is Zachary Quinto reading George Orwell’s 1984. The commercial advertises Audible, although with the choice of content, it could just as easily be an ad for anti-intellectualism, political manipulation, and anti-fear mongering. Specifically, Quinto reads the passage talking about how foreigners are not very different from you and me. It’s hard not to view this as a political message.
Another favorite commercial comes from Cadillac. Cadillac’s tone carries a much more uplifting theme than most of the other examples. Some might even say that Cadillac’s messaging criticizes organizations like the New York Times. The advertisement starts out in black and white and shows police squaring off against protesters, while the narrator says, “We are a nation divided. That’s what they tell us, right?” Then the commercial shifts to uplifting clips about people helping others. The narrator continues: “We carry each other forward no matter who we are or what we believe or where we come from.” Not a single car is shown in the ad, which is especially weird for a car commercial, but the message rings true.
There are more than a few people that claim that these large companies could care less about the political climate in America and that they are exploiting the sentiment of their audience. Saturday Night Live even touched on this criticism with a segment recently involving a pitch for a fictional Cheetos’ ad. While some of this criticism may be accurate, we also think brands should be allowed to share their thoughts on the current social climate. After all, if we define a corporation legally as a person, than they have access to free speech like the rest of us.
Furthermore, we like it when companies get involved in causes they care about. After all, 2930 Creative has had charity and giving back as a core principle since our founding. We took that a step further when we worked with Extra Life and we look forward to helping out even more companies with causes that they care about. We recently began working with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). We believe that advertising can be responsible with its messaging and do good beyond just sales!
Josh Duke is 2930 Creative’s director of content and totally thinks that MoonlalaLand was the best picture of 2016.