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 Trump has proposed.
“The intent of the Super Bowl commercial … was to show that 84 Lumber is a company of opportunity,” the company’s CEO Maggie Hardy Magerko said in a statement provided to The Post about the ad that depicts a Mexican mother and daughter embarking on a journey to cross into the United States.
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, told People magazine week that she supports Trump and believes his border wall “is a need,” but she clarified to The Post that “if the President wants to build a wall, then we want to make sure there is a door in that wall — a door that’s open to those who choose to enter to our country legally.”
Hardy Magerko’s opinions regarding the wall and immigration policy, however, were a non-factor in creating the ad, the CEO said.
“[The ad] isn’t about my beliefs, who I voted for, or the wall,” the 51-year-old said. “It’s about highlighting the characteristics of a person that will go to great lengths for a new opportunity.”
“The journey of the mother and daughter was a demonstration of the human spirit — grit, determination and hard work,” she continued. “These characteristics represent what makes 84 Lumber and our country great. We want people that embody those characteristics, no matter where you’re from. If that’s you, our door is open.”
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, referring to the message of opportunity.
While pushing a political viewpoint 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?”
This post has been updated.
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