` Every year, two football teams claw their way to the top of the NFL to tear each other to pieces on live television for our viewing pleasure. And every year, millions of Americans watch the game less for the actual football than because they want to see the commercials everyone will be talking about the next day.
Sometimes these exorbitantly expensive ads do little more than bombard us with celebrity cameos and anthropomorphized animals. But sometimes they’re more ambitious than that, and serve to capture a certain mood that exists within the country at large — see Apple mimicking George Orwell’s 1984 to sell cutting-edge software, or Budweiser targeting vulnerable heartstrings with Clydesdales kneeling at ground zero, or Army veterans returning home to drink Bud with their friends and family.
Many of Super Bowl 51’s commercials fell squarely into the latter camp. In fact, there were several ads that — despite undoubtedly being conceived and filmed months in advance — dripped with winking, even pointed subtext regarding the current US political climate.
So let’s take a look at this year’s game through the eyes of its commercials. Because it’s the Super Bowl and competition is the order of the day, we’ll be breaking things down by crowning some winners and pitying some losers.
Winner: patriotism through diversity
Before the game started, Hamilton’s Schuyler sisters — Jasmine Cephas-Jones, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Phillipa Soo — sang “America the Beautiful” and slipped in the word “sisterhood” right after “brotherhood” to resounding cheers.
At the time, this inclusive addition seemed like a pleasant surprise. But the commercials that aired throughout the game’s first quarter soon proved that an emphasis on #diversity and America needing to embrace people from all different backgrounds would be a theme of the evening.
Google showed people driving past rainbow pride flags, walking into their homes past hanging mezuzas, and making dinner with a photogenic group of multiethnic friends that would make any network sitcom proud.
Budweiser shared the story of Adolphus Busch, the German immigrant who made a harrowing journey to the United States to eventually co-found the Anheuser-Busch brewing company.