84 Lumber’s Game Of Two Halves ‘Journey’ Spot Is A Spectacular Super Bowl Statement

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Pennsylvania building materials supplier 84 Lumber is not known as a major US TV advertiser and yet this year it decided to invest in a societal statement, brand-values spot on the biggest American stage of all – the Super Bowl


A 90-second Big Game commercial – in a year that saw Fox charging around $5m for 30-seconds – is a huge move for any brand (even one with a $2.5bn a year revenue like 84 Lumber) and one with a pro-immigration script based on Trump’s Mexican Wall is a huge risk.


It certainly looked that way when the commercial was rejected by Super Bowl broadcaster Fox for being too controversial: nerves must have been jangling amongst its marketing team, its agency Banner and at board level too.


But the braver decision-makers at the brand stayed true to its original values and vision and got around the Fox ban by simply splitting its film in two: showing half during the game (footage that Fox would allow) and the other half online immediately afterwards.


After the whirlwind PR coverage surrounding the banning of the spot by broadcaster Fox, the brand leveraged industry and consumer interest in just what it would do next with intriguing social media teasers rolling out from late January.







The brand played on the ad’s ban: for example, its home page carries the copy ‘Complete The Journey: Contains content deemed to controversial for TV’


Before releasing Part 1 of the cut-in-two commercial on digital and social channels on 2 February,



before it aired in the Super Bowl itself during half-time.


The Big Game half-ad then channelled viewers to the full, un-cut commercial on its YouTube channel



and on its other platforms like Twitter.



The full spot is a yearning, moving meditation on the American Dream seen through the eyes of a migrant mother and child on the other side of the Mexican border.


The full film ends with the tagline: ‘The will to succeed is always welcome here’ and the spot was supported by a final ‘statement’ tweet.



The assets all drove viewers online to the brand’s website to ‘Learn more about opportunities with 84 Lumber at http://www.journey84.com/


As with any spot like this, one bound to generate controversy amidst the US political maelstrom, the brand’s social media team was on-hand to continue the conversation (and both the positive and negative comments) online in real-time through the game.



Activative Comment:


What a spot – full of emotion, defiance and risk.


There have been several stand-out serious Super Bowl spots making political statements amidst the current US political turmoil – such as AirBnB, Audi and Budweiser (and one less serious, but political all the same from ‘It’s a 10’) – but surely this is the most fascinating ad story of Super Bowl 51!


It’s not just the 2,569,945 YouTube views in 5 hours, but the fact that interest in the brand after the ad aired was so high that it crashed the 84 Lumber home page.


There were, unsurprisingly, reactive negative social posts of the #Ban84Lumber type: but in the current climate it has become expected any time anyone puts their head above the parapet.


Is #BanBrandX the new marketing norm?



Whether the brand’s website was overwhelmed by supporters or critics remains to be seen, but it certainly supports ad industry opinion that this was the biggest Super Bowl spot story of 2017.




84 Lumber









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