Whether having this year’s Super Bowl in Houston is fortuitous or tragic likely depends on point of view. The city itself is unique when it comes to the politics of immigration and, for better or worse that’s the topic du jour for now.
At any rate, politics, refugees and a volatile political climate are all coming together in a city known for its diversity.
Refugees Thrive In Houston
Houston, Texas is only 50% white. It has the most refugees of any city in the U.S. Against that backdrop President Donald Trump’s executive order fell Friday. Thanks to the big game, the national media was already there. As protesters filled the international arrivals terminal, widespread coverage was going to be a given. All this in a city where 200,000 Vietnamese refugees settled in the 1970s.
Sara Kaufmann, area director for Refugee Services of Texas said, "We have, I think, 28 percent foreign-born citizens, so we have people from all over the world already.” The city’s robust economy and low cost of living provides plenty of opportunity for refugees, many of whom start out with service jobs.
Some Ads Could Alienate
With protests in full swing, major corporations that have spent millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads have had to decide how political to be. Obviously none want to alienate half their potential audience.
This is especially true for Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (NYSE:BUDC) which already has a 60-second ad about founder, Adolphus Busch, and his migration from Germany to St. Louis in 1857. According to the ad, Anheuser-Busch stands “for those people that have a dream and work very hard until they make the dream come true.”
Others More Cautious
GoDaddy Inc. (:GDDYN/A) has an ad that includes iconic internet memes. The company considered, but self-rejected a takeoff on tweets from Donald Trump’s Twitter account. GoDaddy chief marketing officer, Barb Rechterman said, “We didn’t want to add to what is an already politically-charged, divisive climate.”
Social issues have been the bread and butter of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE: FCAU) Super Bowl ads. The company has not yet disclosed the theme of this year’s ad. One Fiat idea that apparently will not run during this year’s big game is a message taken from Bruce Springsteen’s book, “Born to Run.”
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How Political Will Ads Be?
The country is sharply divided over the presidency of Donald Trump. Brands that might have taken a walk on the wild side in the past, may pull back now for fear of pushing potential customers away.
Budweiser’s ad is an example of one that could be very popular or could anger enough people to be ineffective. Given the fact the ad features crowds shouting, “You’re not wanted here,” it could easily go either way.
Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTCB) has an ad featuring New England Patriot’s quarterback, Tom Brady as an everyday kind of regular guy. Unfortunately for Brady and for Intel, Brady’s longtime friendship with Donald Trump could be seen as a negative – or a positive – again, depending on point of view.