Here's a riddle: What do the Oscars and the Super Bowl have in common? No, I'm not talking about the star-studded performances or the intense competition. Instead, I'm referring to the commercials with strong political messages. The big game didn't shy away from making charged statements this year, which was inspiring to witness. And, on Sunday night, the commercials at the 2017 Oscars weren't afraid to get political either. But they did so with tact. Instead of making below-the-belt digs about President Trump's administration, the ads during the Academy Awards spread messages focused on love and truth — and that's infinitely more powerful that ones of hatred or mockery.
Politics were a topic of conversation during acceptance speeches, and the commercial breaks were anything but a break from that sentiment. Hyatt's Oscars ad was called "For A World Of Understanding" and promoted the idea of unity in an otherwise troubling time. While Trump is bragging about building a wall on the Mexican border and trying to temporarily ban refugees from entering the country, Hyatt's ad is all about bringing people together.
Meanwhile, the "failing" New York Times, as the president has come to call the newspaper, promoted the importance of free speech and truth during their 30-second ad. As I watched the words, "The truth is more important now than ever," flash across the screen, I felt chills. The fact that the Times isn't afraid to keep pushing the truth and spreading real — not alternative — facts is something that makes me proud to be a journalist.
The New York Times has a new marketing campaign: "The truth is more important now than ever." pic.twitter.com/jWJTeB0pdW— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 27, 2017
While advertisers could have played it safe, especially on a night that's guaranteed to have millions of viewers, they chose to use their platforms to get valuable messages out there. Messages that reject the idea of division, opposition, or hate. The song that Andra Day sings in the Hyatt ad, "What The World Needs Now Is Love," could not be more relevant.
Similarly, Cadillac also didn't shy away from making a statement. The car company aired an advertisement called "Carry," centering on the idea of supporting one another and carrying each other forward. At one point, the compelling commercial shows a poster that reads, "Love not hate." I don't think the message could get any clearer, especially as the narrator says, "While we're not the same, we can be one." Instead of ostracizing others, this ad is all about the beauty in our differences and the strength in togetherness.
An equally strong message came from Audible on Oscars night. Their ad featured Zachary Quinto sharing a passage of George Orwell's 1984. The actor reads, "If he were allowed contact with foreigners, he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies." As Audible writes in their own tweet, these words are "timeless—and timely," and I can't help but think Orwell's "he" could be a fitting description for our own leader. Especially given Trump's aforementioned plans regarding walls and temporary bans.
Here's to hoping more companies follow suit in the coming months. Taking a stance — especially one that promotes tolerance and justice — shouldn't alienate a company. If anything, it just makes them all the more admirable. If the Oscars gave out a little gold statue for best ad, it'd easily be a tie among all of the above; they're the night's true winners.