Pennsylvania-based 84 Lumber surprised quite a few observers this month when it announced plans to spend several million dollars on a 90-second ad set to air before halftime of Super Bowl LI.
Yet, according to a report published by Campaign on Tuesday, Fox Sports declined to run the first version of the ad submitted by 84 Lumber and its agency partner Brunner. Sources claimed the initial creative summary included a wall preventing would-be employees from crossing an unspecified border, thereby mirroring President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a physical barrier between the U.S. and Mexico.
UPDATE: The day after this story first ran, agency CEO Michael Brunner confirmed the initial reports regarding the 84 Lumber campaign.
“Fox rejected our original commercial because they determined that some of the imagery, including ‘the wall’ would be too controversial,” Brunner said in a statement. “So we went back and revised the spot to make it acceptable to them.”
He continued: “84 Lumber challenged us to create a thought-provoking 90 second spot that would tell the world who 84 Lumber is and what they stand for—a company looking for people with grit, determination and heart, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they look like. And while that full story will no longer be told on TV at the Super Bowl, we all believe too strongly in that message to leave it on the editing room floor. So we are going to launch it during the Super Bowl and make the full story available online.”
“This is a big platform where we can tell an important story,” said Brunner vp and head of public relations Steve Radick in response to Adweek’s initial query. “And so throughout this entire process, we’ve been working closely with both the client and Fox to think through a number of different ideas. Some have gone further than others, and we’re continuing to explore all of our options.”
The brand’s press release indicated that its Super Bowl ad will target “entrepreneurial” men aged 20 to 29 and promote the company’s management training program. According to past statements from the agency, it will specifically target those without college degrees or managerial experience.
Some observers read a political subtext into a concept announced several weeks after Trump’s surprising win in the presidential election that was fueled in large part by blue collar voters in areas like Western Pennsylvania, the home of 84 Lumber.
A Fox Sports representative declined to comment, and 84 Lumber’s marketing department did not respond to a phone call regarding the campaign.
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