One Super Bowl commercial stood out above them all

America is polarized, and never was that more clear than during Super Bowl LI.

There were spots that made political points, and they mostly struck out with me. That’s the danger of such a spot: You’re going to alienate a big chunk of the populous. Sure, very few would disagree with the premise of Audi’s equal pay commercial, except for the fact that it felt super condescending and presumptive. Plus, Audi’s rocking an all-male board of directors.

Probably should have thought about that first before dipping the ol’ toes into the polarized waters of politicized Super Bowl advertising. Besides, the political subject du jour was immigration, and while I’m sure the companies scored points with certain folks, none of the ads did much for me. It’s a topic that’s far more nuanced than either side is considering publicly.

What did pique my interest were three ads from brands that may have caused some consumers to rethink them. The first was from SPAM, a Hormel product made in Minnesota. The spot told viewers to “Don’t Knock It” ’til you’ve fried it, and while on the surface it was just an ad for a processed pork product, I sensed somewhat of a brand’s sticking up for the common man, a sort of ode to a poorer, rural America.

A second ad that caught my fancy was another effort in brand re-imagination. It’s gotten mixed reviews, but I liked it as I am a man who enjoys cleaning. Kidding aside, the spot was an exercise in reinvention, and I think it worked — and I think we’ll see an uptick in men doing chores around the house, at least for the next week or two.

But for me, the hands-down best commercial of the Super Bowl and the one that went miles to alter my perception of the brand was Hyundai’s ad shot from a base in Poland, reuniting U.S. troops with their loved ones via video during the Super Bowl.

How they did it, I have no idea. What struck me, however, was that while several brands were wading into murky political waters with messages that surely wouldn’t resonate with at least 46% of the population, it was a company based in Seoul, South Korea, that understood the football-watching American audience better than anybody.

It was like watching several brands say, “We’re with them,” while Hyundai was saying “We’re with you.” I know there’s more to it than that, but it felt like Hyundai hit the right notes at the right time, and I suspect they won the business of a lot of Americans because of it.

FEATURED PHOTO is courtesy of Flickr contributor RobertG NL.

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