84 Lumber Nails Commercial Storytelling

One of the most popular Sundays of the year has come and gone, and with it came the first overtime in Super Bowl history, one of the greatest comebacks EVER in Super Bowl history, and then as always, some memorable Super Bowl commercials.

This year, most of the commercials that made a significant impact were surrounding controversial topics like diversity, immigration, and equal pay. Naturally after an election cycle like the one we had, it would make sense these were the ones that struck a chord with the audience and essentially added “fuel to the fire.”

The commercial that will be highlighted here is 84 Lumber’s titled, “The Journey Begins.”

84 Lumber is a private supplier in Pennsylvania for building materials, and this year was the first time it ran a Super Bowl commercial before the halftime show. The commercial was a minute and a half long and follows a mother and daughter duo traveling through Mexico to get to the United States. It was originally suppose to end on air with the pair getting to “the wall” President Trump has discussed building between the two borders, first discouraged but then hopeful as they find a door to get through and the phrase “The will to succeed is always welcome here.

The company stated that it was “forced to change its plans” after Fox deemed it “too controversial.” So an edited version aired ending with a call to action to check out the full journey on their website. (Sources for this information: here and here.)

I believe it was a wise choice for Fox and the N.F.L. to avoid the political controversy or upset the Trump administration. They also maintain the right to not approve any ad, and choosing to not come off as a station or organization that supports or advocates against an issue is the best choice this soon into the new presidency.

To check out 84 Lumber’s full video, click here.

I was attracted this commercial personally and as a PR professional for its beautiful storytelling aspect. The era of just “showcasing a product’s or company’s benefits” are over, and the age of “companies telling stories through their brand and products” has taken over. Look at one of the companies doing this concept best, Coca-Cola. Their ads aren’t reflecting the idea of just “Coke is a great drink,” it showcases the memories and STORIES people can associate with Coke. 84 Lumber has taken this idea of “branding as storytelling” and just put their name on the map with this commercial.

This year of Super Bowl commercials has made it clear already the idea of branding as storytelling is in full force…but now I can see it potentially shifting a new way these next four years: storytelling of controversial messages from brands. This concept could either put a company on the map like 84 Lumber, or it could backfire and cause a company to lose trust and receive negative comments back from the public. We’ll have to see what happens,  especially the next few months, with how this new approach to storytelling will affect brand’s messaging in the media.


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