In the race for Super Bowl ad spots, 84 Lumber was the first to snag a 90-second slot last month.
The Pennsylvania-based building materials company has been working with Pittsburgh agency Brunner to create an ad that would fit owner and president Maggie Hardy Magerko’s hope of recruiting new talent and building brand awareness as 84 Lumber expands its national presence.
“Our industry is going through a period of extreme disruption. And I’ve always preferred to be the one doing the disrupting, rather than the one being disrupted,” Hardy Magerko said in a statement. “But to do that, we need to hire and train people differently. We need to cast a wider net, and to let the world know that 84 Lumber is a place for people who don’t always fit nicely into a box.”
84 Lumber spent $15 million on the spot, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported. But in mid-January, Fox reportedly rejected 84 Lumber’s initial storyline because of political imagery. The proposed ad would depict a large wall that seemed similar to President Donald Trump’s promised border wall, according to Ad Age.
“We knew they had concerns,” said Amy Smiley, director of marketing for 84 Lumber. “They ultimately told us they weren’t going to approve, and we understood that.”
Maggie Hardy Magerko, 84 Lumber’s president and owner, told the New York Times she couldn’t understand why it was censored. “I’m flabbergasted by that in today’s day and age. It’s not pornographic, it’s not immoral, it’s not racist.”
Magerko said the ad was designed to recruit younger employees who “really believe in American dreams,” she told the Times.
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The company created a new ad to air in its pre-halftime slot, but still plans to release the original commercial online on Feb. 5, in addition to some extra content.
“We really believe in the message behind the spot so strongly, and we didn’t want to leave it on the editing room floor,” Smiley said.
She did not give away details about the final message, postponing the big reveal until Sunday. The on-air commercial will include a link where viewers can watch “part two” as well as the full extended version of the commercial, Smiley said.
In a recent faculty newsletter at the University of Maryland, Henry C. Boyd III, marketing professor in the Robert H. Smith School of Business, analyzed 84 Lumber’s strategy. Boyd said it’s not uncommon for brands to push the envelope with Super Bowl ads to get some extra publicity out of the expensive buy.
But, Boyd said, it’s a “dangerous game” for 84 Lumber to involve politics, especially in the current divisive climate.
“From the standpoint of business, you can be thought-provoking and edgy,” he said. “But the stakes are different and give more reason to stay within safer confines.”
The company has aggressive expansion plans for 2017, Smiley said, and is expecting to open 20 new locations primarily in the western part of the country. The company already has 250 locations and was named one of Forbes’ Largest Private Companies in America in 2016. 84 Lumber decided to purchase its first Super Bowl ad this year to increase recruitment and national brand awareness as the business expands.
‘The overall message behind the ad spot is this is who we are and this is what we stand for. We want people to join us,” Smiley said. “We believe in an honest day’s work and we’re looking for people who share that mentality.”