By Joseph Hammond
Americans don’t like to mix politics and the Super Bowl, according to a new report.
Although Americans are looking forward to the Super Bowl ads almost as much as the Feb. 3 battled between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots, they do not want to see partisan attacks along with the jarring tackles.
This is true not only for older viewers, but younger ones who are often portrayed in the media as being especially socially conscious.
“The biggest disconnect between the general public and [advertising] agencies and companies is this idea that you have to take stands to win Gen Z or millennial. That’s not what the data shows” said Morning Consult CEO Michael Ramlet, whose company produced the report
A Morning Consult poll of 2,201 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 3-5 found that almost two-thirds of Americans don’t think political ads have any place at the Super Bowl. Almost two-thirds of Americans believe the Super Bowl is not the place for companies to make political statements. Only 20 percent think it is in appropriate. Democrats (57 percent) are less likely to feel this way than Republicans (80 percent).
Delivering the right message is especially important as a 30-second ad during this year’s game will cost about $5 million.
Following Donald Trump’s election in 2016, many Super Bowl ads run during last year’s game had political overtones. An advertisement for 84 Lumber ad seemed to criticize the president’s immigration policies by featuring a border wall and immigrants. A Budweiser ad took a similar tack, showing the beer’s 19th-century creator, Adolphus Busch, immigrating to the United States, in an account that historians have pointed out is largely inaccurate.
In other Super Bowl ads run last year, a cellphone company trumpeted the need for equality while a Ram Trucks commercial used a sermon by Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote the value of service.
The Morning Consult poll found other evidence that politics and sports don’t mix. While the poll found that the football is America’s favorite team sport, it is reported that the NFL has the highest unfavorable rating of any professional league. Some 27 percent of Americans have either an unfavorable or very unfavorable view of the league – much higher than the combined unfavorable ratings for Major League Baseball (12 percent), the NBA (20 percent) the NHL (15 percent) or the MLS (18 percent).
The finding likely reflects a number of controversies surrounding the NFL in recent years. Most notably the controversy surrounding former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and several other players who refused to stand for the National Anthem.
Nevertheless, the NFL saw its TV viewership rise 5 percent this year, following two years of decline attributed in large part to political controversies.
Off the field violence by players is another issue that has brought negative attention to the league. This includes the murder conviction of New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez and a video-tape showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his fiancée in a hotel elevator.
Controversy’s involving concussions and steroid use maybe leading less Americans to play the sport in high school according to statistics released last year.
Those concerns shouldn’t keep fans away from the Super Bowl however which is expected to again be the most watched event in the United States this year.
The full report can be read here.
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