Super Bowl

Fox Rejects Super Bowl Ad That Depicts a Giant Border Wall

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84 Lumber is still planning to air its first Super Bowl spot, a 90-second extravaganza of a buy.
84 Lumber is still planning to air its first Super Bowl spot, a 90-second extravaganza of a buy. Credit: 84 Lumber
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Border walls and Super Bowl advertising don't mix, one family-owned construction supplies company seems to have learned.

After submitting its first-time Super Bowl ad to Fox for approval, 84 Lumber was sent back to the drawing board when the commercial was rejected, according to Michael Brunner, CEO of the agency behind the spot, Pittsburgh-based Bruner.

84 Lumber, based in Eighty Four, Penn., had planned to air a 90-second spot carrying a heavy message of job recruitment as it tries to ramp up its 5,100-employee base. The ad is slated to run before halftime at the Feb. 5 event.

But Fox said the original ad submitted, which included a depiction of a border wall that would undoubtedly remind viewers of Donald Trump's campaign promises, was too political, Mr. Brunner said Wednesday.

Though the whole incident may reek of a publicity stunt, Brunner insisted that 84 Lumber is still planning to air a 90-second spot in the game, which would carry an estimated price of $15 million for the airtime alone. That's a whopping amount even for Super Bowl regulars with enormous ad budgets. 84 Lumber has about $2.5 billion in sales, according to reports. Representatives from 84 Lumber did not return messages requesting comment.

"Fox rejected our original commercial because they determined that some of the imagery, including 'the wall' would be too controversial," Mr. Brunner said. "So we went back and revised the spot to make it acceptable to them." Fox approved the new version, he said.

Fox declined to comment.

84 Lumber will make the original, rejected ad available online on Feb. 5, the day before Super Bowl LI. While the "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," said Mr. Brunner.

Cole Webley, a director who has worked with brands such as Adidas and Samsung, is directing the commercial.

It's common practice for the Super Bowl's network to request that advertisers edit or revise their content to comply with a variety of standards, and just as common for marketers to seek a little extra publicity that way. One memorable case in 2013 concerned SodaStream specifically calling out competitors Coca Cola and Pepsi, also advertisers in the game. SodaStream tweaked its original concept to avoid naming names ("The SodaStream Effect").

In 2006, GoDaddy claimed ABC had rejected its creative 14 times before finally approving a spot to air ("Strap").

Campaign first reported news of the ad's rejection.