Cellular phone company T-Mobile took a strong political stance Sunday with a Super Bowl commercial that had nothing to do with mobile phones.
The ad, narrated by liberal actress Kerry Washington, suggested that today’s infants will grow up to promote equality, in part by demanding “fair and equal pay” and loving “who (they) want.”
As Washington spoke, the camera panned over a diverse group of babies, as a lullaby version of Nirvana’s “All Apologies” played in the background. The minute-long commercial was titled, “Change starts here.”
“Welcome to the world little ones,” Washington said at the start of the ad.
“You come with open minds and the instinct that we are equal,” she continued. “Some people may see your differences and be threatened by them, but you are unstoppable. You’ll love who you want; you’ll demand fair and equal pay; you will not allow where you come from to dictate where you’re going.”
“Change starts here,” Washington concluded.
As noted by the Washington Examiner, the ad stood out, as many of the companies who paid to air commercials during Super Bowl LII avoided politics altogether.
T-Mobile’s choice to take a stance, though, seemed to be an intentional one.
“Brands have an important role in changing culture,” Nick Drake, T-Mobile’s executive vice president of marketing, told The Wall Street Journal. “There is always going to be some risk with these things, but we think this subject matter is something everybody can agree on.”
In a blog post on the company’s website, T-Mobile CEO John Legere noted that the company chose to air the ad because “this moment in history calls for something different.”
Legere emphasized that his company takes pride in listening to its customers, no matter their “economic class, race, sex, creed, gender identity, sexual orientation.”
“Our customers are America. And there’s a more important conversation they’re having right now,” he said, adding, “We wanted to use our airtime to further that conversation by making this simple point: We all started in the same place. We are more alike than different.”
But at least on Twitter, many users claimed the T-Mobile ad’s message was unnecessarily politically charged. Some even suggested that T-Mobile was simply “pandering” to liberals.
Others pointed out irony in the fact that T-Mobile was able to air their commercial, but the NFL rejected an ad from a veterans group that encouraged fans to stand during the playing of the national anthem.
It’s far from the first time Legere has become embroiled in controversy. In April 2015, he got into a Twitter argument with then-businessman Donald Trump after the real estate magnate said T-Mobile’s service was “terrible.”
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