It’s been a month since the Super Bowl and its political-themed ads made headlines and caused social media buzz. The Oscars ceremony this past Sunday – a completely different type of event – also featured several brands with politically charged ads for the highly-watched event.

Our favorites – and the ones we felt had the deepest impact – were these:


The ad opens with a voice over saying “We are a nation divided. That’s what they tell us, right?” over black and white footage of demonstrations and turmoil.  The narrator continues: “What doesn’t make the news, is this: we carry each other forward”, while feel-good, unifying scenes are shown, like cops hugging citizens, soldiers returning home, daring emergency rescues, and peace marches. The spot only mentions their product passively: “We’ve had the privilege to carry a century of humanity,” over images of Marilyn Monroe, Mohammad Ali, and a president with their Cadillacs.  It concludes: “We’re not the same, but we can be one. All it takes is the wiliness to dare.”

Who didn’t get goosebumps watching that?! The “Dare Greatly” campaign in the past has celebrated the American brand’s willingness to be different than the luxury brands that dominate their industry. This political statement is uniquely American and ties in beautifully to Cadillac’s core message.  A+

The New York Times

The newspaper launched its first brand campaign in over a decade to debut during the Oscars. Why now? With a high profile event like the Oscars, (notoriously politically charged through winner’s acceptance speeches) plus the President and his administration’s recent attacks on the media (and on the Times, in particular) defending journalism’s integrity and power is both timely and necessary.

The powerful and minimalist ad shows “The truth is…” across the screen with rapidly changing definitions of ‘truth’ to illustrate the complexity involved in getting to the bottom of an issue to report a story. The black type on white background states:  “The truth is hard to find. The truth is hard to know. The truth is more important now than ever.”  The Times iconic logo ends the spot. It’s stark, simple, bold, and thought provoking. Grade: A

General Electric

GE took the notion of ‘celebrity’ and combined it with women’s issues to make their ad political. The spot asks what the world might look like we hailed female scientists the way we did rock stars or famous actors (tongue in cheek, considering it was airing during the Oscars). The ad portrays physicist Mildred Dresselhaus (who passed away Feb.20) on the cover of every magazine on the newsstand, shows her sold out lectures, and her achievements celebrated on news broadcasts. It even shows little girls getting “Millie” dolls for their birthday, kids dressing up as her for Halloween, and millennials taking selfies with her when they meet her on the street.  The spot ends with type reading: GE’s goal is to place 20,000 women in technical roles by 2020.

The spot is empowering and thoughtful at the same time. By focusing on women’s abilities and reminding us what should be valued in society, it made for a smart, profound ad.  Grade: A

As an advertiser, being political doesn’t always mean you will alienate an audience. As these ads demonstrate, you can unite your audience and customers, and maybe speak to a demographic that might not have noticed your brand before.