The Super Bowl is a perfect snapshot of American commercialization and pop culture. As a Dad, I’m always watching the commercials with a lens of what my children are seeing as well, and many times, it’s not a lot of images that are suitable for toddlers. “Family friendly” gets harder and harder to find, even though many commentators pointed out the heavy use of fatherhood as a thematic element in many of this year’s Super Bowl commercials.
Not surprisingly, some of these ads were met with mixed reviews as some suggested that spots like Dove’s “Men Care” and Toyota’s “My Bold Dad” hinted at a shifting role of fatherhood and a softening of masculinity from traditional expectations. However, Nissan’s “With Dad” slightly veered from that path by highlighting themes of hard work, sacrifice and a nuclear family.
Just this week, Google announced that Nissan’s 60-second spot was the highest rated by fans in this year’s YouTube AdBlitz. In the ad, a montage of a Nissan Maxima automobile racer’s family life over the years from his son’s birth to late adolescence is juxtaposed against Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle”. The father spends his days in and out of home life as he follows a career on the racetrack rife with risk and trying times on the family.
While the viewer can certainly read the message they want from any given commercial, Americans clearly responded positively when watching the blue-collar values of the Nissan commercial where hardships endured by a family when a father must make sacrifices to earn a living. Moreover, when 2nd Vote asked its conservative membership to offer opinions on the ads, they responded very favorably and positively towards Nissan’s ad.
Conservatives should also respond favorably to Nissan’s politics given that the car manufacturer appears intent on growing its American presence. Overall, the company remains fairly neutral on several issues, such as the 2nd Amendment, the environment and education. The company does score a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and has partnered with the United Way, a charity noted for support of Planned Parenthood. However, Nissan also makes contributions to Catholic Charities, which is an explicitly Pro-Life organization.
Nissan’s political positioning is a welcome pivot from the alignments of its competitors like Toyota, which has contributed to “Hillary’s Think Tank”, the Center for American Progress, and Ford and General Motors, both funders of liberal environmental group Ceres. General Motors has also supported members of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a liberal anti-gun group.
Most importantly, Nissan appears to be focused mostly on building a good, efficient business model in America. For example, the company has met unionization attempts at the decade-old plant in Mississippi with a healthy level of skepticism and resistance. Given the tendency of large corporations to get involved with liberal political entities as some sort of pay-for-play arrangement, conservatives should look for companies that work to remain neutral as examples to highlight.
Nissan’s marketing team also seems to understand a message that resonates with a broad segment of Americans. The silent majority that still cherishes traditional values of faith and family may be glossed over by the media and Hollywood celebrities, but companies like Chick-fil-A have showed how that segment can respond when motivated. Conservatives should look at companies like Nissan in comparison to their competitors to consider how they reflect conservative values, despite their neutrality on paper.
Chris Walker is the Executive Director of 2nd Vote, the conservative shopper’s app. To find out more, download the free app or visit 2ndVote.com.