This past Sunday Jimmy Kimmel played host to Hollywood’s biggest night, the 89th Academy Awards, and the drama was certainly present in what proved to be an event that will live on in infamy. Despite the bizarre mishap that turned out to be one of the most surprising reveals in Oscar history, 33 million viewers tuned in the America’s second biggest live television event. Many advertisers took advantage of the industry’s oldest and most prestigious awards ceremony including Cadillac, Hyatt, GE and New York Times all buying ad time during the telecast. The approximately 45 minutes of ad time with ads costing up to $2 million for a 30 second spot, is the second most expensive TV buy behind the Super Bowl.

Kimmel’s monologue and mid-event live tweeting to @realDonaldTrump during the ceremony weren’t the only politically charged elements of the broadcast. Advertisers jumped on board and carried on the theme that was also prevalent with this year’s Super Bowl and Grammy ads alike, with national brands using the stage as a de facto soap box for their political views.


The ad opens with a jarring quote by the narrator, “We are a nation divided” and then showcases photos of personalities including Marilyn Monroe, Mohammed Ali and Dwight Eisenhower pictured with Cadillac cars. Forbes called Cadillac’s strategy a “me too” approach to using political undertones in commercial advertising.


Hyatt engaged in its first television advertisement in a decade during the Oscars telecast, while launching their global campaign the “World of Hyatt”. The ad set to the song “What the World Needs Now” showcases gestures between travelers of varying cultures with undertones pointing to Trump’s immigration ban.

New York Times:

Also the first brand campaign in over 10 years for the newspaper, the New York Times attempted to convey the importance of its journalism in this minimalistic ad entitled “The Truth Is…” The ad garnered a reaction from Trump himself in a tweet he released the morning following the broadcast.

And this begs the question, are brands making an impact with their advertising entrenched in political views? Or should brands get back to basics and build real brand equity with their target audiences grounded in their brands actual value and qualities?

America is certainly at a point and time like no other, whether you are optimistic or pessimistic about the next 4 to 8 years.  US citizens are certainly not holding back with expressing their own personal views across any and all social media sites available.  While Americans are entitled to their own views and opinions, is it crossing the line; or even more so drawing the line, when advertisers are expressing their own political views.  Why spend millions of dollars to air an ad that may not even showcase your brand/logo for more than :05 of the allotted :30 to have viewers wonder “and what was that a commercial for”?  It is a risky and bold move, with many applauding the stance the advertiser took with their paid spot.  However, it is also a risky and bold move because for every person applauding an advertiser’s political stance, there are just as many viewers shaking their head at that same advertiser’s political stance. With advertising use to be centered on the product, logo, and selling, is it time to leave the politics to the politicians and get back to what made American advertising great in the first place?