Today Show Panel Applauds Super Bowl Ads Pushing Liberal Agenda

On Monday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer and substitute co-host Maria Shriver led a panel discussion reviewing some of Sunday night’s Super Bowl commercials and gushed over the “social awareness” of ads that pushed liberal agenda items like environmental activism, equal pay, and illegal immigration.

Lauer began the segment by proclaiming: “It kind of had everything. It had celebrity. It had humor. It had social awareness.” Marketing executive David Steinberg declared it “the year of the message,” while USA Today business reporter Charisse Jones asserted: “I think that politics...was kind of the third rail this year, but you couldn't avoid it. And I think that the ads that went in that direction really made a significant impact.”

Looking at a humorous car commercial from Kia starring comedian Melissa McCarthy as an “eco-warrior,” the panelists hyped the political angle. Steinberg touted: “Not only do you get in one ad humor, celebrity, and save the planet, you get a great message.” Jones added: “...this could have been politically divisive, it's about climate change in a way, saving the trees, saving the whales. But I think humor makes the message go down easier and that really resonated with people.”

Highlighting another TV spot moments later, Shriver fawned: “But Audi, another car commercial. Inspirational, women, equal pay....why that was so successful?” Cheering the ad for its narrative promoting the discredited gender pay gap myth, Steinberg replied: “I think it speaks to women and it speaks to fathers. I mean, as a dad, it made me think about my daughters.” Jones chimed in: “And it was unapologetic in what the message was. Really to have that great score and the wonderful narration, it was uplifting and it just really pushed all those emotional buttons.”

Neither Lauer nor Shriver bothered to provide a fact-check on the issue.

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Wrapping up the exchange, Lauer turned to a commercial that tackled illegal immigration: “We’re talking about 84 Lumber. As we see a little of it, talk to me about this concept. It's really a mother, daughter and their migrant journey.” Steinberg announced: “To me, this is the ad that clearly had the biggest message. And it was 84 Lumber speaking directly to their immigrant base. Those are the people who come to their stores, buy their products.”

Jones hailed the ad: “I think it was welcoming. I mean, you saw the big door in the wall. And they were saying, ‘We want you to come, we want hard workers, we want people that want to be a part of the American dream.’” Lauer concluded: “And they’re saying, ‘We build doors, not walls.’”

Check out the seven most outrageously liberal ads during the big game.

Here is full transcript of the February 6 segment on Today:

7:41 AM ET

MATT LAUER: 7:41 now, we’re back with the most talked about commercials from last night's big game.

MARIA SHRIVER: We are excited all those people out there look warm. We're about to reveal which ads ranked the highest on USA Today's annual ad leader poll. And here to help us, Charisse Jones business reporter at USA Today Network and David Steinberg, the CEO of Zeta Global. And good morning to you both.

CHARISSE JONES [USA TODAY]: Good morning.

LAUER: Hey guys. It kind of had everything. It had celebrity. It had humor. It had social awareness. Does one area jump out to either of you?

DAVID STEINBERG [CEO, ZETA GLOBAL]: Well, if last year was the year of the celebrity, Matt, this year was clearly the year of the message.

JONES: And I think that politics, you know, that was kind of the third rail this year, but you couldn't avoid it. And I think that the ads that went in that direction really made a significant impact.

SHRIVER: Let's talk about the Melissa McCarthy – what an incredible 48 hours for this woman.

STEINBERG: Amazing.

SHRIVER: That really was my laugh-out-loud ad.

STEINBERG: Not only do you get in one ad humor, celebrity, and save the planet, you get a great message. And coming off her SNL win, it's hard to say that she didn't have the best possible weekend.

LAUER: Let’s listen to a little.

[CLIP OF MELISSA MCCARTHY SUPERBOWL AD]

LAUER: Her week gets worse from there we should mention. Charisse, other than Melissa McCarthy's facial expressions, what makes this?

JONES: You know, she is so hilarious she could read the phone book and make it funny. And I think that this could have been politically divisive, it's about climate change in a way, saving the trees, saving the whales. But I think humor makes the message go down easier and that really resonated with people.  

LAUER: Pardon me. Another car company scored very highly. Honda with their yearbooks ad. This used technology, it was brilliant. But you know what? I'm wondering as I'm watching it, are we going to care about the product or just are we going to look and think this is really clever?

STEINBERG: Well, it's what you said last year, too, right? So you look at this ad and you’re trying to guess what it is. And then finally, you get to it.

[CLIP OF HONDA SUPERBOWL AD]

LAUER: So we’ve got some of our favorite celebrities as they were back in high school. Why did it work?

STEINBERG: Well, I think it worked because it was fun and funny. Everybody identified with at least one of the actors they chose, right? And it was – the actors being themselves, but as kids. Steve Carell doing, I think, the best job.

JONES: I think it was really cool to see that they were awkward teenagers just like all the rest of us, so you could really relate to them. And then the message was really inspirational, so it really moved a lot of people. But would it make me go out and buy a Honda? I don't know.

SHRIVER: But Audi, another car commercial. Inspirational, women, equal pay. What do you think that – why that was so successful?

STEINBERG: Well, I mean, if you look at ten different polls, with of course the USA Today being the best. This is the only ad that I saw that showed up one, two, or three on every one. I think it speaks to women and it speaks to fathers. I mean, as a dad, it made me think about my daughters.

JONES: And it was unapologetic in what the message was. Really to have that great score and the wonderful narration, it was uplifting and it just really pushed all those emotional buttons.

LAUER: Let me stick with you Charisse, video games, they were everywhere, ads for them last night.

JONES: I don't know why.

LAUER: Yeah, they did not resonate as well according to viewers. Why not?

JONES: You know, I think that they were kind of dull, they were kind of obscure, it didn't speak to a very broad audience. You know, they’re always in the game, but I don’t think that they really came up with a significant enough presence or ad to make it really click.

LAUER: David, you agree?

STEINBERG: Totally agree.

LAUER: Alright, can we talk about an ad that kind of ended –  

SHRIVER: Controversial.

LAUER: Yeah, it was kind of the first part of the ad, and they told you to go to their website. We’re talking about 84 Lumber. As we see a little of it, talk to me about this concept. It's really a mother, daughter and their migrant journey. And we don't know how it ends.

STEINBERG: Well, you don't know how it ends until you go online. But the website crashed, this ad was so popular. To me, this is the ad that clearly had the biggest message. And it was 84 Lumber speaking directly to their immigrant base. Those are the people who come to their stores, buy their products.

SHRIVER: But what did it say to you? Because everybody here seems to have a different take on what the ad actually ended up saying.

JONES: I think it was welcoming. I mean, you saw the big door in the wall. And they were saying, “We want you to come, we want hard workers, we want people that want to be a part of the American dream.” It wasn't the most popular ad, but it generated the most social buzz and conversation.

LAUER: And in a literal sense, 84 Lumber building supplies. And they’re saying, “We build doors, not walls.” So again, we'll have to see how that translates into business. And what kind of reaction on social media. You guys are fun, thank you very much.

STEINBERG: Thanks for having us.

JONES: Thank you.

LAUER: Good to have you guys here.

SHRIVER: Thank you.

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