Uplifting and patriotic ads are a staple of the Super Bowl, so last night the astonishing cynicism of that 84 Lumber ad really stood out. “Come on, illegal immigrants: Risk your lives, drag yourself across the harshest terrain and endure the most agonizing hardships. We need the cheap labor!”
In the 90-second spot for the construction-materials company, a Latino mother and daughter who are apparently sneaking across the southern border of the U.S. rise in the dark, walk along a barbed-wire fence, clamber aboard the boxcar of a moving train and wade across a river.
The ad is an unmistakable invitation to lawbreaking from a building-supplies company that, because of the industry it represents, is strongly associated with illegal immigrants. A Pew survey conducted between 2007 and 2012 found that construction was the sector that employed the second-largest number of illegal immigrants, after the service industry.
The guy who made the ad all but admitted the purpose of the ad was to draw illegal immigrants to work for the company. Michael Brunner, the CEO of Brunnerworks, the agency that created the spot, said its purpose was threefold: To generate awareness of the company, create pride in its workforce and fill jobs. “We’ve got over 400 positions that we’re looking to fill at all levels, at all capacities,”