How a Super Bowl ad helped 84 Lumber attract potential employees

The construction supply company’s TV spot about a mother and daughter immigrating to the U.S. didn’t just launch a political firestorm—it also showcased a new way for organizations to recruit talent.

As with every Super Bowl, many people tuned in to this year’s match more for the commercials and entertainment than for the game.

One of the most interesting Super Bowl commercials had nothing to do with selling products or services. It was 84 Lumber’s “Mother/Daughter” spot, which aimed to help 84 Lumber recruit prospective employees.

That’s right. It was a Super Bowl ad that promoted an organization’s employer brand.

Here’s the spot that aired during the game:

Here’s “The Entire Journey”:

The spots point to a landing page where prospective candidates can see “The Entire Journey” and learn more about 84 Lumber through links to its social media channels and its Glassdoor page. Prospective employees can fill out a short form to request that a recruiter contact them.

It’s an unusual approach, but it makes sense when you consider that 84 Lumber is opening 20 new stores in 2017 and hiring “hundreds” of new employees. Although the employer brand angle is interesting enough, things got really intriguing when the backlash began.

Because the ad toed political lines (a mother and daughter are immigrating to what appears to be the U.S., where they encounter a border wall), people on both sides of the political aisle were bound to be upset.

There were comments about illegal immigrants possibly working for 84 Lumber:

There were comments about immigration policy:

There were even negative comments from people who refuse to do business with the company because of the ad:

Overall, 84 Lumber handled the blowback well. It responded quickly with consistent language. The company also responded to many negative remarks that other organizations might not have had the stomach to handle.

A new twist came to light when it became public that 84 Lumber’s CEO, Maggie Hardy Magerko, is a Trump supporter. Again, 84 Lumber responded. It put this statement at the top of its Twitter profile:

84 Lumber’s Super Bowl ad is an interesting case study for two reasons:

1. It focuses on the employer brand: We’ll begin seeing more organizations investing in employer brand marketing along with traditional recruiting efforts. This is a burgeoning sector of social media marketing.

2. It highlights online crisis management with a political twist: The ways organizations navigate dangerous political waters is a hot topic. In this instance, 84 Lumber took a strong stand, and it held firm to that position when the heat rose. Politics aside, we should applaud 84 Lumber for that. I wish we saw more of that in corporate America. Who knows? Maybe we will.

A version of this article originally appeared on Communication Conversations.

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