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Nick Aster headshot

Who is 84 Lumber, and Why the Radical Immigration Advert?

By Nick Aster

On Super Bowl Sunday, it's a TriplePundit tradition to look at the messages various corporations try to communicate via their (very expensive) advertising. Tonight we were impressed by Coca-Cola's diversity and Budweiser's pro-immigration stance and appalled by Kia's trivialization of critical environmental topics.

However, nothing in a long time has compared to the ad from 84 Lumber which told the story of a Mexican mother and daughter on their way to the United States to meet the woman's husband, employed by a construction company building -- you guessed it -- a border wall.  You can watch the whole advertisement below.

Needless to say, the woman and her daughter are initially discouraged by the concrete wall but eventually discover a wooden door (from 84 lumber?), which they open and happily use to enter the United States.

It's a hell of an ad, and by far the most direct reference to the declarations of the current presidential administration. It was apparently deemed too controversial to show in its entirety but concludes with the thought-provoking message that "the will to succeed is always welcome here."


It's bold, certainly, but why make such a statement in such divided times? Something that's bound to enrage as many as it inspired?

Admittedly, I'd never heard of 84 Lumber before tonight. That alone suggests the ad was successful. It turns out they're a lumber company (in case you were wondering), a sort of bare-bones Home Depot based south of Pittsburgh and catering primarily to professional contractors. A cynic could easily conclude that the company might simply be gambling with the old tenet "any news is good news," and that the inevitable controversy the ad will provoke will raise awareness beyond any downside.

A conversation earlier this week with Business Insider suggests that notoriety might have indeed been the company's main motivation. The fact is, in much of the country, professional contractors and builders are dominated by Mexican immigrants (legal and otherwise). This means a huge chunk of the company's clientele are very likely to be sympathetic to issues of immigration. The general public isn't likely a customer, so upsetting a chunk of America may be of little consequence. In fact the ad might have the effect of building solidarity with the company's core base -- a big win.

More than likely the wall in the advertisement is merely capitalizing on the politics of the day. Given the gainful employment the woman's husband is receiving building it and the fact that the woman's perseverance pays off when the doors open, the could be interpreted as much pro-wall as anti. Time will tell.

Either way, it's quite a statement. We can continue to debate the nuances of exactly how immigration should be regulated -- especially whether a literal wall will accomplish anything. But celebrating the fact that immigration, mainly by those driven to succeed and thrive in a new land, is an integral part of what makes the United States great should hardly be considered controversial.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Nick Aster headshot

Nick Aster is the founder of TriplePundit. Prior to launching 3p, Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years, and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He also worked for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging. Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

Read more stories by Nick Aster