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Ads bring political message to Super Bowl

Washington (AFP) – Home-sharing giant Airbnb injected a surprise political message during the Super Bowl with a television spot highlighting multiculturalism and the hashtag #WeAccept.

While the American football championship normally frowns on overtly political ads, the subtle message from Airbnb came amid a heated debate following President Donald Trump’s order to block the flow of immigrants and refugees into the United States.

The 30-second Airbnb spot shows a series of faces of people from different races, genders and ages with a running line of text saying “No matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong.”

The ad was among several apparently promoting tolerance and multiculturalism at a time of deep political polarization.

On Twitter, Airbnb founder and chief executive Brian Chesky also announced the group would donate $4 million over four years to the International Rescue Committee to assist refugees.

“Airbnb’s goal is to provide short term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need,” Chesky tweeted.

The ad, which was not revealed ahead of the game, prompted considerable reaction on Twitter.

“Great job airbnb executing a positive ad that draws people together & helps your brand. Acceptance starts with all of us,” one Twitter user wrote.

But another Twitter user responded, “All of these commercials pushing multiculturalism is propaganda to accept Muslim refugees that seek to invade.”

Trump’s January 27 decree prohibits entry to all refugees, regardless of nationality, for 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely.

It also suspends the issuance of visas for 90 days to migrants or visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

However the travel ban has been lifted temporarily following a federal district judge’s order that it be  suspended nationwide on Friday.

The ad was among several which aimed to deliver a message. A separate spot from the home improvement retailer 84 Lumber showed the journey of a mother and daughter who appeared to be traveling in the Mexican desert seeking to reach the United States, and invited viewers to watch the full ad online.

On YouTube, the five-minute film described as “too controversial for TV” showed the pair arriving at a large wall, unable to cross.

The retailer had to revise its spot for television after it was rejected for being overtly political.

The Super Bowl is the most watched US television event with more than 110 million viewers expected to tune in this year.

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