Super Bowl Ad on Farmers’ Protest: What It Cost & Who Funded It?

Indian-American Raj Sodhi-Layne conceptualised the ad and raised over $11,000 to fund the commercial.

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A still from an ad supporting India’s farmers’ protest, which aired in California during the Super Bowl on Sunday, 7 February.
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During the year's most-watched television event in US, the Super Bowl, viewers in California’s Fresno County watched a historic commercial backing the farmers’ protest in India during the game between Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, 7 February.

Indian-American Raj Sodhi-Layne is the creator of the commercial. Sodhi-Layne, a banker based in Fresno, got together with two of her friends to create and produce the video, following which she signed a contract with CBS for air time.

What Did the Ad Cost?

Sodhi-Layne had initiated an online fundraiser to cover the cost of the regional ad on Friday, 5 February. The fundraiser titled 'Support Farmers in India with AD Superbowl Sunday' raised $11,123 in a day’s time.

The air time cost $10,000 since it was a regional commercial and was aired only in the Fresno County area.

The ad, which was aired between 3:00 and 3:30 pm PST on Sunday, was widely shared on Twitter.

The Wide Appeal of Super Bowl Ads

Super Bowl, the American National Football League, is known for airing some of the world's most famous ads and is said to even draw crowds for the ads alone.

This year’s 30-second spots for national ads during the Super Bowl were sold for around $5.5 million each, as per Superbowl-ads.com.

In 2020, the average cost of a 30-second in-game commercial was $5.25 million, according to Kantar. The total ad revenue from the commercials touched a record high of $450 million the same year.

The wide appeal of the commercials – which gains the most number of viewers during the sporting event – has resulted in top brands vying for air time, expanding their social media outreach around the slots.

But while national ads score high on attention, regional ads don’t go unnoticed either. They reinforce a messaging in key areas of the country, which was the core objective of the commercial on India’s farmers’ protest.

What Does the Commercial Talk About?

The 30-second regional commercial opens with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," and features visuals from the protests. It ends with a message from the mayor of the city of Fresno, California, Jerry Dyer, who says, "We want you to know, our brothers and sisters in India, that we stand with you."

India’s farmers have been protesting against three controversial farm laws since November 2020, worried about the impact of the new reforms on their income. The protests have made no headway yet as talks with the government failed repeatedly, owing to the Centre’s refusal to withdraw the laws, as sought by farmers.

The ad was aimed at drawing the attention of California’s Central Valley farm belt, which has a huge population of Punjabi farmers. The Indian farm laws directly impact these Californian farmers as they have immediate family members and relatives who run farms in Punjab, India.

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