Millions of people across the US and around the
world watched the 51st Annual Super Bowl on Feb.
5 where AFC champions, the New England Patriots, took on NFC champions, the Atlanta Falcons.
To many viewers of the much-anticipated game, the
television commercials are the highlights of one of
the most-watched television shows of the year.
Many of this year’s commercial offerings,
which seemed to lack the usual comedic take on
product-selling, tended to strike a more subdued
emotional connection with the viewing audience.
One such example was Airbnb’s “We Accept” ad.
Another was Anheuser Busch’s story of Adolphus
Busch immigrating to the US from Germany. Both
of these ads, as well as many others, evoked powerful sentiments about the changing policies of
newly elected US President Donald J. Trump.
The American Petroleum Institute, an advocate
for the petroleum industry, premiered its “Power
Past Impossible” ad campaign during this year’s
game, which was held in Houston, known to
many as the energy capital of the world. This first
national ad campaign showcased the vast array of
products that consumer’s might not expect to be
derived from oil and gas.
“This is an exciting new initiative that will
demonstrate the many innovative ways that natural gas and oil—and the products derived from
them—are integrated into our daily lives,” said
API Pres. and Chief Executive Officer Jack Gerard.
“From modern technological advances to life-sav-ing medical devices to everyday cosmetics, there
are countless examples of how natural gas and oil
help consumers power past the impossible every
single day. This dynamic campaign will show how
individual consumers benefit from more than just
transportation fuels or cooking and heat.”
‘This ain’t your daddy’s oil’
The 30-sec commercial starts with the phrase “This
ain’t your daddy’s oil.” A bold statement to illustrate that oil does more than just fuel cars and heat
homes. The $5-million commercial depicts different scenes to evoke a “transition of thought” or raising awareness of the many different uses of oil and
The commercial continues with a man spray-
painting graffiti art on a wall and paint for mod-
ern art used on canvas, to demonstrate that the
manufacturing of petroleum products enables one
to be creative. The screen reads, “Oil gushes art.”
Next, a woman is seen applying cosmetics—lip-
stick and eye shadow—to illustrate oil’s role in
the necessary components of the fashion industry.
The screen reads, “Oil strikes a pose.”
Next, a woman’s prosthetic hand enables her to
shoot a bow and arrow. Roughly 7 million Ameri-
cans have the assistance of prosthetic hips or knees
to live a more comfortable life. The screen reads,
“Oil taps potential.” Nearly 5 million Americans
diagnosed with heart-valve disease, prosthetic
heart valves could advance lives: “Oil pumps life.”
Reportedly $89.9 billion was invested in the oil
and gas industry for emission-reducing technolo-
gies during 2000-14. This was nearly as much as
invested in agriculture, electric utilities, and the
automobile industry combined. Air pollutants
have dropped by 63% since 1980. The screen
reads, “Oil runs cleaner.”
Air travel—both intercontinental and for space
exploration—isn’t new, but new technologies such
as advanced fuels make the practice more efficient
than ever. The screen reads, “Oil explores space.”
Ad sparks anger
Critics of the ad, who took to social media to vent
their anger after it played, said it overlooked the
long-term effects of fossil fuel use. On Twitter, critics of the API commercial spot challenged the ad’s
Others, however, ranked the ad among the best
to play during the Super Bowl. Many on Twitter
pushed back at the ad’s critics in favor of the com-
mercial, one even pointing out that “a good por-
tion of your laptop, tablet, or smartphone is made
API’s trademarked slogan, “Power past impos-
sible,” closes out the commercial. The mantra will
underlie API’s continuing campaign depicting
how the oil and gas industry will “power through
what we thought was impossible just a few years
ago,” despite the critics.
Powering past impossible