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Kerry Washington made an unexpected appearance at the Super Bowl on Sunday — in a T-Mobile ad advocating for equal pay.
T-Mobile’s #LittleOnes ad, which ran during the game, featured narration from the Scandal star as it panned over diverse babies lined up on a bed. “Welcome to the world, little ones. Yeah, it’s a lot of take in. But you come with open minds and the instinct that we are equal,” Washington said as “We are equal” flashed over the screen.
“Some people may see your differences and be threatened by them,” Washington continued. “But you are unstoppable. You’ll love who you want, you’ll demand fair and equal pay, you will not allow where you come from to dictate where you’re going. You will be heard, not dismissed, you will be connected, not alone. Change starts now.”
The ad ended with T-Mobile’s logo underneath text reading, “Are you with us?” The ad ran nationally, according to a T-Mobile spokesperson.
In a statement about the ad, T-Mobile CEO and president John Legere said that the company had another spot planned but scrapped it “because something remarkable is happening right now. Change is in the air. And, this moment in history calls for something different. Something more impactful. Something more meaningful.” Legere added that, with this ad, the company hoped to show that people are more alike than different and that they all start from the same place. “T-Mobile has always stood for inclusivity. For equality. And for challenging convention,” Legere wrote.
“I’m in looooovve with this ad. Love the babies! Love the message. Proud to work with @TMobile & be the voice of this message & this Super Bowl commercial,” Washington tweeted on Sunday. Washington was one of the founders of the Time’s Up legal defense fund that aims to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace — along with Shonda Rhimes and Reese Witherspoon.
Some social media users balked at the overt politicism of the ad’s message on Sunday, with one user calling it “overtly political crap.”
“We were doing SO well at not having any overtly political crap in this super bowl, and then @TMobile had to go and shit on everything,” wrote the user. “Americans are tired of people politicizing sports,” another said.
A spokesperson sent THR a statement from Legere on Sunday: “We wanted to use our airtime to further that conversation by making this simple point: We all started in the same place. We are more alike than different. And we are unstoppable.”
Watch the video above, and see more reactions, below.
We were doing SO well at not having any overtly political crap in this super bowl, and then @TMobile had to go and shit on everything.
— Ashe Schow (@AsheSchow) February 5, 2018
Worst commercial award: @TMobile by far.
Americans are tired of people politicizing sports. It’s one area where Americans can come together and @TMobile says nope.
It will backfire on them.
— Dr. Milton Wolf (@MiltonWolfMD) February 5, 2018
Has @TMobile announced their employee bonuses yet?
— Randy Barnett (@RandyEBarnett) February 5, 2018
I realize some of y’all are upset about the Prince tribute but T-Mobile just played Kurt Cobain music on a xylophone.
— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) February 5, 2018
Savvy move for T-Mobile to brand itself the cell phone company you most associate with bone-deep existential despair.
— Scott Tobias (@scott_tobias) February 5, 2018
Feb. 4, 8:14 p.m. Updated with a statement from T-Mobile spokesperson.
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