Bubba Wallace isn’t going to apologize to his detractors. That includes President Donald Trump.
The NASCAR star features in a new ad for Root Insurance, who will sponsor his car when he joins Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s 23XI Racing in 2021. And if the ad is any indication of what’s to come, Wallace is unapologetically embracing his polarizing image and not backing down from his positions.
The “Unapologetic” ad features the 27-year-old star working out and driving the Root Insurance car as clips of comments from his detractors play in the background. Reporters demand Wallace apologize to his critics, including the President of the United States, but Wallace just walks away. The words “Progress owes no apology” appear on the screen followed by “Proud to support unapologetic change” and “Proud to Support Bubba Wallace.”
The Face of NASCAR Faces His Critics
Bubba Wallace hasn’t won a Cup Series race, but he is the most well-known driver in NASCAR, according to a recent survey from Morning Consult. The reason for his notoriety or infamy, depending on your position, begins earlier this year when he asked NASCAR to ban the Confederate Flag from its racetracks. The country was still reeling following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the police shooting of Breonna Traylor. Protests and riots were happening in cities across the world.
Wallace, the top Cup Series’ only black driver, demanded NASCAR take action. He drove a car emblazoned with the Black Lives Matter hashtag. Nearly all of his fellow drivers stood by Wallace though there was some backlash from some fans once NASCAR banned the flag.
During this time, a member of Wallace’s team found what they believed to be a noose hanging in his Talladega garage. After investigating it, the FBI and later NASCAR ruled that the garage pull down did look like a noose, but it had been there for months. Wallace wasn’t targeted. That’s when Donald Trump got involved.
Since, Wallace is now the face of NASCAR. He has come to symbolize — for good or ill — the future of the sport. That tweet from the President became the centerpiece for the Root Insurance ad.
Root Insurance Stands with Bubba Wallace
Root Insurance Chief brand officer Kelly Ruoff said they chose to partner with Bubba Wallace because their goals mesh well. His push for social progress and racial justice speaks to people. These people’s purchasing decisions are based on their values, Ruoff told Fast Company.
“Early on, we homed in on the part of his story that made him known beyond NASCAR —President Trump tweeting at him in June asking if he had apologized yet,” Ruoff told them. “The idea of an apology quickly became the theme we centered on. Just because an apology is asked for doesn’t mean it’s owed. We knew there was power in denying an apology. It spoke to the high road that Bubba always takes, but it also spoke to his feisty spirit.”
Root hopes that, like Wallace, leaning into a controversy will pay off for them. The “Unapologetic” ad points firmly in that direction. It shows Wallace isn’t going to worry about his critics or his polarized image. He will do what he believes in.