We are days away from the Super Bowl, the biggest marketing event in the world. It will be a very different game this year, with few big parties, not many people in the stands and no vast fleet of corporate jets winging in with big spending executives.
The advertising will also be different. Watch for three trends this year.
The quarterbacks are returning for another Super Bowl but many of the advertisers will be new. Many big, established brands have taken a pass. We won’t see Coke, Budweiser, Audi or Hyundai.
There are two reasons for this. First, there is the business reality. Coke and Pepsi are not thriving, for example, as fountain sales plummet. Airlines and restaurants are out, too.
Second, this year is a creative challenge. A serious tone might go over poorly, but humor could easily miss the mark. For a number of big companies, the safe decision this year is to sit out.
Instead, we will see a host of new advertisers. Many of these are digital-first firms that have thrived during the pandemic: Logitech, Mercari, Fivrr, Triller and Door Dash. Others are firms that simply see an opportunity to run a Super Bowl spot for a likely discounted price: State Farm, Hellmann’s and Huggies.
And then there is Robinhood, which is in a category of its own.
The creative ideas will reflect the COVID19 reality that we are all going through. I suspect advertisers won’t be showing parties or family gatherings or sporting events with packed stands. Instead, the imagery will show life today: small family groups, people working from home and social distancing.
Several advertisers will run spots that build from pandemic insights. Scott’s will celebrate the back yard. Tide will remind us to wash our clothes every once in a while.
Expect spots this year to be upbeat and positive. People are looking for moments of happiness, and advertisers will work very hard to provide that.
Caution is the theme this year, so all of the jokes will be family friendly. We are in a polarizing time. I’m sure advertisers have been debating joking about the election and fake votes but I would be surprised to see any of them embrace this creative theme.
It is not the year for serious, dark messages. These are always risky on the Super Bowl but this year poses a particular challenge given the losses that we have all suffered over the past 12 months.
Sunday will bring light, controversy free advertising and, with any luck, some interesting football.