Super Bowl advertising has, like everything in the US, been overshadowed by coronavirus and Donald Trump. Many regular brands, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Hyundai, and Little Caesars, are steering clear of the game this year, while others have been waiting until Joe Biden’s inauguration is safely completed before they reveal plans.
The event itself is unlikely to be very exciting. The stadium in Florida will only be 20 per cent full for the game on 7th February, which marks the culmination of a muted season. Canadian singer The Weeknd is playing the Pepsi-sponsored half time show.
Advertiser interest seems to be correspondingly down. Usually, there’s a stream of ads and teasers released by now, but there’s been little buzz and no mention of inflated prices for media space. Marketers are understandably reluctant to be seen to spend millions of dollars on making ads and buying airtime in the current circumstances.
For those that do, a survey by AdColony (reported in Ad Age) found that 81% of people want the ads to be funny this year, and that seems to be the tone from what we have seen so far.
Frito-Lay has been brave enough to come out of the starting blocks, teasing commercials for Cheetos and Doritos, both featuring celebrity names. Ashton Kutcher is seen pulling CCTV stills and an empty packet of Cheetos out of an envelope, saying, “Oh my gosh. I knew it.”
Jimmy Kimmel features in the Doritos teaser, in which he is waiting with actress Mindy Kaling to welcome a mystery guest, #FlatMatthew.
Some first-time advertisers have also declared, including TikTok rival Triller, Scott’s Miracle-Gro (keen to build on renewed enthusiasm for gardens over the last year), and online car dealership Vroom, which is perhaps the only company to have released a full ad. It’s a light hearted look at the contrast between going into showrooms and doing your business online.
Established Super Bowl advertisers who are also due to screen ads during the big game include General Motors, Toyota, Pringles and M&M.