• February 3, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Super Bowl Ads See Pandemic Shift

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs face off in the Super Bowl LV matchup this Sunday, Feb 7, quite a few big-name advertising stalwarts will not be joining them on the CBS telecast. Budweiser, Coca-Cola, and Hyundai are among the major brands sitting out the big game this year.

CBS reportedly has sold out its Super Bowl advertising, which this year was priced at $5.5 million per 30-second spot. But, this year's commercials are definitely being shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, advertisers were forced to cut their budgets because of the business shitdowns, finding it hard to justify such a large expense when so many of the country's population is experiencing COVID-related economic hardship.

Jim Nail, a Forrester Research principal analyst serving B2C marketing professionals, has some thoughts as to why some major companies aren't choosing to place Super Bowl ads this year. They are highlighted below:

  • Ad sales are slower than in past years as companies hesitate to commit during this down economy.
  • In past years, companies previewed their spots in advance and had active social media strategies to build anticipation and buzz for their spots. That didn't happen this year, largely because it was just too hard to compete with the news.
  • In the age-old argument about whether the Super Bowl is worth the price premium the spots command, some companies are saying that the answer is no, at least this year. Nail noted that this is particularly true of companies that rely on bars, restaurants, and large gatherings for their sales.

Still, at the same time, some other new Super Bowl advertisers have emerged this year, touting products and services that largely cater to the stay-at-home, contactless reality brought on by the pandemic. Among them is garden supply manufacturer Scotts Miracle Gro, online auto marketplace Vroom, online sports betting site DraftKings, and online retail site Mercari.

Another advertisier is Fiverr, a platform for freelance and gig workers, which Nail says "fits well with the reality that we are all working remotely all the time. It will be interesting to see how closely they tie their messaging to the pandemic and whether they talk more to the business community looking for workers or the workers looking for a way to pick up more income."

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