The pandemic is making next month’s Super Bowl – the biggest game in American football – shine for some of the most prominent commercial advertisers.
Top brands like Budweiser and Coca-Cola, which for decades have been running memorable commercials for the National Football League championship game, say they are stepping down this year. CBS, the Viacom network that will air the game on Feb. 7, finished selling its inventory of commercial slots this week, according to a person briefed on the matter. Last year’s event sold out more than two months before kick-off.
The pandemic is changing the attitudes of some brands about their potential ROI for an advertisement in the Super Bowl game, which remains the most expensive advertising real estate in US media. The price of a 30-second slot is expected to hit $ 5.6 million this year, according to Kantar Media, up 7% from last year’s rate, the previous all-time high.
For brands absent from this year’s game, “it’s not so much about cutting expenses as it is about changing the way their dollars are spent. For the Super Bowl, we’re going to see a lot more digital campaigns and sweepstakes on social media, ”said Jeff Eccleston, co-director of global branding at Creative Artists Agency.
An example of such a campaign this year is Corona, in which the beer label invites fans to upload videos of themselves to social media with a corresponding hashtag.
Meanwhile, rival beverage brand Budweiser will not run an in-game ad for the first time since 1983, but instead will donate the funds it planned to spend on its Super Bowl campaign to an education initiative. on vaccines from the Ad Council.
Budweiser’s move is remarkable because its parent company, Belgian brewing conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev, is a long-time sponsor of the NFL and the most prominent Super Bowl announcer. The company accounted for about 10% of total advertising revenue in each of the previous five Super Bowls according to Kantar, contributing $ 42 million to last year’s total of $ 449 million. This made them the biggest spenders on in-game ads.
Monica Rustgi, vice president of marketing for Budweiser, said the brand decided at the last minute not to go ahead with a planned Super Bowl ad, which it hopes to release at another time. The decision took into account the fact that the pandemic has muddied typical routines – lockdowns mean people aren’t supposed to congregate at big parties or bars to watch the game.
“It’s all about home marketing and home experience,” she said.
For businesses under pressure from the pandemic, a Super Bowl ad may not make financial sense. Coca Cola said in August it would cut thousands of jobs after its biggest drop in sales in a quarter of a century. These challenges preceded his decision not to participate in this year’s big game, a choice the company said “was made to ensure that we are investing in the right resources in these unprecedented times.”
Super Bowl commercials have become drama on their own, with companies hiring top notch celebrities as Brad Pitt and develop creative agencies to make spots fun, touching or otherwise noteworthy.
Overall, television remains the most important medium for U.S. advertisers according to Kantar data, with $ 12.2 billion spent in Q2 2020, while digital ads rank second at 8.3 billion dollars spent. The pandemic scrambled spending at the start of the year, with traditional media such as print, radio and outside channels being the hardest hit.
As businesses of all sizes are turning more and more to digital advertising, marketing consultants believe this will have an equalizing effect in generating awareness for a given brand or product.
“Even if you’re not a tech company or a social or digital business, it will be easier to connect and find an audience if you create compelling content and storytelling,” said CAA’s Mr. Eccleston.
Nonetheless, CBS will have a full inventory of commercials for this year’s Super Bowl, confirmed a spokesperson, who will pit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Among the companies planning spots are veteran game advertisers such as M & Ms candy, as well as newcomers including the online correspondence platform Fiverr.
Budweiser’s Ms Rustgi said the brand expects to run a Super Bowl commercial again when the pandemic subsides.
“There is still power to have a game day announcement,” she said.
“Three hundred and sixty-four days a year there are commercials running in the background. But the Super Bowl is probably the only time of the year when people say, “shut up, I wanna watch the commercials.” You don’t get that with a social or digital campaign. “