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What We Can Expect from Super Bowl Advertising In 2021

By: Maddie Mooney    January 29, 2021

With less than three weeks until kickoff, CBS has yet to announce a sellout of the traditionally highly coveted Super Bowl ad spots. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, advertising in the 2021 Big Game has brought uncertainty and difficulty to many advertisers.

Typically, dozens of companies would jump at the opportunity to show their best ads in front of an enormous captive audience. According to Kantar, 2020’s Super Bowl game generated over $448 million in ad spending. However, the pandemic has unfortunately caused serious issues with budgeting and predictability surrounding airing ads during the game.

So, What Can We Expect?

We can expect to not see some familiar big brands this year. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sabra and SodaStream are just a few companies opting to sit this year out. While some are citing budget reallocations as their reasoning, other advertisers also had doubts about the excitement, viewing nature and predictability of Super Bowl LV. For last year’s Super Bowl, FOX had sold all of its 77 advertising slots by Thanksgiving 2019. However, questions like (1) Is it worth the exorbitant cost and time commitment to produce the ad; (2) Will the pandemic negatively impact traditional viewing parties; and (3) Will the game be postponed due to COVID-related issues have made advertisers rethink buying TV slots this year.

We may also see advertisers prioritizing their consideration of audience reception in their ads so as not to appear inconsiderate. While audiences need to be entertained, advertisers are challenged with finding a new balance in tone in this somber environment. Themes of lightheartedness, unity and hope are predicted to be featured in many ads, due to the current reality of the pandemic and recent presidential election. Additionally, an emphasis on human connection in socially distant times is also predicted to be a focus.

Though many advertisers are faced with challenges in this year’s Super Bowl advertising, new opportunities have also become more accessible. Companies such as Scotts Miracle-Gro®, Fiverr and Triller are just a few companies that will air ads for the first time during the Big Game. Additionally, with the numerous viewing possibilities, companies of various sizes will now be able to advertise at a smaller cost than the traditional TV slots.

Ultimately, the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic will leave this year’s Super Bowl advertising unlike any other. Regardless, many still have bought in to the chance of their brand starting a national conversation through TV advertising.