Super Bowl 2021_Digital Advertising

Super Bowl Advertising – what to expect

On any other day, we can’t simply interrupt people whenever we want anymore. Our time has become way too valuable; we now have to really interest people in buying stuff. The Super Bowl is different, as the biggest sporting and advertising event of the year.

The biggest game in American sports is nearly upon us, the 55th Super Bowl takes place this year on February 7th 2021 from Tampa, Florida and the teams have now been made public. Superbowl 54 Winner and MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs take on 6x Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, a sure NFL Hall of Fame level quarterback, and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers will become the first team to play in the Super Bowl that their stadium is hosting.

It’s been a strange NFL season so far, with a large chunk of the pre-season completed at home due to COVID-19 restrictions and the nature of the current US political system; which meant that playing in front of a crowd was undertaken on a state-by-state basis. Notably, after California banned the use of the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, it saw them round off the season playing home matches 710 miles away in Arizona.

Beyond the physical event of the Super Bowl, there’s the half-time show (this year the performance slot was given to the Weeknd) and alongside the show the half-time ads – where historically 30 second slots have been known to cost companies up to $5m. For those who need a comparison, picture the yearly mania and popularity surrounding the John Lewis Christmas advert. It’s that sort of large-scale cinematic experience that goes hand in hand with this time of year for a game that often averages over 100m views. But what can we expect from the games advertising this year after such a chaotic and unprecedented lead up?

Crossover brands

One trend we’ve seen over the years is parent companies purchasing advertising space to display one of their additional product ranges. Procter & Gamble took this strategy to a new level with an interactive advert where viewers who visited a certain website could choose how they wanted their brand ambassador, Sofia Vergara’s, Super Bowl party to unfold. This idea, which uses the key concept of customer involvement builds engagement and an aura of anticipation for the consumer. Furthermore, Procter & Gamble were able to share the cost of the advertising feature with paramount brands such as; Head & Shoulders, Old Spice, Bounty, Olay and Charmin. Rather than broadcasting 5 ads for each of the separate brands, Procter & Gamble purchased the full minute to ensure the advert featured multiple brands. Could this idea of splitting advertising costs see collaborations you’d never have considered before? Burger King vs. Ronald McDonald for instance.

Cross-platform marketing

In 2016, insurance company Esurance aired an advert before kick-off instructing audiences to keep an eye on their Twitter account during advert breaks. They tasked the audience with sharing their tweets during these breaks and once the tweet had been shared the participator would automatically be entered into a sweepstake to win money. This concept resulted in the hashtag #EsuranceSweepstakes gaining nearly 2m mentions - more than any other branded hashtag during the 2016 game. Furthermore, Esurance also gave away $1m to 17 people. By using this tactic, Esurance leveraged something named ‘second-screen culture’, this means that when there’s nothing engaging on a consumers initial screen, for example their TV, the consumer will divert their attention to another secondary screen, for example their mobile phone. With this years’ Super Bowl confirmed to have a reduced attendance (fewer than 25k) and the majority of the country still in some form of lockdown, utilising this concept of the second screen experience is imperative for all major brands. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a giveaway; Budweiser ran a social media campaign in 2020 encouraging people to pick which of the two advert snippets featuring Post Malone should air in full. Again this included the consumer, increased anticipation for the final ad as well as increasing audience participation.

Empathetic messaging & non-traditional advertising

The 54th Super Bowl also saw a rise in all LGBTQ presence across the biggest stage in US sports, with stars of different genders, sexualities and preferences having an increased mien surrounding all of the Super Bowl’s advertising. Lil Nas X of ‘Old Town Road’ fame represented Doritos, whilst Jonathan Van Ness – a non-binary star from the hit TV series Queer Eye – starred for Pop Tarts. The past 12 months featured a pandemic, a heated US election and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement; the latter in particular, forced some ad agencies, often criticised for a lack of diversity within their walls, to hold a mirror up to their own policies around diversity, inclusion and supporting Black talent.

Budweiser have decided that they will not be running an advert during the Super Bowl for the first time in 37 years. Instead they released a 90 second advertisement on Twitter about bringing “Americans back together again” and redirecting what they would have spent in previous years on their campaign towards raising awareness of COVID-19 vaccines. Monica Rustgi, VP of Marketing for Budweiser stated during an interview with the Wall Street Journal; “We’re still going to reach people during the Super Bowl, […] It’s just not going to be in the traditional sense. We’re still using the conversation and the ecosystem around the Super Bowl to send a message, but we’re also helping to be part of the solution so we can all enjoy an ice-cold Bud sooner or later.”

Sports has always offered a distraction from the day-to-day routine, but it is advertising that provides an opportunity for your brand to reach the minds of millions. The Super Bowl is so much more than a just a sporting event, it’s the live-broadcasted event of the year. It’s also an experience, a community, and a global conversation.

Get in touch with our Digital Branding Team today, call us on: 020 7100 0726. Find out more about our Branding Agency in London.

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