As brands play it carefully, the role of the Super Bowl redefined


The decline at this year’s Super Bowl of large sponsors such as Budweiser, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi indicate that the big game might not be as good an indicator of marketing macro patterns as normal. However, the event is shaping up to be a significant forum for start-ups to shore up strides made in 2020 and map a way forward for another unpredictable year, particularly digitally based businesses that have benefited from the pandemic.

Daily faces such as Budweiser opting to sit out the game in 2021 also reinforce how the Super Bowl has taken on a subdued tone in the wake of the pandemic and greater civil turmoil, an iconic piece of appointment television in an otherwise decimated TV environment. Ahead of Feb. 7, the shakeup of decades-long advertisement traditions means that advertisers looking at the game for larger measures of what will resonate in 2021 will definitely not get the answers they are looking for.

Rolling around on eggshells

A group of advertisers eager to cash out a reported $5.5 million per spot to host CBS network is already attracting Super Bowl LV. Tea leaf-readers expect that Feb. 7 would dominate comedy and light-hearted posting, reflecting a need to withdraw from the everyday anxieties of living under a pandemic.

Even tried-and-true techniques can produce the effect of walking on eggshells while buyers are hypersensitive to external issues, which may decrease the effectiveness of Super Bowl advertising while raising reputational risks for companies that skip the brand.

Firm- lipped

Still, a strong front-runner in ads for Super Bowl LV is yet to appear. Examining pregame chatter is one means of estimating how impactful advertising would be.

The championship match last year was one of the last big publicity stages before COVID-19 in March shut down culture, and created a variety of advertisements that drew equal acclaim and scepticism, such as a saga about the death of Mr. Peanut, the mascot of Planters, which included a teaser advertisement showing the extinction of the symbol. After Super Bowl LIV, the Planters promotion continued, with a reincarnated version of the character approaching middle age during the holidays as part of the efforts of the Kraft Heinz label to market its e-commerce offerings. It’s an instance of how the Super Bowl is constantly acting as a launchpad for broader systems of promotion.

Choosing the Champions

A more muted Super Bowl might at the same time reward a low-key strategy that would not be common to buyers with low-key enterprises. Fresh faces such as Fiverr show how the game is used by digital services companies who have experienced a windfall thanks to COVID-19 to strengthen consumer value while targeting a larger audience.

The place for Fiverr comes as part of a broader “It Starts Here” network that launched in September and focused on helping small and medium-sized companies fulfil the pandemic-driven digital transition demands.

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