The Super Bowl is arguably a bigger day for brands than for the NFL.
Advertisers normally use the event to debut the year’s biggest ad campaigns, taking advantage of the huge audiences that tune in live every year.
This year, of course, is different, as we trod through an ongoing pandemic and a turbulent social climate.
But the game must go on — for brands and for fans. A 30-second spot during the Super Bowl, scheduled to air on Feb. 7 on CBS from Tampa Bay, Fla., is selling at an estimated $5.5 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. And CBS has already sold out of the majority of its inventory.
So, who is tackling the Big Game spot — and who is sitting on the sidelines?
Back in the game
While some Super Bowl mainstays are sitting out the game this year, many brands are returning to the field.
WeatherTech and TurboTax, for example, have bought ad time for the eighth year in a row, while Toyota and Pringles are both back for the fourth year in a row. Last year, WeatherTech aired an inspiring ad about the CEO’s dog, Scout, who beat cancer. TurboTax and Pringles opted for light-hearted spots, while Toyota tapped “How I Met Your Mother” actress Cobie Smulders as the face of its 2020 campaign.
Mtn Dew is returning for a second year, with a spot rumored to promote its newest flavor, Major Melon. Last year, the soda brand spoofed “The Shining” in a spot starring Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Frito-Lay, which has benefitted from an increase in snacking during pandemic, is launching three Super Bowl ad campaigns this year to promote its throwback ‘90s era Doritos 3D Crunch and new Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix. Frito-Lay released a teaser for the Cheetos ad, starring Ashton Kutcher.
Another Frito-Lay spot, which will run just ahead of the Super Bowl, will feature NFL stars Peyton and Eli Manning, Troy Aikman and Deion Sanders.
And after sitting out last year, M&M’s will return with a spot slated to air during the first commercial break after kickoff, marking the Mars Wrigley brand’s sixth Super Bowl spot in the last decade.
On the bench
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, usually huge advertisers in the Super Bowl, have opted out of the game this year as sales fell flat amid the pandemic.
Coca-Cola, which recently kicked off a massive global review of its $4 billion media and creative agency business, said it is sitting out the game to “ensure we are investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times,” a spokesperson told Variety.
Pepsi, for its part, will sponsor the annual halftime show featuring The Weeknd, and run an ad campaign promoting the show, but will not air a stand alone spot for the brand, as it has done for the past 20 years.
Avocados From Mexico is also sitting out the Super Bowl after airing ads six years in a row. Another game day vet, Hyundai, will also end its five-year streak in the game, as automakers continue to struggle during the pandemic.
Other brands throwing in the towel this year include Little Caesar’s, Olay, Sabra and SodaStream.
Super Bowl debut
Online freelancer platform Fiverr will air its first Super Bowl ad during the championship game, as freelancing and distributed work take off during the pandemic.
Other newbies include Scotts Miracle-Gro, e-commerce car retailer Vroom and video-sharing app Triller, which is looking for a bigger branding moment as it grows its user base past 65 million monthly actives. The TikTok competitor was accused of allegedly inflating its user numbers after claiming it reached 100 million monthly users in October.