By Kristin Acheson
For the first time in 37 years Budweiser did not run ads on Super Bowl LV. In a public statement the company claimed that they will be, “reallocat[ing] that investment to support the Ad Council and public awareness and education throughout the year for the COVID-19 vaccination effort.” Super Bowl LV was held in Tampa, Florida this year at the Raymond James Stadium but unlike any previous Super Bowl, half as many fans were physically in those seats as per social distancing guidelines. Super Bowl commercials are always a fan favorite and most fans watch from their homes waiting to see the new commercial that has been hyped up before the game. The lack of in person attendance pointed to estimates of higher viewership on television and streaming channels. Due to this large number of people watching from their homes most predictions considered this event an important television advertisement time, but for some companies it was rather the opposite. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Budweiser are typically the frontrunners in creating the best commercials during the Super Bowl, but this year’s lineup looked different.
New companies, especially those that have grown during the pandemic, like Fiverr, Door Dash, and e-commerce website Mercari, took these important commercial slots which strays from what we have traditionally seen in the past. Television marketing has been feeling to pressure to change due to the increase in streaming services and a growing presence of experiential and influencer marketing. This year we saw commercials use light humor about the lifestyle changes we have all gone through to connect with consumers while other commercials made room for activism to take a role in the marketing of businesses.
The Super Bowl is a time for marketers to find and predict what will resonate with consumers in 2021 but this year these answers may not be so crystal clear. For the first time in decades, these television advertisements could not succeed with just a high production value and flashing lights but needed to create a narrative that recognized what consumers had experienced over the last year. During a time in history were everyone is affected by COVID-19, these big-name brands have reevaluated their role in consumers’ lives. Brands like Budweiser and Coca-Cola deciding to step down from one of the most popular moments in television marketing represents a shift in focus towards corporate social responsibility rather than just trying to sell more beer. This is a massive shift away from the hyper-consumerism of the past and this trend will continue to change what we perceive as successful marketing.
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