Updated: Feb 7, 2021
On an annual basis, the Super Bowl is the world’s most anticipated sporting event.
In 2020, over 100 million viewers tuned in to watch the Kansas City Chiefs win their first championship in 50 years. The event is not only a showcase of athletic excellence, but also a battleground for brands to reach a massive audience and display their creativity.
'The Big Game' is a marquee occasion that brands use as a center-piece of their marketing strategy and with a price tag of approximately $5.5 million for 30 seconds, Super Bowl ads are a consequential investment for any company.
Year-after-year, the commercials are responsible for some of the most memorable moments of Super Bowl weekend. Most would recognize Budweiser’s’ “Clydesdale Puppy Love” ad prior to recalling how badly the Seahawks beat the Broncos in 2014 or remember Amazon’s “Alexa Lost Her Voice” commercial before remembering how Nick Foles outdueled Tom Brady in 2018.
As the global pandemic stifled businesses, and with advertising budgets in flux, committing to a Super Bowl commercial has become an arduous task for Brand Bowl stalwarts. Brands such as Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Ford, Avocados from Mexico, Sabra, Little Caesars and Olay have already confirmed they won’t participate. Half-time sponsor Pepsi has also announced they would not be producing a commercial in favour of focusing solely on the performance. Although the appetite for Super Bowl ad space has declined, CBS has still managed to virtually sell out of all commercial inventory.
Veteran Super Bowl Brands
The world-renowned snack company will air three commercials during the Super Bowl. The first will reintroduce Doritos 3D, the second will announce a new product, Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix, and the remaining spot will feature Frito-Lay's broader chip portfolio. The growing star-studded cast of celebrities and former athletes will likely be second-to-none after all plans are made public.
Alright, alright, alright. If the pandemic has taught me anything, Doritos do make you more 3D. Employing the services of superstars Matthew McConaughey, Mindy Kaling and Jimmy Kimmel, Doritos went over the top to ensure sales for their new product don't go flat.
Frito-Lay continues to leverage the power of Hollywood by featuring Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Shaggy in their #ItWasntMe Super Bowl spot.
The final Frito-lay commercial will focus on their greater chip portfolio as brought to life by the astute story-telling of Marshawn Lynch. The hall-of-fame roster of former football athletes includes the Manning family, Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Deion Sanders and Jerome Bettis.
Using Jason Alexander, more commonly known as George Costanza, Tide turns the Seinfeld star into a sweatshirt. Working with the tagline "it's dirtier than it looks," the brand attempts to outline the less-than-hygienic daily usage we put our clothing through. The Procter & Gamble Co. brand made headlines earlier in the NFL season by creatively opening up a new sponsorship category related to hygienic jersey swaps.
Dawn and Swiffer
By spending most of our time inside, chores and keeping the home clean have certainly fallen by the wayside. Dawn and Swiffer are hoping to address the added responsibility for those who absorb the majority of the burden. The cleaning brands are encouraging everyone to work together as a team, and through communal collaboration, decreasing the "chore gap."
Amazon is back at it again. After "Alexa Lost Her Voice" garnered rave reviews, the brand has launched another Super Bowl ad, this time featuring actor Michael B. Jordan. Promoting Alexa's sleek new design, the commercial is a role reversal from a few year's prior seeing the smart speaker take control of Jordan's voice. For marketers with a keen eye, Amazon layered in Jordan's upcoming feature film that they produced called Without Remorse.
In the last 3-years, Pringles has featured a spokesperson to lead their campaign. Beginning with Bill Hader in 2018, followed by a smart speaker and most recently, the Rick and Morty crew. Always utilizing humour as the tone, the brand will stick with the theme of the past campaigns and focus on flavour-stacking.
Moving away from celebrity appearances, Pringles will focus in on a few comical settings whereby the stacking takes precedent.
After sitting on the sidelines for a few years, M&M's is back. Their last campaign featured a frustrated Christina Applegate driving around with the spokescandies, while promoting the newly released chocolate bars. The brand has stated that they will seek to “inspire people to find ways of connecting with each other” and make people smile after a tumultuous year.
In a newly released teaser, M&M's hints towards a gender reveal gone wrong. It's anyone's best guess how the spokescandies managed to upend the event this time.
M&M's second commercial will speak to coming together and settling our differences. Staying true to his apologetic Canadian roots, Dan Levy will star in the spot.
Last year, Mountain Dew relied on the astute acting skills of Bryan Cranston to promote their zero-sugar beverage. Doing his best Jack Nicholson impression, the commercial was a re-make of the horror classic, The Shining. Similar to the 2020, the initial teaser suggests a product release but this time with a brand new flavour.
Flipping the script, Mountain Dew will opt for a fan engagement strategy. Using John Cena as their spokesman, the brand is putting up a $1 million prize for the first person to tweet the correct number of bottles in the ad. The shrewd tactic will ensure fans are intimately engaged and likely result in multiple rewatches.
The Clydesdales are back! Well, sort of. In a spoof of the iconic Budweiser commercial, Sam Adams adds a Boston twist by introducing the new Wicked Hazy IPA with their "Your Cousin From Boston" campaign. The ad seeks to spark comedic relief for the audience through pure mayhem. However, the brand refrains from mentioning the word "Clydesdale" and the commercial will only be shown regionally in New York and Boston to avoid any mayhem on the business side.
After racking up a large bill last year by running four one-minute ads, AB InBev will return for Super Bowl LV in a similar fashion. The company plans to roll out another four-minutes of commercials featuring Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. Most notably, Budweiser, will break its 37-year advertising streak by directing it's Super Bowl budget towards COVID-19 relief efforts.
The first AB InBev brand to roll out their Super Bowl preview is Michelob Ultra. The brand strives to highlight the behind-the-scenes moments that make their roster of professional athletes successful. Leveraging superstars such as Anthony Davis, Alex Morgan, Serena Williams, Peyton Manning, Brooks Koepka and Jimmy Butler, Michelob Ultra intends to show how "keeping things light" can make the process as enjoyable as the end product.
Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade has released their *very* relatable teaser. Playing on the mantra of "when life gives you lemons," the brand rehashes how the pandemic disrupted virtually all settings and events in 2020. Continuing with the theme of turning a bad situation into a good one, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade will be offering consumers a chance to win a complimentary case through a Twitter sweepstakes using the hashtags #LemonsIntoLemonade and #Sweepstakes when there's a turnover during the game.
Bud Light is calling all legends! Resurrecting a few feature characters from the past, the brand is hoping to unite generations with a sense of nostalgia. The commercial will also serve as a promotional tool for their new loyalty program with the first 10,000 people who sign up get their name engraved on Bud Light brewery tanks in St. Lous.
Playing on theme of real versus fake, Michelob Ultra enlists (faux) Hollywood to set the tone for their new Organic Seltzer product. Using the Super Bowl to launch a product is not rare but it will be interesting to see how the product performs within the highly competitive and saturated category of hard seltzers.
For the first-time, the parent brand, Anheuser-Busch will release a corporate Super Bowl ad. The theme speaks to "Let's grab a beer" as less about the beverage and more about helping others and being by their side during times of need.
Bonus Brand: AB InBev's canned cocktail, Cutwater Spirits, will participate regionally. Taking a West Coast approach, the brand will showcase ads in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Seattle. On top of showcasing the beverages versatility, Cutwater will supplement the ad buy with digital takeovers, sweepstakes and a social media series starring Schitt's Creek Emily Hampshire.
The mortgage brand is set to blast off during Super Bowl LV. Rocket Mortgage will air two commercials with the first ad focusing on their app and frictionless mortgage application and the second will tout the benefits of using their independent brokers. With Tracy Morgan acting as the lead spokesman, and a few movie stars, athletes and influencers confirmed but not yet named, the creative direction still remains to be seen. To supplement the two ads, Rocket Mortgage will bring back their consumer engagement tool "Super Bowl Squares," which will boast two grand prizes of $500,000.
The international vehicle behemoth will produce three commercials for Super Bowl LV. Building on their recently debuted "Everybody In" campaign to raise awareness for EV and GM's battery platform, Will Ferrell steals the show yet again. With the support from Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina, Ferrell sarcastically mocks Norway's position as a world leader in EV technology and policy. GM also announced they would invest $27 billion towards EV and autonomous vehicle development as well as committing to launch 30 EV models by 2025.
Striking a similar comedic tone, the luxury car brand Cadillac, will run an Edward Scissorhands reboot featuring Timothée Chalamet as "Edgar Scisscorhands." With support from Winona Ryder as his caretaker, "Edgar" is able to alleviate the challenge of driving because of Lyriq's hands-free option.
In the name of the side hustle, website provider Squarespace, presents the "5-9." After an unremarkable year, the brand has decided to focus on promoting after-hours passion projects utilizing Dolly Parton as the star of the show.
The last two years, WeatherTech ran commercials featuring the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The commercials featured CEO David McNeil’s family dog, Scout, who unfortunately passed away due to a rare form of cancer. This year the brand will employ a theme of patriotism and promote their American made motto.
One of the most consistent advertisers has committed, yet again, to compete in the Big Game. Last year, Toyota, featured Cobie Smulders playing a hero role in the brand new Highlander. This year the brand will feature a real hero, Jessica Long. Showcasing the partnership between the brand and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee's, they tell Jessica's emotional and inspirational journey to becoming an elite athlete.
Sketchers is pushing it to the max with their Super Bowl LV ad. With a focus on promoting their "Max Cushioning" sneakers, they roll out superstar brand ambassador, Tony Romo, to bring the message to life. Fortunately for Sketchers, Romo will be in the booth calling the game, which should lead to the ad resonating with fans.
TurboTax is back for an 8th year consecutive Super Bowl. With tax season around the corner, the brand will showcase uncommon and strange tax loopholes in different states in comedic manner.
The luxury beer brand has tapped legendary musician, Lenny Kravitz, to bring their message to the Big Game. Stella Artois adopts a motivational theme by identifying that we all have been (and some still are) heartbeat billionaires. The concept highlights the average person has approximately 2.5 billion heartbeats in their lifetime and the brand wants us to spend it creating great memories - while enjoying an ice-cold Stella, of course.
Like many others, the Diageo beer brand is taking an inspirational approach to their Super Bowl ad spot. Featuring one of the G.O.A.T.'s, Joe Montana, Guinness is infusing a sense of resiliency for its fans and consumers to keep pushing through what they, and many others, have declared as the toughest year yet. Due to AB InBev's exclusive rights for the Big Game, the commercial will only be shown regionally in a few major markets such as Los Angeles, New York City, Boston and Chicago.
Ford will take a regional approach to this year's Super Bowl to focus their ad spend on areas that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic such as California, Texas, Michigan, Missouri and Florida. Utilizing the motto "#FinishStrong," the vehicle brand highlights how far we have come since COVID-19 initially disrupted our lives and motivates us to continue the battle. Ford has also committed to distribute over 25 million free masks over the next five weeks through their dealerships and non-profits.
After an all-star performance in 2020, which featured Bill Murray going back in time to his Groundhog days, Jeep is back in action. While last year's ad foreshadowed the year ahead, the brand strikes a more serious tone with their "The Middle" commercial. Bruce Springsteen narrates and appears in the spot while highlighting the rampant division in America. Using a small church in Lebanon, Kansas, which is the centre of mainland United States, Jeep seeks to reduce the divide through setting aside our differences and coming together in the middle.
Yogurt brand, Chobani, has confirmed their plans to produce a commercial during Super Bowl LV. Making the clear distinction from traditional Milk, Chobani plans to feature their Oat Milk product as brought to life through their popular "Almost Spilled" campaign. The ad will only be available in 11 major markets across America.
Joining forces with the video game powerhouse, Fortnite, Verizon intends to create a unique experience beyond the four quarters of the football game. The telecom brand has built a 5G stadium within Fortnite for gamers to connect with their favourite NFL stars. During a few pre-determined dates and times, popular gamers will host a live-stream at the digital stadium. On top of the Super Bowl ad and following the event, Verizon will host a virtual "Big Concert for Small Business" concert hosted by Tiffany Haddish that will include Luke Bryan, Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile and more. The show will be livestreamed on numerous platforms including Twitter, Twitch, YouTube and TikTok.
The online e-trading platform will be back on the sidelines for Super Bowl LV. After sporadic appearances over the past 8 years, E*Trade is hoping to "Kick your Finances into Shape." Leveraging the "Your The Best" soundtrack from Karate Kid, the brand intends to capitalize on the precarious economic conditions and shift to personal investing.
Super Bowl Ad Newcomers
The first rookie to announce their intention of running a Super Bowl ad is Fiverr. The online platform for freelancers will build off their recent campaign, "It Starts Here." The brand will leverage the infamous Four Seasons Total Landscaping to showcase how Fiverr played a key role and acted as a great resource during the pandemic for businesses. With the gig economy booming, Fiverr will look to position itself as the leader in the relatively untapped market.
After being acquired by PepsiCo last year, Rockstar intends to re-position its brand as the caffeinated beverage category has been flooded with new competition. The brands first Super Bowl commercial will feature superstar Lil Baby, as well as shine a spotlight on "everyday rock stars" such as a first responders, medical professionals and entrepreneurs. The teaser does not giveaway the creative direction but expect a more inclusive tone mixed with fun, relatability and relevance.
Mayonnaise and football might be the combination we needed but never asked for. After the sponsorship spectacle that ensued after the Duke's Mayo Bowl, Hellmann's has announced their plans add flavour to the Super Bowl. Although it's likely unrelated, we are here for the mayonnaise battles.
In partnership with their parent brand, Unilever and their Future Food initiative, the "Make Taste, Not Waste" campaign - with help from Amy Schumer - will focus on healthier eating and reducing the environmental impact of food production. Hellmann's will also donate $100,000 to ReFED and work alongside Harvard Law to develop discourse and policy around food date labels.
With frictionless and convenience becoming the norm for B2C brands, another Super Bowl rookie will be looking to push their brand into overdrive. Vroom, the online marketplace for buying, selling and trading vehicles, will be looking to highlight the torture-less process of using their platform.
Someone's trash is another person's treasure. This idea is at the heart of the start-up marketplace, Mercari. The brand attempts to reflect the Japanese act and philosophy, Kintsugi, which is to repair broken pottery in manner that makes it stronger and more beautiful afterwards. The symbolism is consistent with connecting unwanted items with new owners. In a fitting Super Bowl preview, the commercial highlights the app-based product while a remastered version of "Hello, Goodbye" by the Beatles overlays the ad.
The burrito brand is upsizing! During Super Bowl LV, Chipotle, will release their "Can a Burrito Save The World" ad. With digital sales being a bright spot for the brand in 2020, they intend to keep up the momentum through a multi-faceted approach to game day. For every purchase through Chipotle's website, app or third-party delivery service, the brand will donate $1 towards the National Young Farmers Coalition, which is an advocacy group that seeks to raise the profile of independent family farms. To add proverbial guac to their donation, consumers will also have the chance to round up their order cost to the nearest dollar. With a strong focus on supporting farmers, Chipotle will provide benefits to the consumer by waiving delivery fees on orders received through their website or app.
I mean, who doesn't enjoy a Wayne's World skit?! Uber Eats will bring back Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in their famous roles as Wayne and Garth to bring the brand to life. With a special guest appearance from Super Bowl veteran, Cardi B, Uber Eats will promote ordering local. Continuing on the trend of ambassador marketing, Uber Eats has leveraged the acting chops of Mark Hamill and Patrick Stewart, and the athleticism of Simone Biles in recent commercials.
The Super Bowl is getting a green thumb. The lawn care brand, Scotts Miracle-Gro, will be participating in the Super Bowl for the first time. With gardening becoming more popular as time-at-home has increased, Scotts will leverage celebrity appearances and a "keep growing" mantra to capitalize on the frenzy. Needless to say, they did not disappoint. With appearances from Martha Stewart, John Travolta (and his daughter Ella), Nascar driver Kyle Busch, Leslie David Baker (Stanley from The Office) and Peloton instructor Emma Lovewell, this might be the strangest group of celebrities ever assembled. The commercial will promote a gardening contest with a call-to-action for consumers to text the number on the screen.
Given their sports heavy marketing strategy, it is surprising that State Farm's first commercial will be during Super Bowl LV. Spokesman Jake (wearing fresh khakis, of course) teases a new addition to the dynamic duo of Rodgers and Mahomes. Will it be Brady? Gronk? Kelce? Only time will tell but rest assured it will make a splash.
The glucose monitoring system, Dexcom, will showcase its diabetes management system during the Big Game. Leveraging the marketing appeal of Nick Jonas, who has Type 1 Diabetes, the brand will distinguish their painless app-based product from traditional finger sticks.
2020 was the year of the creator and Logitech hopes to capitalize on this movement with their first Super Bowl commercial. The "Defy Logic" campaign speaks to the activists and artists who pursue non-traditional avenues and freely express themselves without conviction. With Lil Nas X spearheading the ad, there is likely no better celebrity/influencer that aligns more with being true to yourself and acting as a role model for the next generation of creators.
The direct-to-consumer personal care brand for men is looking for a Big Game boost. Dr. Squatch calls for the expression of inner-manliness while embracing the chaotic hilarity ad style one of their competitors often utilizes (*cough,* Old Spice). Should we expect a petty Soulja Boy, "he copied my flow" tweet from the man on a horse?
The award for most controversial Super Bowl commercial goes to...*drumroll please*...Robinhood! With the brand currently embroiled in a complex public dispute, Robinhood will push forward with their first Big Game ad spot. Echoing their mission of democratizing investing with the mantra of "We are all Investors" will likely cause a raucous stir. Everyone send their best wishes to the Robinhood social media and communications team.
The speedy sandwich maker will be in play for Super Bowl LV. Jimmy John's has created a plot that introduces comedian Brad Garrett as "Tony Bolognavich," the anti-hero sandwich mob boss. The brand intends to contrast their quality, standards and customization with competitors who "cut corners." The 30-second ad will run nationally with select markets such as Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis, Omaha and St. Louis receiving the 60-second version.
If there was ever a time for a job site to advertise during the Super Bowl, the time would be now. With millions having lost their jobs due to the pandemic, Indeed will run its first Big Game commercial. The ad highlights the emotional rollercoaster an individual goes through from unemployment to employed. Needless to say, this will resonate with many and elicit a wide-range of emotional responses. Striking a more serious tone than previous job site commercials, Indeed will utilize the ad spot to jump start a new campaign that will highlight their mission of getting people jobs, while leveraging the hashtag #NowHiring to curate open roles.
The Swedish-based, "buy now, pay later" firm, Klarna, is going abroad with their confirmation of a Super Bowl commercial. The service allows users to split payments without incurring interest charges, while suggesting credit card companies are harmful to their consumer base. Using Maya Rudolph as the spokeswoman, the brand takes a humorous approach to shopping and payment processing.
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's
After a year of social distancing and indoor events being cancelled, many have gone back to their roots and explored the outdoors. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's will ride that momentum with their Super Bowl ad. The retail chain will continue to promote the outdoors as a way to connect, build relationships, grow personally and enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings.
The mortgage brand is going big with their first Super Bowl ad. After a stellar year, Guaranteed Rate will go head-to-head against competitor Rocket Mortgage using its deep line-up of athlete brand ambassadors. Including UFC’s Dustin Poirier and Rose Namajunas, NHL’s Seth Jones, Nascar’s Ryan Newman and U.S. figure skater Starr Andrews along with Erik Weihenmayer (the first blind man to climb the summit of Mount Everest), the theme of inspiration and positivity aligns well with their current "Believe You Will" campaign.
The fantasy sports and sports-betting industries are booming and DraftKings intends to capitalize on the momentum. Deciding to up the ante last minute and purchase two ad buys because of the Brady-Mahomes match-up, the brand will run a 4th quarter activation on their app-based platform. The commercials will air during the 2nd and 3rd quarters and serve as a call-to-action for consumers to make a free bet during the final quarter. To incentivize participation, each entrant will receive a prize with the payouts being anywhere from $3-$25,000 and the top prize being