Millions of viewers tune into the Super Bowl every year for the famously good advertising, and brands leverage this fact by spending big to reach a huge portion of the public with a 30-second clip. At turns spectacular, humorous, poignant and sometimes controversial, Super Bowl advertising gets more innovative every year to capture the attention of fans between plays and others who are watching solely for the ads.
The ads that will run before and during the broadcast of the 55th Super Bowl this February promise to be as evolutionary as any other year’s, if not more so, given the continuing impact of the pandemic. Below, the experts of Forbes Agency Council share their predictions about what they expect to see in Super Bowl ads this year.
1. The Appearance Of Pandemic-Related Buzzwords
There will be a stronger focus on online businesses, and companies that don’t offer online shopping will emphasize the latest buzzwords: “contactless,” “touchless” and “delivery.” We can all probably play “Super Bowl bingo” by listening for phrases such as “unprecedented,” “in these challenging times” and “the new normal.” It should be interesting. – Chelsey Pendock, Innovision Advertising
2. Themes Of Lightheartedness, Hope And Warmth
It’s no secret that the general theme of 2020 was “everyone can’t wait for it to be over.” To kick off 2021, we expect to see the typical funny ads, but with more empathy, unity and hope sprinkled in. It’s clear that this is what the country needs right now with Covid-19 and division over the election, so it’ll be interesting to see how ads reflect this. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH
3. Greater Advertising Accountability
Advertising accountability via specific performance metrics will start replacing “water cooler” creative impact and social virality as measures of success and ultimate ROI for such an enormous ad buy. Advertisers will also demand greater transparency into how that impact is calculated, as they need every media dollar driving positive outcomes on the bottom line. – Brian Handrigan, Advocado
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4. Smaller Companies Spending Less To Compete With Bigger Brands
With the Super Bowl being made available for live streaming on numerous channels, apps and platforms, the advertising possibilities are nearly infinite. This will allow smaller companies to better compete without having to spend millions (though still likely a profuse amount of money) on advertising. – Larry Gurreri, Sosemo LLC
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5. More Interactive Ads
The ads are going to have to be more creative or interactive. More people than ever are going to watch the game on mobile devices, so that will make them less likely to actually sit through ads. More than ever, the ads will have to grab people immediately—not in 30 seconds, not in 10 seconds and maybe not even in five seconds, but immediately. – Danny Star, Website Depot
6. A Focus On Real-Time Experiences
There is a huge opportunity to focus on real-time experiences during the game. Think “Touchdown Deals” on social media and in-commercial calls to action such as “Text XYZ before halftime to be entered.” The real winners will be those creative brands that do low-budget, user-generated content campaigns showing real people. Customers need to feel connected to a brand now more than ever, so immersive experiences could be game changers. – Bernard May, National Positions
7. Brands Leaking Ads Focused On Covid-19
Super Bowl ads will evolve in two ways this year. First, there will be a creative focus on Covid-19, especially as no one will be watching the game in-stadium. Some ads will be heartfelt and some funny, but also watch for ads that rally for a cause (such as donations), making it easier to measure their impact. Second, more brands will likely leak ads prior to their game day spot as they battle for consumer attention. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures
8. Impacts Of Potential Postponement On Creative
Due to an uptick in Covid-19 cases among players and teams, media buyers are saying there is a contingency plan in place to potentially play the Super Bowl later in February if needed. A change in timing will make it difficult for some advertisers to plan their creative. That said, it isn’t stopping most advertisers from making commitments, as nearly 80% of CBS’s commercial slots reportedly sold out. – Dennis Cook, Gamut. Smart Media from Cox.
9. More Conscientious Messaging
All of the top ad spots have already been purchased for this year’s Super Bowl, so demand has not changed. What will change is the message. Typically, these spots are dominated by beverage and snack companies (Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Doritos, etc.). These ads will need to reflect social distancing for the first time. Showing large Super Bowl celebrations could land you on the wrong side of viral. – T. Maxwell, eMaximize
10. More Integrated Mobile Marketing
My prediction is that many of the ads will address the commonalities of 2020: Unemployment or working from home, Zoom calls, food and grocery deliveries, political exhaustion and important social causes. Since all fans will be watching from home, expect to see a higher rate of integrated mobile marketing where viewers can instantly engage with the brand via their phones. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint
11. Actors Wearing Masks
Super Bowl ads will most likely include people who wear masks and highlight the convenience of shopping at home and pick-up services. The ads that will stand out will highlight strength in adversity, creating a common goal of compliance and a “see it through to the end” mentality. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions
12. Brands Illustrating How They Fuel Human Connection
We will see a heavy emphasis on human connection and how people can use a brand’s product to maintain or improve valued relationships with their family and friends. As the Covid-19 pandemic prevents many from physically being with the important people in their lives, brands must step up and illustrate how they can help fill the void. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack Group
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member