The New England Patriots are not the only ones making a return appearance on the Super Bowl. A number of big-name advertisers are also back, putting their best efforts out on what is one of the last appointment television events left on broadcast media.
The upcoming game broadcast on CBS is expected to land an audience of more than 100 million viewers and the price for a 30-second ad again hit new highs, reportedly between $5.3 to $5.4 million.
As the hours counted down to the kickoff, CBS was still reported to have some commercial inventory available. Google bought in with two mystery ads, just days before the game.
The ads that had been released and previewed before the game showed a number of repeating themes from past years. Since they are paying more that $10 milion per minute, one can’t blame advertisers for leaning on big names and familiar themes.
There will be humor (and stars)
Planters sends its Mr. Peanut on a big-budget chase to save retired Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez from the indignity of snacking on kale chips while watching the game. The CGI character is making his first Super Bowl appearance in the ads, by agency VaynerMedia.
Like many marketers lately, Planters is backing up the ad with a social media effort that includes a contest on Twitter giving away A-Rod memorabilia and other prizes.
Amazon, which had one of the most talked-about ads of last year’s Super Bowl, enlisted Harrison Ford, twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly and other celebrities to act out a few rejected Internet of Things applications for Alexa. The ad was created by agency Lucky Generals, which also did last year’s Super Bowl ad featuring stars auditioning to replace Alexa’s voice.
PepsiCo is loading all its brand ads during the Super Bowl with music stars, including a clever use of pop musician Michael Bublé to promote the Bubly, the sparkling water brand it introduced at last year’s game. Pepsi brand ads will feature rapper Cardi B and Doritos snacks will feature Chance the Rapper and The Backstreet Boys in a spot by Goody, Silverstein.
Pepsi, a major sponsor of the game, will sponsor the half-time show and many of its brands have ongoing activations near Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in the week leading to the game.
There will be causes (and stars)
After a couple of years of ads that hit upon hot-button causes such as women’s rights, immigration and more, don’t expect a repeat of last year’s Martin Luther King ad for trucks. Marketers advertising on Super Bowl LIII appear to be avoiding anything that could approach controversy.
One exception is the ad launching a new campaign by the website Bumble, starring tennis star Serena Williams. The spot, from agency FlyteVu, highlights the site’s female-empowerment message with Williams giving career advice in no-nonsense terms: “Don’t wait to be given power, because here’s what they don’t tell you: We already have it.”
Kia Motors took aim directly at the Super Bowl ad excess with its ad, touting its launch of a scholarship program, The Great Unknowns. The program will offer needs based scholarships; Kia’s agency, David & Goliath, created the ad and its teaser spot.
Microsoft also chose to tug at the emotions, using children and a good cause in its spot. The ad, created by the IPG Microsoft-dedicated shop m:united//McCann, features young gamers using Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller to play games despite their disabilities.
Verizon, which aired an ad highlighting first responders during last year’s game, is doing it again, but on a bigger scale. The telecom is airing a spot, “The Team that Wouldn’t be Here,” featuring NFL players who nearly died in accidents and the first responders who cared for them. The spot, from Verizon’s agency McCann, is part of a larger effort including social media, online videos, a website, a fundraiser to help first responders and a documentary that will air on CBS Sports the day after the Super Bowl.
It wasn’t that long ago that Bob Dylan caught hell for appearing in a Victoria’s Secret ad but since then, his music has appeared in other commercials with no pushback from fans. This spot is not likely to bring him grief either; Anheuser-Busch uses Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” as the soundtrack for an ad showcasing its green bona fides. The Budweiser spot, from agency David, brings out the iconic Clydesdale horses to show off the brewer’s commitment to using wind power.
The brewer is also donating clean electricity to the city of Atlanta to offset the power use during the Super Bowl.
Reboots and remakes (and stars)
The New England Patriots’ return appearance on the Super Bowl is hardly the only repeat that will be featured in the big game broadcast.
Procter & Gamble had the biggest success of last year’s Super Bowl with its meta campaign “it’s a Tide Ad,” which mashed up ads for other P&G products with spots for Tide detergent. This year, it’s lampooning slasher movies with a series of spots starring Scream and Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar. In the spots from Saatchi & Saatchi, she gets her “killer skin” from P&G’s Olay skincare.
Stella Artois appeared in last year’s Super Bowl with a straight-up message touting its sponsorship of the non-profit water.org, delivered straight to the camera by Matt Damon. This year, it chose a more whimsical delivery. The spot, from Stella agency Mother, brings back the characters of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & The City and The Big Lebowski’s The Dude. Both pass on their usual drinks, cosmopolitan and white Russian, to order a beer instead.
What are the ads that will stand out in this year’s game? Share your thoughts in the comments below!