We’re Just Here for the Commercials

Each year at AMA Omaha we assemble an expert panel to discuss (and occasionally roast) the new crop of ads that punctuate the Super Bowl. In that respect, this year is no different. Of course, we’re going virtual, but the pandemic has greater implications on the ads than that. Major brands like Budweiser, Hyundai and Coke have decided to sit this one out. Others are betting that they can make their gameday debut and hit just the right note in these…interesting…times.


The Viral Elephant in the Room

There’s always been risk associated with getting ad messaging just right. Super Bowl ads, especially. The audience is vast, the price is high. This year that risk is amplified. COVID has forced many brands to switch up their strategies as the months have worn on. We got enough of “we’re all in this together…buy a car” in 2020.

Accordingly, some brands have decided their dollars are best used elsewhere. While Anheuser-Busch will be advertising Bud Light and others, they will forgo showing a new Budweiser commercial in lieu of donating to a vaccine-awareness ad campaign. Coca-Cola isn’t showing an ad in order to “ensure we are investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times.

Other Super Bowl ad veteran brands decided to forge ahead, with varying nods to the current state of the world. Tide and Jason Alexander let us know that our clothes are “dirtier than they look.” Even though Matthew McConaughey has been feeling a bit flat lately, Doritos are able to bring him back to life. Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade called a spade a spade – and 2020 a lemon.

Every ad so far has everyone uncomfortably mask-less, perhaps an indicator of optimism for how 2021 would play out when these ads were shot months ago.


Newcomers to Watch

Robinhood, the digital brokerage app that promises to “let the people trade,” will continue with its first Super Bowl ad despite recent controversy.

Scott’s Miracle Gro is encouraging people to “keep this backyard thing going” by advertising a contest to win a lawn and garden makeover.

Uber Eats and Door Dash, quarantine staples for many, are both debuting ads this year. Uber Eats reunited Garth and Wayne while Door Dash will use Sesame Street to advertise new services.


What to Expect

Despite the changes to the usual lineup and general changes to the look and feel of this year’s game, expect our usual assortment of good, bad and truly ugly ads. One trend to watch this year is the increasing importance of non-traditional channels to increase exposure. More people view the ads online than they do on TV, of course, but social is not the only “game” in town. Verizon, for example, will be sponsoring gaming sessions on Twitch and livestreaming a postgame concert.

We look forward to discussing this year’s winners and losers with you in this interactive session! If nothing else, this year’s broadcast will be blissfully free of presidential campaign advertisements, as it should be.