Each winter, one of the biggest athletic spectacles in the U.S. unfolds amid much fanfare: the Super Bowl.
Alongside all the cheering, face paint, and touchdowns, there’s another type of spectacle: the most ambitious (and expensive) advertising of the year. Indeed, of the 100 million people who tune in to watch the Super Bowl, a big portion are there mostly — or only — to watch brands’ blockbuster ads.
Every year, brands are becoming more creative and treating the Super Bowl not just as an opportunity for a single 30-second spot, but rather the chance for an entire marketing campaign. Here’s a look at what to expect when it comes to 2020 Super Bowl advertising, from veteran brands, to advertising newcomers, to the social media aspect.
2020 Super Bowl ads
Viewers no longer have to wait until game day to learn which brands bought air time. AdAge has published an extensive list of which major brands are advertising. This year, we can expect spots from a range of brands, from Budweiser and Cheetos, to Audi and Hyundai, to presidential incumbents and hopefuls like Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg.
In many cases, brands even release a short teaser of their ads ahead of time, previewing the content much like a Hollywood blockbuster does with a trailer. “Brands want consumers to love the teaser so much that they’ll be looking for their spot during the game,” an advertising executive told Fast Company in an article titled Why Super Bowl ad teasers have become as important as the commercials.
Some brands have been advertising during the big game for as long as we can remember — it’s hard to recall a game without a Budweiser spot. But 2020 will bring a crop of newcomers, too: “Little Caesars pizza chain, Facebook, and the running brand Saucony will buy their first Super Bowl ads ever this year,” Reuters reports. These newcomers aren’t easing into it, either: Little Caesar’s 30-second spot will feature comedian Rainn Wilson of “The Office,” and Facebook’s ad will feature action hero Syllvester Stalone and legendary jokester Chris Rock. “The ad during the big game in February will be part of the company’s ‘More Together’ campaign, which it launched in May to get people talking about Facebook Groups,” writes CNBC.
A unique platform
In a world where so many consumers now watch shows on demand, the Super Bowl is a rare live opportunity for advertisers. Far more than half of Americans now subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, a trend that has taken viewers away from live TV and diminished the impact that traditional TV advertisements can have. All this makes the Super Bowl’s live audience — 100 million viewers for CBS in 2019 — not only enormous, but exceptional.
Of course, even the Super Bowl is affected by trends. The 2019 live viewership numbers “were down 5 percent from last year’s comparable measurement,” according to The Wrap, and many viewers tuned in to the game via streaming platforms. As this trend continues, we’ll likely see brands adjust their content for the new environment. For example, many brands already “leak” their ads online before the big game, swapping secrecy for online clicks and views.
In a world where ads can have second lives online, it’s no longer enough to simply air a commercial and move on. An entirely new brand ecosystem has emerged, with complementary content and audience reactions dominating Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. Twitter has dubbed this phenomenon #BrandBowl, giving brands, marketing experts, and consumers a place to measure and comment on ads’ success.
One 2020 example? On January 22, Planters published a short, goofy clip announcing the death of mascot Mr. Peanut. The clip created a major stir and much chatter online, and consumers can expect a follow-up commercial during The Super Bowl. “We think it will make more sense after people have a chance to watch the spot during the Super Bowl’s third quarter,” a Planters spokesperson recently told The Today Show. (Note: Planters paused social advertising for the campaign following the untimely passing of NBC legend Kobe Bryant, but is staying the course with its plans for game day.)
Another example? Snickers isn’t just creating a commercial this year — they’re also creating jewelry. The snack brand has a Hungriest Player campaign underway to celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, which entails a Snickers-themed diamond chain that’s worn by players.
What ads and marketing campaigns are you most excited for when it comes to Super Bowl LIV?