Super Bowl 55 – Advertising’s New Normal

Last night’s Super Bowl was the first during which Americans were discouraged from hosting large in-home gatherings.  Advertisers showed they were cognizant of the situation with ads that addressed the “new normal,” but there were some surprises. Here were the trends:

2020 Was Actually a Great Year for Some First Time Advertisers

  • Door Dash went big on production with the full cast from Sesame Street.
  • Uber Eats brought back Wayne’s World, but this time with Cardi B and Tik Tok
  • Rocket Mortgage invested in a full sponsorship as their business was boosted by historically low interest rates
  • Scott Miracle-Gro invested in their first national ad packed with mega talent and a giveaway

After a Divisive & Challenging Year, Some Brands Wanted to Inspire with Anthemic Spots

  • Toyota included a nod to the special Olympics
  • Jeep showed a 2-minute spot highlighting our country’s divides
  • The NFL paid tribute to Vince Lombardi with a mash up of his previous speeches
  • Ford encouraged us to stay together as we get through this global pandemic
  • One of our favorites was Indeed’s “The Rising” hoping to inspire Americans looking for work

As Always, There Were Spots That Provided Levity, Some Through Retro Characters

  • Cadillac’s Scissorhandsfree reprised Edward Scissorhands to promote a self-driving Cadillac cross over.
  • Amy Schumer made an appearance for Hellman’s Mayonnaise inspiring people to waste less
  • Tide put Jason Alexander in a hoodie to promote their new heavy duty 10x detergent
  • A determined Will Farrell went on a quest to get to Norway in GM’s “No Way Norway” spot
  • Michael B. Jordan played every woman’s new favorite Alexa device.

Advertisers Tried to Address Current Events

  • Fiverr’s “Opportunity Knocks” poked fun at the infamous Four Seasons Landscaping debacle.
  • Reddit’s 5 second ad and Robinhood’s “We are all investors” followed the Game Stop stock roller coaster.
  • Squarespace’s remake of Dolly Parton’s 9-5 paid homage to those with a side hustle working 5-9

Streaming Platforms Grew Their Presence

  • CBS capitalized on its own airtime by debuting Paramount + in a series of ads featuring A-listers and characters from shows and movies that will live on the platform.
  • Discovery + and Disney +also promoted content

T-Mobile and Verizon went head-to-head as 5G Behemoths

  • T-Mobile featured talent like Anthony Anderson, his momma and the cast of the Voice with a cameo from Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce
  • Verizon targeted gamers with the “Can’t Blame the Lag” spot featuring a digital version of Samuel L. Jackson

This year in Super Bowl advertising was marked by “party crashers” with their first ever ads. While this was exciting to see, we did miss the usual suspects: Budweiser Clydesdales, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Hyundai.

Super Bowl advertising has developed into a fine barometer for American culture: ads are indicators of moods of the populace. It’s easier than ever before to track these moods through social media.

Let’s hope that next year is a return to the competitive ad space that is Super Bowl, and creative homages to our normal way of life we’ve all grown to miss so much under quarantine.

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