When it comes to the biggest sporting event in America, one towers above the rest — and traditionally, makes for an enormous event in marketing, too. But in the wake of 2020, as with so many other live events, a lot will be different this year. So what can we expect this weekend, and how might it impact marketing for the rest of the year and beyond?
Newcomers and Ad Highlights
This year, some businesses are staking millions for the first time to try to reach audiences potentially bigger than any they’ve ever had. It’s a big bet, so picking a unique angle and telling a compelling, memorable story is more important than ever.
The job search website Indeed decided to build an ad around the hardships faced by many over the past year. By directly addressing the difficulties many have had with job loss in the pandemic, Indeed aims to be relatable, inspiring, and to demonstrate how they can help those seeking work.
Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade
Humor is another effective way of addressing hardships, which is why Bud Light’s ad for their seltzer lemonade is so enticing. Since dunking on 2020 was a universal past time, creating a story around how tough the year was with a twist of wit helps the medicine go down with a bit of laughter.
When times are universally tough, you might also take the route Squarespace did and envision a different time altogether. Rather than incorporate pandemic realities into their ad, the company decided to take another 2020 viral hit — and timeless legend — and make her their centerpiece. Dolly Parton rose to the level of selfless savior for many last year, so having her rewrite a classic tune to inspire people to dream might be just what the doctor ordered for a memorable ad.
Nostalgia, viral trends, and community building were all on the agenda for the Uber Eats team. Their ad, featuring a Wayne’s World throwback and Cardi B cameo, is not only funny, tongue-in-cheek, and speaking to multiple generations all in one ad, but they also managed to include a societal message, as well. Because of the hardships faced by so many local restaurants due to COVID-19, a nod to eating local shows that Uber Eats cares without directly addressing the pandemic and risking a commercial that leaves viewers saddened.
Not every memorable reference from 2020 involves the pandemic, so while the full ad hasn’t been release yet, it looks like Fiverr is taking the approach of “inside joke” for their centerpiece. Fiverr will be featuring Marie Siravo, the owner of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, in their ad — and by teasing the ad with just that, the company is lengthening the lore and reach of their campaign, too.
Each year, during the biggest broadcasts of live events, there are global companies who always make an appearance. Except in 2021, nothing is a given anymore.
Coca-Cola, for example, has advertised during the premiere football game every year since 2006, but decided to sit this year out. The company says they want to invest in “the right resources” at this time — a tactic not uncommon for many businesses after COVID-19 drastically changed the economic landscape.
Olay participated in game day advertising over the past two years, but in 2021, announced they will focus their attention on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, instead. This aligns with the company’s values to emphasize messaging around women in the STEM field, which also strengthens that message externally.
Anheuser-Busch opted out of their annual Budweiser ad campaign to instead direct funds to the Ad Council, to help spread the message for Americans to get a coronavirus vaccination. This effort towards investing in public health is not unique to Anheuser-Busch; a number of businesses are rerouting budget they’d put into advertising for giant events towards humanitarian and community efforts.
So what does this all mean for the world of marketing long-term? There are a few trends that we may see carry forward into the future.
First, as companies recognize that there are simply no givens to be taken for granted, they may continue to be selective when deciding what events or causes to advertise with. Similar to Olay, if a company must choose between a large number of eyeballs on an ad, versus the right eyeballs on an ad (i.e. the target audience), they may opt for quality over quantity.
Additionally, as COVID-19 continues to be a factor in everyday life, businesses may look for ways to promote community and support those most in need. When giving back is a core value for your business, investing in that value can make a world of difference for your employees and community.
Finally, messaging will continue to require a deft team to navigate murky waters. Balancing recognition of people’s realities with light-heartedness and uplifting themes will be difficult, but creatives can get it done.