Last week, we highlighted advertising for the upcoming Super Bowl, which occurred this past Sunday (February 7, 2021). Now that the dust has settled, assessing Super Bowl LV advertising is our focus.


In Three Parts: Assessing Super Bowl LV Advertising

We divide this post into three parts: (1) Companies not advertising on the Super Bowl telecast. (2) Qualitatively assessing Super Bowl LV advertising. (3) Quantitatively assessing Super Bowl LV advertising. 

Companies Not Advertising on the Super Bowl Telecast

Due to the economic effects of COVD-19, several firms regularly advertising on the Super Bowl did not do so in 2021. And some of those firms invested the money saved in COVID-19-related activities. For example, as reported by Gerry Smith for Bloomberg:

For the first time in 37 years, Budweiser didn’t air a Super Bowl ad. Instead, it will donate to a vaccine-awareness ad campaign. Its owner, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, still bought ad time for other brands, like Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, and Michelob Ultra. Coca-Cola, struggling with the closing of movie theaters and restaurants, said it sat out this year to invest “in the right resources during these unprecedented times.”

PepsiCo didn’t have a Super Bowl ad for its flagship product. Though it sponsored the halftime show and ran spots for Mountain Dew and Frito-Lay. Hyundai  passed on the big game after winning praise for a funny Boston-themed commercial last year. The timing of vehicle launches played a role in that decision, but as the carmaker made its marketing plans, the pandemic had created too much uncertainty.

Indeed, the auto industry really retrenched on Super Bowl LV ads. According to E.J. Schultz for Advertising Age:

Five brands advertising in last year’s game — Hyundai, Genesis, Audi, Kia, and Porsche — confirmed they were sitting out. Other brands running ads in recent years were also a no-go for national ads, including Ford, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen. 

To learn more, view the following video from the Wall Street Journal.


Qualitatively Assessing Super Bowl LV Advertising

Here, we look at some expert opinions about Super Bowl LV commercials.

Humor was big. While risky was not. Alexandra Bruell, for WSJ, notes that:

Super Bowl advertisers were cautious. Amid a global pandemic, deep political divisions, and movements for social justice. A handful talked about their role in making the world better. While other ads hinted at life during the pandemic, most went for laughs and escapism.

On the Friday before Super Bowl 2021, various staff from Advertising Age identified five ads “you need to know about”:

  • M&Ms: Come Together The M&M characters are Super Bowl regulars and have appeared in the game five times since 2012. They returned for 2021 alongside “Schitt’s Creek” actor Dan Levy in a spot that positions the candy as an “apology tool” for missteps and bad behavior. 
  • Michelob Ultra: All-Star Cast In January, Michelob Ultra debuted what it’s billing as the first national USDA-certified organic hard seltzer, so for the Super Bowl, it went all out with celebrities.
  • Amazon: Alexa’s Body — Amazon used the Super Bowl to debut its latest Echo device, and it looks (and sounds) a lot like Michael B. Jordan.
  • Uber Eats: Wayne’s World and Cardi B’s Shameless Manipulation: Eat Local For its Big Game appearance, Uber Eats resurrected the classic “Saturday Night Live” skit “Wayne’s World.” With a cameo from Cardi B.
  • ViacomCBS: A Mountain of Entertainment Next month, ViacomCBS will debut Paramount+ (replacing CBS All Access). And it used the Super Bowl with an all-star cast partaking in a massive expedition.

And with regard to diversity and inclusion, Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi reports that:

Brands like Michelob Ultra, Amazon, Logitech, Squarespace, Klarna and DoorDash cast Black actors and actresses in lead roles. Other companies like Indeed and Robinhood tapped a mix of genders and ethnicities for ensemble casts; WeatherTech featured real employees from various racial backgrounds; Mercari’s ad included a mixed-race couple; while brands like Scotts Miracle-Gro and Uber Eats made sure to include celebrities of color alongside non-Black or Hispanic actors. 

Finally, here is Ad Age’s review of commercials by quarter.


Quantitatively Assessing Super Bowl LV Advertising

Let us look at various quantitative measures.

Size of TV audience — The hefty advertising rates per 30 seconds are based on the expected audience. Unfortunately, preliminary numbers from Samba TV indicate a sharp drop in viewership. Review the following chart. This will not please advertisers.

Quantitatively Assessing Super Bowl LV Advertising
Source: Samba TV

Viewer ratings USA Today produces an Ad Meter. Based on numeric viewer ratings. For 2021, these ads rate best:

  1. Rocket Mortgage — “Certain Is Better” with Tracy Morgan, Dave Bautista & Liza Koshy
  2. Rocket Mortgage — “Certain Is Better” with Tracy Morgan and Joey Bosa,
  3. Amazon — “Alexa’s Body” with Michael B. Jordan,
  4. M&M’s — “Come Together,”

   These ads rate worst: 

56. Robinhood — We Are All Investors,”

57. Oatly — “Wow Wow No Cow,”

Advertising Age’s digital share of voiceAd Age partnered with to analyze digital activity across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube surrounding Super Bowl ads. That shows ads that specifically resonated online/socially.” Quantitatively Assessing Super Bowl LV Advertising

How the Super Bowl audience compares

To put Super Bowl advertising into a global perspective, the Super Bowl attracts an audience only a fraction the size of other leading events. Review the infographic from Statista.

Assessing Super Bowl LV Advertising


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