Why the 2021 Super Bowl Will Look Different This Year

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The Super Bowl, famously known as the biggest day of the year for advertisers around the country, will not look the same in the era of COVID-19 and political unrest. Some of the largest brands known to advertise annually at the event, including Coca-Cola, Ford, Hyundai, and Olay, have decided to take a break from buying ad space this year.

Why is it that brands are choosing to skip out on 2021? The year in which many hoped for the virus and political upheaval to come to an end. Advertisers are scared to miss the mark in a world that is so divided and hurting. An advertisement that was successful pre-pandemic can be taken the wrong way during a time when unemployment is high and mental/physical health concerns are rising.

Brands are aware that it is common knowledge that a 30-second time-slot at the Super Bowl costs around five million dollars. As Coca-Cola said in their statement regarding why they will not be participating in the Super Bowl, “we want to ensure we are investing in the right resources during this unprecedented time.” A valid point during a time where donations are crucial to support the mass production of vaccines, the millions of Americans who are unemployed, and the social issues that came to light in 2020.

As the pandemic nears a year of prevalence in the United States, many of us are used to wearing masks, social distancing, and consistently sanitizing. After a year of these rituals, it may feel strange to see ads where people aren’t following CDC guidelines. Brands have a tough choice to make as they decide whether or not to acknowledge the pandemic, consistently referred to as “the new normal” in their advertisement.

With social issues being at the forefront of conversations in 2020 and now in 2021, brands have a decision to make about advertising in the 2021 Super Bowl. Brands with even larger outlets have been held to a higher standard and expectation to speak out because of their considerable influence. Suppose brands choose to gloss over these issues during an event as big as the 2021 Super Bowl. In that case, they could receive backlash for not using their platform responsibly. If brands do acknowledge the issues, they could also receive backlash for spending money on the ad space instead of directly donating to the cause. Talk about the pressure!

Although many brands have dropped out from participating and advertising in the Super Bowl this year, many new brands are expected to debut. In light of this, it makes room for smaller companies and brands to take advantage of the 2021 Super Bowl ad space. Experts predict that the brands participating will play it safe to ensure they don’t receive backlash. However, playing it safe could be a risk because it could make the ad unmemorable, a massive waste of money on ad space. Only time will tell whether the Super Bowl 2021 commercial breaks will feel different from the years prior. Still, just like most things in 2020, it’s unpredictable.


Grova Creative is a woman, minority, and veteran-owned agency headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, and works with clients all across the United States. If you are a business or organization seeking help with advertising, marketing, branding, messaging, marketing, strategy, website development, or other creative assets, visit grova.com.

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