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Change is Coming to the Super Bowl Ad Game

The year 2022 is getting off to a raucous start. Barely two months into the new year we are deeply involved in significant challenges socially and economically. It almost seems as though after two years of dealing with the confines of a world pandemic, the whole of the world’s population has had enough and decided to be done with it all. As patience devolves into public protestations, supply chain issues, inflation, and worker shortages, a post pandemic reset to normal remains elusive. Well perhaps not everything.

After three years of level marketing performances, Super Bowl LVI is set to be held on February 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. Surrounded by what is becoming a nationwide evolution to ending masking and vaccination mandates, this year’s NFL championship game will include many of the restrictive health requirements in place for fans who attend the game in person. But that may be the only aspect of the event that isn’t experiencing change.

After several years of relatively dormant advertising prices, Super Bowl LVI appears to be making up the lost time. The average cost of a 30-second spot for this year’s game has escalated to $7 million, up from $5 million in 2021. And if you thought that the increase would slow demand for all those minutes of advertising you would be wrong.  NBC has announced it has sold out all of its Super Bowl ad spots across all platforms, weeks ahead of the game. Given the Super Bowl is the most-watched event in the United States year-over-year, the hosting channel can charge whatever it wants for premium advertising.

The typical players of the advertising bowl will once again line up and put forth their best, most creative marketing game plan. The automobile and food and beverage industries make up the bulk of spending this year as in the past. Honda, Dodge, Toyota, Ford, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Miller and Budweiser are leading the charge. Budweiser is even hinting at bringing back its iconic Clydesdales. Avocados from Mexico and QuickBooks are suiting-up as well as first-time advertisers like Crypto.com. Perhaps the most dynamic change this year is the evolution in messaging and theme. “We’ve been in a lockdown for two years, with people busting at the seams to get out and experience life and live. Brands and the people behind them feel the same—and they’re ready to help fuel the adventure,” says Stacy Jones, Hollywood Branded.

Community and inclusion will resonate throughout ad content and cuteness and comedy will prevail. Players will want to stand out from the crowd by leading with the usual array of puppies and  kittens wrapped around by an aura of optimism. Brands feel like pushing the envelope with serious messages and some playful tickling of consumers’ funny bones.  The messaging this year will be mixed between getting back to normal, “America strong” and some lightheartedness, predicts Thomas Morganelli, Centipede Digital. Don’t be surprised to hear from Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson, promoting the performance during the pandemic and the effectiveness of the vaccines. Big Tech player Meta/Facebook could make a Super Bowl appearance to clarify its position in the coming internet version 3.0 and the Metaverse.

A couple of “for certain” replays this year will include; controversy during the half-time show and as much post-game hype about the advertising game performance as the football skills displayed on the field of sport. Goo…Bud!

Or is it the Rams and Bengals?