Super Bowl LVII Ad Landscape Shaped By Economic Uncertainty
With less than two weeks to go until Super Bowl LVII, all eyes are on the brands shelling out millions for their ads to appear in commercials during the big game.
M&M’s found itself at the center of controversy last week after Mars Wrigley announced that it was pulling its M&M’s ‘spokescandies’ mascots from all Super Bowl advertising — and then later admitted the move was just a PR stunt.
Meanwhile, a partnership between Molson Coors and DraftKings that allows DraftKings users to bet on things like which Molson brand will be named first in the beer brand’s ad is also raising eyebrows.
Of course, with Fox charging $6 to $7 million for a 30-second ad spot, it makes sense that brands would want to get everything they can from their budgets.
“We are weeks away from the game, and the ad teasers are out earlier than they’ve ever been, signaling that the big game isn’t just a point-in-time event; Super Bowl advertising often anchors or kick-starts ongoing campaigns,” says Sol Marketing CEO Deb Gabor. “Some brands are using their appearance during the big game to not just advertise, but to create opportunities for interactivity among fans.”
Gabor has introduced brand strategy for organizations like Dell, Microsoft, NBC Universal, NPR, and Siemens, as well as emerging brands like Hint Water and Indagare. She says FanDuel is a great example of a company that’s been able to generate interactivity among fans through Super Bowl advertising. The company’s first outing will feature a live kickoff with an opportunity for fans to cheer for Gronk to make a field goal on live TV.
With so much economic uncertainty in 2023 — including mounting layoffs at tech giants like Microsoft and Google — Gabor believes advertisers may choose to focus on promoting small-ticket items during this year’s game, like snack foods and beverages, while brands selling big-ticket items are largely out.
“After the implosion of the crypto category in 2022, consumers are down on emerging technology brands. As a result, most of the advertising in this year’s game will be taken up by the usual suspects in the CPG, snack food, and beverage categories,” Gabor says. “I think we’ll also see media [and] entertainment companies and streaming services take up a lot of mindshare during the game — these categories offer consumers escape from day-to-day worries and lower-cost fun for families.”
Another notable change is the decrease in automotive ads that’s expected. The Super Bowl is usually a time when the automakers align their ads with product launches. Although Kia has signed on as a Super Bowl LVII advertiser, Toyota is reportedly out because it doesn’t have a new product to announce.
For auto retailers like Vroom, Carmax, and Carvana, de-prioritization of the Super Bowl might signal that with mounting economic uncertainty, consumers are delaying larger purchases like cars to a later time.
“Brands have to be smarter about marketing spend this year,” Gabor says. “Advertisers may want to use their ads to get back to basics, focusing on direct value propositions and product relevancy [versus] feel-good abstractions and cinematic indulgences.”
What Happens to Twitter?
Another big question is what will happen with Twitter during Super Bowl LVII.
Twitter has traditionally been a platform for brands to interact with their audiences and each other during Super Bowl advertising season, but with Elon Musk at the helm, a number of brands have defected from the platform. Gabor says she’s curious to see how that will impact the social media energy associated with Super Bowl campaigns.
“The chaos at Twitter may put a damper on some of the fun previously had by brands during past Super Bowl broadcasts,” she says. “At least one brand that I know of, Dorito’s, is hosting an audience participation dance party, contest in conjunction with TikTok.”
Despite the changes, Gabor says the fundamentals of advertising remain consistent. As always, the best brands in the world are constantly “in touch” with their customers, and they have an ongoing understanding of what their customers are going through day to day. That makes them able to respond in a manner that is not only aligned with their own values and beliefs but consistent with customers’ needs and expectations — whether during a major event like the Super Bowl, or any other day of the year.
“Recent research from Gartner indicates that inflation is driving consumer behavior, with 30% of consumers shifting spending away from big national brands to store brands. That means that major brands are on the hook now to focus on making themselves more indispensable than ever,” Gabor says. “In order to make their Super Bowl advertising budgets deliver maximum returns, brands will need to focus on concrete value propositions and benefits in their advertising to ensure that consumers understand the additional value they’re paying for via the higher cost of national brands.”