Now, let’s not pretend that many of us – especially those in the ad industry or outside of the US - will be watching the Super Bowl to witness an epic clash of this season’s strongest American football teams. No, we have much more pressing matters to attend to – inhaling copious amounts of snacks, watching the halftime show and, most importantly, seeing all those glorious commercials.
According to the National Retail Federation, over 100 million people are planning to watch the event, with a survey from Advocado revealing that nearly half the audience will tune in simply for the ads. Just 30 seconds of TV time during the big game has cost some brands this year upwards of $7 million, a significant increase from what Forbes reported as last years’ $4.73 million average.
With nearly half a billion dollars spent last year on advertising during the Super Bowl, it’s safe to say that this is one of the most exciting and anticipated annual events in the ad industry. As we see more and more teasers and reveals for spots leading up to the big day, we decided to speak with a variety of ad agency experts to get their predictions for the themes and trends that await us on the 13th.
To collate their expectations for Super Bowl LVI’s ad offering, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with 14 representatives from ad agencies across the States, including 160over90, 72andSunny New York, Havas Health and You, Deutsch New York and more.
The biggest thing I’m expecting to see is a move away from the seriousness of last year’s “Now more than ever…” and “In our new normal…” spots toward a more optimistic and lighter tone that may avoid direct reference to the pandemic altogether.
As we see from the success of shows like Ted Lasso, we’re all open to a bit kinder, more earnest humour at the moment - particularly with some self-aware or self-effacing celebrities thrown in.
There’s also a fair degree of uncertainty around our short and long-term future, which (believe it or not) is a great source of comedy. I’m sure we’ll see a few jokes about our confusion around NFTs or our debilitating fear of the metaverse.
Another interesting thing to note is the timing of this year’s Super Bowl - the latest ever. The game falls on the eve of Valentine’s Day, which could provide some fun new creative fodder. And if all else fails, there’s always room for a belated reference to our shared obsession with Squid Game and Olivia Rodrigo.
The Super Bowl of advertising is right around the corner. And there’s nothing traditional about it. There will be more extensions than I had at my bachelorette party. We’ll see lots of treasure-mappy instructions inviting us to experience brands beyond a 30-second spot. We will be asked to join conversations, star in stuff, choose our own adventures, prequels, sequels, etc.
Last year, lots of ads referenced life during Covid. But now we all have pandemic fatigue. Brands will try their best to make us laugh while pretending it doesn’t exist.
We will still see lots of sweet bubbly drinks in cans. Pretty sure those are still a thing… and new takes on Americana. I hope.
The nerds shall inherit the Super Bowl. We’re going to have a lot of people hearing of some brands for the very first time. Crypto. Software. Digital coupons. They have money to spend and they want people to know the future has arrived.
And for my final prediction: most brands will release their Super Bowl commercials three weeks early so we will already have seen them.
As the saying goes, follow the money. Crypto, NFTs, the metaverse, electric cars, travel and health will rule the Big Game this year. But beyond the surprising list of new sponsors will likely be a change in the strategies of how they win our hearts and tickle our funny bones. My bet is that brands and agencies will play it safe. With Omicron in full force during campaign production, no brand or A-lister wanted to shoot something that risked being tone deaf in the edit room or on the unforgiving screens on the 13th. I think advertisers will keep it light and be risk-averse. That will likely mean there will be plenty to like in this year’s commercial crop, but fewer to love. As an Ohio boy, I'm hoping that between the brilliant commercials Who Dey Nation can inspire one more win. Go Bengals!
This year we can expect cryptocurrencies, the metaverse, electric vehicles and sports betting to dominate. It's unique to this moment in history, and for better or worse that’s how this year’s show will be remembered by adland. I'm a purist when it comes to Super Bowl spots and the brands that win are the ones that captivate us in the moment on the big day. I can’t be the only one who loves the feeling of caring more about the spots than the game itself.
Expect to see ads with themes that are the antidote to what life has looked like for the past two years. Whereas last year’s Super Bowl ads focused on pandemic life, this year’s spots are all about living your best life. Think themes like growth, adventure, treating and returning to yourself. We should expect to see a big focus on community, inclusion and reconnecting as well. And of course, no big game is complete without ads that hit "all the feels" - the things that touch on the humanity and emotions that connect us all. Simply put, things like puppies. Expect to see puppies.
The pandemic is still a serious collective priority, but audiences are ready to be entertained, surprised and most importantly, LOL. This year, two key themes will emerge: contemporary and classic. Advertisers will make a major play to introduce and normalise crypto and the metaverse during America’s biggest pop culture moment. In contrast to these shiny objects, I’d expect legacy consumer brands to take a classic approach - focusing on celebrities, mascots, brand heritage, and best of all - pure comedy gold. My bet is that the spots that deliver over-the-top entertainment in a time when we all could use a laugh will rank highest with audiences.
Super Bowl advertising has always been about headline grabbing: reach the most eyeballs with the brightest stars, the biggest swings, the noisiest splash. The current marketing land grab doesn't have a physical address: it's a blockchain, an avatar, a one-of-a-kind ape. For better or worse, expect the buzziest Super Bowl spots to combine these two phenomena: grab those eyeballs (and credit cards) and prepare them for the oncoming virtual world onslaught.
After two-plus years of virtual living (working for the privileged, connecting for all), one would expect touching grass and happy hour to be the top priority. Not so fast! Hot off the Meta rebrand and your uncle asking you what an NFT is, crypto and VR companies will make their foray into the big game, hoping to educate new audiences about their technologies and give loyalists something to rally around.
Not limited to brands endemic to the space, other brands will surely tap into today’s buzziest topic. Miller Lite has already announced it will air its Super Bowl ad on a metaverse platform and Bud Light will overtly reference it.
Trends for this year’s big game will be predictions of the future. Bots, droids, AI, and the metaverse will shower the air during the Super Bowl. How we live with the convenience of technology will be on display. Helping to make our lives happier, smarter, richer and sillier. Celebs will be on display to show off the smartness and seriousness of things we barely understand. Read: crypto. The app-ification of everyday lives: wealth, ease and equality at your fingertips. Headsets to entertain from the inside out. The main offering being new worlds of entertainment itself. Storytelling for solid goods and consumables will centre around the new and uncharted to show the madness of it all—just for fun, of course.
We all are aware the last couple of years have been tough, and everything just feels heavy. I’m hoping that for this year’s Super Bowl, the brands take the opportunity to give us all a laugh.
We seem to have forgotten, at its core, advertising is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be simple. It’s supposed to make people feel something. It doesn't have to be cerebral and heavy all the time. And at this point, all of us are feeling a little burned out and crispy, and as humans – we just don’t want to think that hard.
So this year, I’m hoping for some simple, creative, entertaining work that isn’t trying too hard. Whether that comes from an electric vehicle or cryptocurrency or a tax software – this is a marquee moment for our industry and I’d like to show the world that we’re still having fun with it.
I’d like to start off by giving kudos to anyone who’s been involved in making a Super Bowl commercial this year. The pressure and attention a Super Bowl production normally gets is insane, but producing one through a spike in COVID? Respect.
I do think this is a good year to have an ad on the Super Bowl. Without the huge parties full of loud people trying to yell over each other, people might actually be able to hear and see the spots live.
Oh, and the commercials themselves. There will be gobs of celebrities, some spots will be funny, some will break hearts, many will stink, a few will be brilliant, and most people will grumble the following morning that Super Bowl commercials aren’t as good as they used to be.
Oh, and the big winner of the night? UberEats. Everyone is going to be ordering in.
Here are two trends I hope to see during this year’s game:
The end of expensive, shock-value spots. I predict the dumbing down of Super Bowl commercials will finally end. The celebrity cameos that do not help propel the idea forward. The cruel animal jokes. The sexist jokes. I predict that this year we’ll begin to see commercials that are far less expensive (thank you Ryan Reynolds) and are based on simple, amazing ideas. If the game had 40 commercials that were based on strategic insights, simple ideas that were produced well and told a meaningful story. I think I would actually cry.
The commercial isn’t the most important part of the experience. This year, I think we’ll see at least 80% of the spots link to something else - a deeper brand experience off-screen. An experience that’s connected via on-screen QR codes, pushing to a mobile experience or redirecting to an in-person pop-up activation. I think this trend has already begun and will become mainstream during this year’s game. And I really hope it does. When I love an idea, 30 or 60-seconds is not nearly enough time for me to interact. I want more. And off-screen experiences can only deepen my love for the idea and the brand.
It’s time we viewed the Super Bowl as an entertainment property, rather than a sporting event. Depending on which side of the fence (or the Pacific Ocean) you sit on, that may or may not be a controversial statement.
For every 20 minutes of game time, there’s one minute of sport, which leaves a lot of airtime to fill. Advertisers like Pepsi spend mega-money on the Super Bowl because it’s bigger than sport, it’s culture. So for Pepsi, this makes sense as a play to shore up their cultural relevance.
And whilst the 'Pepsi Generation' are all grown up, they're the core of the NFL fanbase, the average NFL viewer being 50 years old. They grew up listening to Dre, Mary J Blige, Eminem... another group of 50 years olds who happen to be playing the halftime show. But this is more than a Gen X love-in. The fact is the late ‘90s and naughties are 'back' (hence a revisiting of the VonDutch brand that absolutely no one asked for).
There's a serendipitous coming together of cultural reference points that will excite the Pepsi Generation of old, but also proves their relevance to millenial and Gen Z audiences. Whether it's by design or just happy accident, it'll probably work.
Bonus points are awarded for the nifty app-based extension to the halftime show, I can't download it, but it looks cool
Being the #2 trending topic on Twitter - right after the Super Bowl itself - MTN DEW proved these campaigns can be so much more than a one-way show. They can be an ignition point for interactions, where people can hang out, talk about and have fun with brands. Winners of the Big Game will need to emulate that playbook to push into the epicentre of cultural conversations - executing between traditional and social platforms.
Based on teasers, brands are loading up on laughter: Kevin Hart, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Hannah Waddingham and more. What I’m curious to see is whether we get one-note comedy. Or, will brands explore the tone and tenor of what can be funny? Will one comedic style stick stronger with the masses: light-hearted, slapstick or even dry humour?
I'm about to channel my inner Nostradamus with a prediction that's based on some recent Super Bowl commercial previews as well as my own hopes, and that is…we’re about to see a bunch of Superbowl creative that's simply been made to make people smile. Less thinkin’ and more laughin’. Ain't that grand?!
I think the brands that are really going to stand out and win in this comedic tidal wave of celebrities and cameos are the ones that are re-telling an understood brand proposition. Don't get me wrong, I always have some heart for the new (underdog) brands who use the Super Bowl to introduce themselves…but it's hard as hell to stand out among the Clydesdales, Pepsis, or Cheetos, all of whom have already built a base understanding not only of their product but also of their characters and what consumers should expect from them.
So, in essence, they’re telling me the next instalment of a joke with a cast that I already know and love rather than trying to introduce an entirely new proposition. So while I'm rooting for you (insert new Crypto company name here), I kinda can't wait to see what those rascally Clydesdales are up to this year.
You’re going to have to explain to your Uncle Rick what Crypto is. Why NFTs are a thing. And who/what/how the Metaverse is. Overall, expect spots to contribute here wherever possible and everything that can be NFT, will be an NFT. But, on the other hand, comedy is back. After years of heartfelt, handwringing “we’re all in this together” messaging, brands are apt to get out in front of their audience with a memorable laugh - one that, if done well, permeates culture and our lexicon for the next 365 days … or more. Overall, the Super Bowl is going to look like we look. Cautiously optimistic. Daring to feel like we can goof around and be human. Flirting with risk. Looking forward with promise.