A growing number of big-name advertisers, including Coke and Hyundai, are skipping the Super Bowl this year for fear of not striking the right tone amid America’s contentious political landscape.
Several companies have decided not to buy Super Bowl time, some for the first time in over a decade.
The reason? According to the New York Post, the talk from insiders is that members of multiple boardrooms are finally coming to realize that they’re going to infuriate half the country no matter what they do.
In recent years, advertisers were thrilled to push the Black Lives Matter and Antifa ideologies or to push transgenderism and the #MeToo movement. But this year, not so much.
“Every client conversation I’ve had these days is about who is going to be offended by this ad,” Rob Schwartz, chief executive officer of ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, told the Post. “There’s a lot of discussion about risk mitigation. What that tends to do is that it makes things very bland and not effective, or it forces you to look at universal topics like hope or humor.
“The country is so divided and split right down the middle that I don’t think that there’s a commercial that will appease both sides,” added Bill Oberlander, co-founder and executive creative of ad agency Oberlander.
The result has been that the Super Bowl will not sell out of its ad spots this year, the paper reported. And some of the companies opting out have been with the NFL’s biggest game for over a decade.
Coca-Cola is out this year, the report said. So is Hyundai, Olay, Avocados From Mexico, Little Caesars, and Ford Motors. Most of these companies have had a Super Bowl ad every year since 2010.
There are still some big names buying their traditional time, granted. M&M’s, TurboTax, Anheuser-Busch, Toyota, Pringles, and Mountain Dew have already ponied up $5.5 million per spot — a price tag down from last year’s $5.6 million, itself an indication of trouble for the NFL.
Corporations are finally looking to avoid the backlashes to left-winery that occurred to companies such as Gillette razors, which lost $8 billion in write-downs in 2019 after ads pushing transgenderism and so-called toxic masculinity. And as far back as 2015, Jeep was roasted for showing images of foreign landmarks in an ad playing the traditional American standard song, “This Land Is Your Land.”
But the left has attacked woke ads, as well. In 2017 Pepsi took the slings and arrows of the far left when its ad featured Kendall Jenner being nice to a police officer during the soft drink maker’s Black Lives Matter-themed ad. And in 2019, liberals were unhappy with the Super Bowl spots aired by T-Mobile, whose ads they claimed pushed “sexist stereotypes.”
Ultimately, playing it safe seems to be the byword for 2021.
The Post added that the experts looking at the plans insiders are reporting for their Super Bowl ads show that most of these companies are playing it safe and turning away from the hardcore, left-wing ideologies. This year’s ads will mostly be heartwarmers and humorous ads instead of political jeremiads.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.