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Superbowl sunday takeaways 2021

MediaRadar’s Key Super Bowl LV Takeaways

The Buccaneers and Chiefs weren’t the only stars last Sunday. Reddit and Robinhood both made their appearances, as did Fiverr, Cheetos, celebrity couples and the usual suspects. 

A number of advertising trends stayed true to form—but other ads reminded us that we’re still living in a COVID-influenced world. 

Which industries were the biggest spenders and how did the pandemic shake things up?

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A Refreshing Taste of Normal: Ads That Stayed Consistent This Super Bowl

After a long year of abnormality, it was reminiscent to see brands that traditionally advertise on the big day. 

In typical fashion, tax preparation software and telecom advertising (Verizon and T-Mobile) showed up, as did the automotive segment. Likewise, Doritos, Cheetos, Mountain Dew, and other snack foods purchased ad placements. And of course, Anheuser-Busch remained a dedicated partner to the NFL.

Financial Services, Media & Entertainment, Technology, and Food collectively accounted for 50% of all spots in Super Bowl LV. And there were an equal number of spots for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages—six each.

In many ways the Super Bowl was similar to past years, with a hearty serving of Anheuser-Busch and major automotive brands (Cadillac, Toyota, Jeep, WeatherTech). But traces of the pandemic could definitely be felt. 

How is Advertising Different This Year?

Brands That Didn’t Return

After a rough year, airlines ads didn’t splurge on premier Super Bowl ads. And with the election settled, audiences experienced a reprieve from political ads.

The lack of movie ads made our pandemic-reality noticeable. Last year, we all watched the trailer for the newest Bond film, No Time To Die—which still hasn’t been released due to pandemic-related delays. Of the movies that were marketed this year, all of them were available on streaming platforms. Coming2 America and Old, for example, are available on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ respectively.

When it comes to the automotive industry, Toyota, Jeep, Cadillac, and WeatherTech returned. However, Audi, Hyundai, Kia, Ford, and Porsche sat out this year.

Typically, pharma has a big presence, but not this year. The only medicine or medical device ad purchased was from DexCom, Inc., a company that distributes continuous glucose monitoring systems for diabetes management. Conspicuously, Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J all sat out this event. 

Brands Who Jumped In

Even though many traditional buyers didn’t return this year, others filled in the gaps. The new Super Bowl advertisers largely reflect the pandemic-related changes we’ve gone through:

  1. How we order food has changed: McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Pizza Hut emphasized our new delivery and shopping methods, plus Uber Eats and DoorDash made appearances.
  2. Home Delivery and Touchless Pickup: CarMax and Vroom point to our new way of shopping—especially car shopping. 
  3. We’ve become super clean: P&G’s MicroBan and Tide Hygienic Clean both emphasize the extreme cleaning that their products deliver. While Tide placed in 2020, they promoted Tide Power Pods.

OTT and Paramount+

Almost 75% of the ad units in the Super Bowl were for paid ads. The remainder were house ads

used to promote ViacomCBS-owned programming. There were 29 house ads for ViacomCBS products—especially for the rebranded ‘super service’ Paramount+.

Paramount+ is expected to launch on March 4. Using Super Bowl space was an effective way to introduce Paramount+ to the world because they were able to reach beyond their standard viewers.

Despite the focus on Paramount+, CBS did accept advertising from its competitor Disney.  Disney had three spots, all which supported Disney+. One commercial marketed their 3-in-1 bundle: Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. 

As streaming surged this past year, ad-supported OTT (AVOD) rapidly expanded. We expect this growth to continue in 2021. For more information, MediaRadar has a trend report with the latest OTT ad data on its way. Sign up to receive it in your inbox. 

For more updates like this, stay tuned. Subscribe to our blog for more updates on coronavirus and its mark on the economy.