By: Cole Waldon
The effect that COVID-19 has had on the world could best be described as severe. Even then, that may be putting it lightly. As a result, many industries and businesses have had to either adapt or dissolve due to the global pandemic. While in many professions the impact of COVID-19 isn’t as visible, the advertising industry is a good example of how much this virus has forced those within it to change how they operate. Nowhere was this plainer to see than during the Super Bowl. As most viewers were gearing up to watch the big game, so to where ad agencies were preparing to alter how they market products to a changed audience not knowing what to expect.
In response to the ongoing issue of the virus, things were scaled back for lack of a better word. First off, there were companies that were unsure if they were going to be apart of the game. While were a few recognizable brands Bud Light, Cheetos, and Jeep that had prominent commercials, other name brands like Budweiser choose to “sit out” this year. This left the door open for other brands to occupy those spots. As stated by Dade Hayes of Deadline, “The reality of 2020-21 has altered the calculus for many advertisers. Fast-rising new companies with COVID-19-related relevance — Indeed or DoorDash, for example — are making their debuts. There will be the game’s first-ever diaper ad, reflecting the family pandemic times. Anheuser-Busch has said it will forego Budweiser’s berth for the first time in decades, diverting budget to promoting COVID-19 vaccination” (para. 5-6). This was a big win for newer companies like DoorDash, as it could open the door for more spots in future events.
However, COVID-19 presence wasn’t only felt during the behind-the-scenes negotiations, they were even present during the making and on-screen commercials themselves. AIn ad for Mountain Dew featuring their new watermelon flavor, the video was filmed using mostly CGI animations in the place a large cast of people. Gerry Smith of Bloomberg noted, “With Covid-19 still spreading, Mountain Dew’s ad agency made the spot with as small a crew as possible and as far apart as the team could keep them. Producers watched the shoot from home. A backup crew was ready to replace anyone who tested positive” (para. 2). It’s very interesting to see how companies find different ways of dealing with the virus. In this case, Mountain Dew’s ad agency was able to take the lack of people available and use it to their advantage.
Let’s not forget that many people in the country are still dealing with the virus and its prevalence just in their lives, but also in the media they consume. Whether intentionally or not, everyone watching the Super Bowl was judging how certain commercials would discuss it. “Consumers may be watching more closely than ever for perceived insensitivity or acting too gleeful after a difficult year for the country. Many are likely to err on the side of showing how they have been, and can be, valuable at this time…” (para. 25) written by Megan Graham of CNBC. Now that it has been more than a week since the Super Bowl aired, the general reaction to most of the ads have been positive. Showcasing the resiliency and creativity that is so important to possess in today’s advertising.
Hayes, Dade. (2021, January 29). Super Bowl Advertising: COVID-19 Throws Red Flags, But CBS And Brands Still See Chance To Score. Deadline. https://deadline.com/2021/01/super-bowl-advertising-covid-19-brands-cbs
Smith, Gerry. (2021, February 2). Super Bowl Ad Challenge: Get Noticed, Avoid Irking Viewers. Bloomberg. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-02/super-bowl-ad-bind-get-noticed-avoid-angering-anxious-viewers
Graham, Megan. (2021, February 4). Super Bowl will welcome some new advertisers that had a great year during Covid pandemic. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/04/super-bowl-will-welcome-some-new-advertisers-that-had-great-year-during-pandemic.html