Super Bowl LV: COVID-19 Edition
Chips, Dips & The NFL Championship
2020 was an unprecedented year full of uncertainty and loss but also bravery and perseverance. After a year of cancelled events, finally an event we did not mind watching from our living rooms. Yesterday, Super Bowl LIV Champions, the Kansa City Chiefs took on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Super Bowl LV!
Who won this year? Well, Tampa Bay took home the Heisman, but our team is divided between The Weeknd’s performance during half time and the top commercials that immediately triggered a meme frenzy. Speaking of which, let’s dive into Super Bowl LV’s marketing and trend highlights!
The game wasn’t so great especially with the KC’s offensive strategy getting pulled apart… oh wait! We’re not talking football are we? The ad for Amazon’s Alexa had plenty of sex appeal and tended to be awkward but the quality of the ad was well produced
Regular, heavy hitting advertisers like Budweiser and Pepsi opted out of this year’s commercial lineup to instead use their ad dollars to support COVID-10 recovery efforts or refocus their company mission. Their actions, while commendable, were definitely felt. The day just didn’t seem complete without the Budweiser Clydesdales, Coca-Cola Polar Bears and Pepsi musical numbers which are synonymous with America’s biggest game day, reminding us tradition and recognizable, beloved themes never go out of style.
Budweiser opting out of ad spending even had designers who look forward to their trend setting ads noticing.
“Budweiser is always a commercial I look forward to watching during the super bowl. Some years it’s been funny, others it’s been inspirational. Considering this past year, and the company opting out to highlight vaccine awareness, is such a huge statement to me and the industry. Looks like the company is ready to help the community with COVID-19.”
The overall tone for ads this year was refreshing after the year we all just went through. While there was plenty to laugh about with the throwback ads with Shaggy or Wayne and Garth, diversity and inclusion were still at the forefront. The honoring of healthcare workers before kickoff and throughout ads really helped remind us all of what really matters and that this year will be brighter than last year. Even Mr. Peanut will have a better year than before!
After a ‘lemon of a year’ Bud Light’s commercial for their new Seltzer Lemonade hits close to home. Let’s face it 2020 was a hot mess with the COVID-19 pandemic, cancelation of any and all plans, and a heated presidential election just to name a few, I think at some point each and every one of us felt like we were getting pummeled with lemons falling from the skies. From ruined and postponed weddings, to the at home hair cuts, and cardboard cutouts in sports arenas I think everyone can find something in this ad to relate to and laugh about! Here’s hoping 2021 is a little less of a ‘lemon of a year’!
Many ads relied on nostalgia, while others pulled from the now. Still, others were more forward thinking in their approach. It is a personal opinion of mine that ads should be a mix of both. The United States is in a great period of change. The Logitech ad does this with a great deal of nuance. Technology is king, even when we aren’t all socially distancing. Logitech’s ad highlights the diversity of America while capitalizing on current affairs, using Lil Nas X to deliver a message that speaks to the new generations being the only hope we have for a brighter, more equitable future. It’s self-serving, as all advertisements are in some regard (no good deed goes unpunished), but it underscores the themes of the past year behind a fun and creative mask. In short, Logitech knows who watches the Super Bowl, and it knows what it can and can’t get away with. My hope is that Logitech doesn’t look at DE&I as a marketing trend, even if basically every ad did, to some degree.
This year’s visual storytelling trends tended to be a balancing act in many respects. They blended comedy with drama, homemade video with cinematic filmmaking, and lighthearted escapism with calls to action.
Diageo’s “Mixing with Diddy and Beckham” starring P. Diddy, David Beckham, and Ryan Reynolds was a good example of all of the above. Slow-mo, cinematic footage of the three stars was cut together with artsy light leaks, a choral soundtrack, and Reynolds’ voiceover. This was soon undercut by a montage of funny home-shot spittakes of the three trying and hating the way their alcohol brands taste without a proper mixologist preparing them. The spot ends with a tag stating they are donating $1 million to mixologists.
Some spots were shot in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio, mimicking the big screen filmic format we all miss seeing at the movie theater. Like most years, companies ranging from Chipotle, to Best Foods, to Amazon, went all-in on production value, filling their widescreen formats with Hollywood-level lighting, costuming, and camerawork.
Meanwhile, companies like Scott’s Miracle-Gro still opted for big name celebrities, like Martha Stewart and John Travolta, but staged them all in a suburban backyard with a no-frills visual approach, a tacky phone number chyron throughout the spot, and a TikTok joke as their punchline.
In a year where we barely got any new movies and don’t know when we will again, it didn’t hurt to see some movie stars performing in 30-second short films with million dollar budgets, even in those that didn’t make us laugh, think, or want to buy the product they were promoting.