While football fans make their predictions for which NFL teams will face off in Super Bowl LVI, adland is buzzing about which commercials will win the night.
The stakes have never been higher for marketers, who shelled out up to $6.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime on NBC during the game. That’s a 9.1% price hike from the $5.5 million CBS asked for in 2021.
2022 is shaping up to be another year of uncertainty as the Omnicron variant, which forced the NFL to postpone games due to rising positive COVID-19 cases, looms over the competition.
But some things never change — like star-studded commercials. Brands have already teased some of the famous faces they snagged for their Big Game ads.
Sam’s Club, for instance, a first-time player at the Super Bowl, tapped actor and comedian Kevin Hart for its Big Game spot. Lay’s, which is returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 17 years, nabbed Seth Rogen for a Lay’s potato chips ad. And rapper Megan Thee Stallion and singer Charlie Puth will star in the first Super Bowl spot for Frito-Lay’s Flamin’ Hot brand.
What else can we expect from the biggest day in advertising? Campaign US rounded up some key predictions.
As we approach the two-year mark of the pandemic (wait, what?), the constant COVID-19 reminders from brands are tiring people out.
“Audiences don't really want to see any more messaging of ‘We're all in together,’” Josh Paialii, group creative director at The Many, said. “I think we're well past that now.”
Instead, brands should celebrate entertainment and bring humor back to the game. “My hope is that some of the storytelling owns the opportunity to bring that moment of comedy and humor to so many people who could use it right now,” Paialii said.
On that front, creatives expect to see more lighthearted spots designed to create buzzworthy moments – hence the celebrity teasers brands are already releasing.
“People want to be entertained, to laugh and to be able to connect and share a water cooler moment,” said Scott Floyd, EVP of collaboration at Acceleration Community of Companies.
The Reddit revolution
Last year, Reddit’s Super Bowl spot created one of the biggest “water cooler” moments of the night. The cheeky five-second ad opened as a car commercial but quickly flashed to Reddit’s orange and white logo, followed by a message about the power of its community, seizing on the GameStop meme stock frenzy.
The clever, attention-grabbing marketing tactic became a trending topic on social media and redefined the creative limits of a Super Bowl ad. Brands might be hungry to recreate a similar moment in 2022, said Hunter Hindman, founder, CEO and CCO of Argonaut.
“Ultimately, the brand that wins the day is probably going to be someone that sidesteps the rules and finds that ability to hijack the attention of viewers out there,” he said. “I think someone's going to do something clever like [Reddit].”
Crypto and the metaverse’s debut
In 2021, crypto companies took the world by storm, and the push will continue into this year’s Super Bowl.
Fintech companies count stars like Matt Damon (Crypto.com) and Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen (FTX) among their spokespeople. The Super Bowl is the perfect time to tout those big names in ads, said Floyd.
Advertisers are also likely to extend their Super Bowl activations to the metaverse, which has become marketing’s most intriguing new trend. Miller Lite, for instance, will air a Super Bowl ad exclusively on metaverse platform Decetraland, where it has constructed a virtual bar.
“Whether we like it or not (and whether brands even understand it or not), this will be the year of NFTs and the metaverse,” said Harris Wilkinson, CCO of the Marketing Arm. “I expect a few celebrity avatars, plenty of virtual promotions where we can interact with brands during and after the game, and ‘limited edition’ digital art releases that will either be worth billions one day, or become the next Beanie Baby.”
Moving the story to a second-screen
Gone are the days when Super Bowl ads simply aired on television. Now, brands know TV is where the conversation is just getting started.
This year, Paialii predicts that brands will lean into the TikTok phenomenon (which has proven successful for the NFL itself) by creating a TikTok song or dance challenge. Already State Farm is taking that approach, forgoing a spot during the game in favor of a TikTok challenge that gives its followers the chance to star in the insurance brand’s next commercial.
“[TikTok has] a much different audience than who's watching the broadcast during the Super Bowl,” Paialii added. “But a brand should be able to make those two connections in a robust way. ”