Forget lost puppies and horses, adult-like babies, and weird stunts involving snack foods. Instead, this year’s Super Bowl ads will prominently feature social and racial justice issues, along with Covid-19 messages, according to a sports business trade report.
The NFL has already embraced such messages, placing “Black Lives Matter” on player helmets and in end zones. Super Bowl LV will be televised by CBS this year and played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 7 if the league schedule is not adjusted by pandemic concerns.
“It’s going to be ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it’s going to be COVID. It’s going to be [about] coming together,” said Bill Oberlander, cofounder and executive creative director of the ad agency OBERLAND, speaking to Front Office Sports.
The reason for the social justice turn is simple, according to a study conducted by Oberland’s firm and real-time market research firm Suzy: Brands are more at risk from saying nothing than speaking out against racism.
The survey found that roughly 80% of consumers want brands to respond to racism by making a statement or donating money to anti-racism organizations. And 35% of consumers ages 19-26 say they’ve stopped buying from brands that have not spoken out against racism since George Floyd’s death on May 25.
The new “You Love Me” video from Apple’s Beats by Dre was cited as one such example of what football fans can expect. The spot featured tennis champion Naomi Osaka and NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace talking about how they are loved for what they do, but not as a people.
“You love Black culture. But you do love me?” asks the video message. The spot has already garnered 22 million YouTube views.
“I can’t imagine that advertisers are not going to use this as an opportunity to speak up on behalf of their brands — or on behalf of the social impact that’s going on all around,” Oberlander predicted.
Implementing such social messages is tricky. Pepsi was excoriated for its Kendall Jenner ad featuring the model calming a protest confrontation with police by offering the soft drink.
The Super Bowl generates more than $400 million in annual ad revenue and is typically the most-viewed television event of the year.