By Sarah Sladek
It’s the 100th anniversary of the NFL and the dawn of a new decade, and the advertisers who invested in the 54th Super Bowl made some history of their own.
For starters, women and girls headlined the football extravaganza, headlining more ads than ever before. Secret’s Let’s Kick Inequality, Olay’s Make Space for Women, Microsoft Surface’s Be the One, and Pepsi’s Paint It Black ads featured the achievements of women and tackled feminism head on.
The female-focused advertising aligned with three historic moments on the field:
- San Francisco 49ers’ Katie Sowers made history as the first female coach at the Super Bowl;
- Kansas City Chiefs’ CEO and Chairwoman, Norma Hunt, also referred to as the First Lady of Football, is the only woman to have attended all 54 Super Bowls; and
- Jennifer Lopez and Shakira became the first Hispanic women to headline the half-time show, and Demi Lovato, whose father is of Mexican heritage, performed the national anthem.
Another interesting play: advertisers invested in creative collaborations. When We Come Together was Proctor & Gamble’s first multi-brand Super Bowl ad featuring the mascots and spokespeople of Bounty, Charmin, Mr. Clean, Febreze, Old Spice, Head & Shoulders, and more. Chester Cheetah made a cameo in the Sabra Hummus commercial and Tide incorporated a multi-part campaign featuring Bud Knight from Budweiser (a character Bud Light killed off in their 2019 ad), Wonder Woman, and The Masked Singer.
In years prior, the majority of advertisers went for the comical approach, but this year’s game plan took the heartfelt route. Two ads were inspired by actual events: Google’s Loretta featured the true story of an elderly man remembering her late wife with the help of voice-activated Google Assistant, and WeatherTech’s CEO bought a Super Bowl ad to thank the vet school at University of Wisconsin, for saving his beloved golden retriever, Scout.
Kia’s Never Give Up ad features Las Vegas Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs giving advice to his younger self, New York Life celebrated the protection of loved ones in Love Takes Action, Facebook invested in its first-ever Super Bowl ad titled Meet Together, and Walmart abandoned its long-standing ‘low prices’ messaging for United Towns which focused on the retailer as a national unifier due to its central presence in towns across the county.
Michelob went the extra yard to not just promote its new Pure Gold beer — the first national beer brand to be USDA-certified organic – but to pledge that for every six-pack purchased, the beverage company will pay to convert six square feet of farmland to organic.
I’ve analyzed Super Bowl ad trends in the past, and if I was to draw any conclusions from this latest batch it’s this: There is widespread hope that change is in the making. We’re being mindful of our history, but we’re moving towards acceptance. We’re turning the page, so to speak, and we’re ready and willing to embrace the new – new ideas, new people, and new ways to problem solve, create alliances, and build communities.
For me, personally, the spot worthy of the most accolades was Take It To The House Kid, a pre-game spot aired by NFL100 which featured a boy running through several different cities as several current players and legends of the game cheered him on. The commercial continues as he literally runs onto the field and hands the ball off to the referee.
What a fabulous moment! And not just because it’s creative and heartfelt and unique, but because it beautifully demonstrates the legacy of the past 100 years and the literal passing of the torch from all the generations that have come before to the next generation of football.
So take it to the house, kid. We’re ready for you.