Super Bowl Alert: How the inauguration is impacting Big Game commercial plans

Hello Super Bowl junkies,

I’m Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age’s senior editor, continuing our countdown to Super Bowl LV. In the days leading up to the game, which will, as of now, air on CBS on Feb. 7, Ad Age brings you breaking news, analysis and first looks at the high-stakes, Big Game commercials—all in our Super Bowl Alerts newsletter. Sign up right here to get them in your email. 

 Inauguration holdout?

With less than three weeks until kickoff, the news surrounding who’s buying Super Bowl commercials has been moving at a slower pace than years prior. While the pandemic has certainly impacted Big Game deal-making, it seems the relative silence from brands is in greater part a PR move to steer clear of the inauguration. According to multiple PR leads, brands are asking to hold off on announcing their Super Bowl game plans until post-inauguration due to concerns about being swept up in any crises surrounding the swearing in of President-Elect Joe Biden. Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is always a mainstay in the game, is still mum on exactly which brands will feature in Super Bowl LV. In 2020, the beer giant revealed its Super Bowl plans on Jan. 8.

To keep track of all the advertisers running national spots in the game, bookmark Ad Age’s regularly updated Super Bowl ad chart.Soda game falls flat

Two high-profile brands we know will not be in the game are Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. Coke confirmed last week it won’t run a standalone ad for its trademark cola in the Feb. 7 game, Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz reports. Pepsi-Cola had earlier announced that it, too, would be opting out of an in-game spot, choosing instead to focus on its halftime sponsorship. “This difficult choice was made to ensure we are investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times,” Coca-Cola Co. said in a statement. “We’ll be toasting to our fellow brands with an ice-cold Coke from the sidelines.”

The last time Coke and Pepsi-Cola both sat out the Big Game was in 2000, when Coca-Cola did not run any ads and PepsiCo highlighted Mtn Dew, according to the Ad Age Super Bowl archive. Ashton, Jimmy, Mindy

It looks like we can expect to see plenty of A-list celebrities in Super Bowl commercials this year.

Cheetos is teasing its Big Game plans with a 30-second spot starring Ashton Kutcher, Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl reports. A teaser released Thursday shows the actor looking at the contents of an envelope: some blurry evidence photos and a Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix bag. Watch it here.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel and Mindy Kaling star in a teaser for Doritos’ upcoming Super Bowl spot that leaves viewers wondering: Who is #FlatMatthew? In the teaser, Kimmel and Kaling appear to be chatting during a break in his talk show before another guest is slated to appear. “He’s got a new look,” Kimmel tells Kaling of the guest, who isn’t shown. “Like, a look that no one’s ever had before.” Perhaps a hint to a Matt Damon appearance? Of course, we know a teaser doesn’t always have a strong connection to the actual spot. NFL names pre-game line-up

The National Football League has announced that country singer Eric Church and R&B artist Jazmine Sullivan will perform the National Anthem before the game on Feb. 7, while Grammy-winning R&B star H.E.R. will sing “America the Beautiful,” reports Variety. In addition, Warren “Wawa” Snipe, a deaf rapper and recording artist, will perform the National Anthem and America the Beautiful in sign language on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf. The Pepsi Halftime Show will, of course, be headlined by The Weeknd.Super Bowl skepticism

There are lingered doubts over whether the Big Game will truly kick off on Feb. 7, according to an AdColony survey. More than a quarter of respondents expect the game to be canceled due to COVID-19.

But assuming the game does happen, Super Bowl viewers are looking for the commercials to tickle their funny bones. According to the study, 81% of respondents said they are most interested in watching funny ads. Just 36% said they were looking for emotional or heartwarming ads. The least popular were political or social ads, with just 11% saying they were most interested in that type.

In terms of how people will watch the game, while 70% will still turn to traditional TV, 25% plan to watch through connected TV, a 12% increase from last year. And thanks to COVID-19 there will, unsurprisingly (and thankfully), be fewer Super Bowl parties this year. According to the AdColony survey, 69% said they don’t plan to host a party.Join Ad Age on Feb. 2 for a look at how brands are navigating the pandemic and addressing diversity in their ads for the 2021 game.

For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.

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