I’m Ad Age Editor Jeanine Poggi, counting down to Super Bowl LVI. In the weeks leading up to the game, which will, as of now, air on NBC on Feb. 13, Ad Age will bring you breaking news, analysis and first looks at the high-stakes, Big Game commercials—all in our Super Bowl newsletter. Sign up right here to get them in your email.
Super Bowl Alert: Budweiser is back, medtech makes a buy, 50-year-old soap creates a new generation
Budweiser is back
Anheuser-Busch InBev is bringing Budweiser back to the Super Bowl along with some of its newer brands, Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz reports. Budweiser, of course, famously sat out of the game last year after a 37-year stint. This year, it's hinting at the return of its iconic Clydesdales, according to a teaser. The nation’s largest brewer will also use the game to plug its new zero-carb Bud Light Next variety with an ad that is expected to make a metaverse reference. AB InBev will also run ads for Cutwater Spirits, its canned cocktail brand, in addition to spots for Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. In total, it will have four minutes of ad airtime during the game, which is roughly on par with what it has done in recent Super Bowls.
Booking.com's star power
Booking.com today announced Idris Elba as the star of its first Super Bowl commercial. Two teasers for the spot show the actor soliciting ad advice from two famous celebrity spokesmen: Isaiah Mustafa, of Old Spice commercial fame, and Jonathan Goldsmith, also known as Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World, Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli writes.
Hologic Inc., a medical tech company focused on improving women’s health, will make its first foray into the Super Bowl, Ad Age’s Asa Hiken reports. The commercial is intended to highlight women’s health through an emphasis on early detection and treatment and it was created by a female-led team. The brand also hinted at the appearance of A-list talent.
To keep track of all the advertisers running national spots in the game, bookmark Ad Age’s regularly updated Super Bowl ad chart.
Long after millennials and Gen Z, Irish Spring (yes, that green soap) imagines a generation dubbed “Zillennials.” The 50-year-old brand is looking to reinvent itself for a younger audience and will make its first Super Bowl foray to do so. The brand released an 8-second teaser this week, which showed a middle-aged man on a raft washing ashore in a land populated by white-clad young folks, dubbed “Zillennials.” The spot is backing a re-brand that includes new packaging, scents and products.
Lost its fizz
Coca-Cola Co. will sit out the Super Bowl for the second straight year, Schultz writes. The beverage giant won’t have an in-game or pregame ad on Super Bowl Sunday, instead prioritizing sporting events taking place later this year. Coke also skipped the Super Bowl in 2021, but prior to that, it had run a commercial in the game or in the pregame every year since 2006. Coke’s most recent Big Game commercial in 2020 promoted its then-new energy drink, which was later discontinued in the U.S.
You can watch Coke’s prior Super Bowl ads in our voluminous, searchable Super Bowl Ad Archive.
Yet another teaser
Every year a brand or two decides to not just release one teaser to its Big Game spot, but tries to generate buzz by dropping multiple breadcrumbs. This year, it seems Frito-Lay is going for the more the better approach. The chip brand dropped a second teaser this week revealing singer Charlie Puth would join Megan Thee Stallion in its upcoming combo spot for Doritos and Cheetos.
Super Bowl goes to TikTok
State Farm is the first brand to say it's skipping a national Super Bowl commercial in favor of a TikTok campaign. The company is launching the #TeamStateFarm TikTok challenge, where the iconic Jake from State Farm will select consumers to show off their unique talents. Ultimately, one of these fans will be chosen to be part of a future ad. Jake from State Farm has more than 200,000 TikTok followers.
State Farm aired its first Super Bowl commercial last year, featuring a bevy of celebrities including rapper Drake and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (who played in the Super Bowl) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Planters is opting not to air a national ad this year, instead making a local buy with a spot starring Ken Jeong and Joel McHale, Ad Age's Jon Springer reports. Most recently, Planters generated buzz in 2020 when it killed off its Mr. Peanut character ahead of the Big Game. Then, following the death of Kobe Bryant and others in a helicopter crash, the brand muted its approach. Planters' 2020 Super Bowl ad featured the funeral and “rebirth” of the iconic mascot, and he aged throughout the year in various ads. Planters sat out the 2021 game.
The surge in omicron cases has been a challenge for some Super Bowl productions, according to a report out of the Wall Street Journal. On the set of one spot directed by Bryan Buckley, about 30 crew members tested positive. This is leaving some brands rethinking their on-the-ground activations and carefully evaluating the tone of their creative, according to the Journal.
Overall, however, creatives Ad Age has spoken with have expressed many of the same issues that have plagued shoots on and off since COVID-19 began. Brands and production companies are adopting many of the same protocols and contingency plans since the early days of the pandemic. If COVID has taught the industry anything, it’s the ability to remain flexible and pivot when needed.