Super Bowl

Super Bowl Alert: Burger King is back in the Big Game, while Coke opts out

For the first time in more than a decade, Coca-Cola will not air a Super Bowl ad

By Published on .

Good afternoon Super Bowl junkies,

I'm Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age's senior editor, here with the latest edition of our Super Bowl Alert. With less than two weeks left until the game, Ad Age is bringing 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.

Oh say can you see

For the first time in over a decade, Coca-Cola will not air a Super Bowl ad, E.J. Schultz reports. Instead, the beverage giant will run a 60-second commercial in the pre-game right before the National Anthem. It's a strategic move by Coke, which is using the anthem to call for unity. Of course, the National Anthem has been a polarizing moment for the National Football League since Colin Kaepernick began kneeling as a form of protest over racial and social injustices.

Coke's animated spot is by Wieden & Kennedy Portland, the same agency that made Nike's ad last year starring Kaepernick. Coke's ad is not making a political statement, but instead looks to tout the beverage as something enjoyed by everyone, no matter their race, status or beliefs. The spot features an original poem that is inspired by quotes from Andy Warhol's 1975 book, "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol," in which he states that "a Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking."

The tone keeps with Coke's tradition of trying to push for higher ideals during the Super Bowl. Last year's "Wonder of Us" Super Bowl ad used the gender-neutral "them" to refer to a non-binary person. The 2018 ad was backed by an original poem written by Wieden & Kennedy copywriter Becca Wadlinger, who also penned the script for this year's spot.

Coca-Cola won't have an in-game spot even as Super Bowl LIII is hosted in its hometown of Atlanta. PepsiCo, which is an official sponsor of the Big Game, has been making its presence in the city known with some coy and snarky outdoor ads, according to Adweek.

The King's return

Burger King will air its first Super Bowl ad since 2006, Jessica Wohl reports. The home of the Whopper announced its return to advertising's biggest night with a staged video of its spokescharacter the King seemingly preparing to shoot a commercial. The King is seen adjusting a microphone but, staying true to character, doesn't say anything in the 30-second teaser. Burger King's 45-second Super Bowl ad will feature the Whopper and run in the fourth quarter.

From the archives: Here's a look a BK's ad from 2006, which was also its first Super Bowl ad in over a decade. That commercial was also Whopper-centric, featuring an over-the-top version of 1930s musicals, with "Whopperettes" singing and dancing to the "Have it Your Way" jingle along with an appearance by the King mascot. Earlier Super Bowl work by Burger King included the adventures of a Whopper-loving nerd in 1986 ("Find Herb"), the introduction of a bang-for-your-buck in 1995 ("Used Cars") and a convincing pre-fame Elisabeth Shue in 1993 ("Ultimate Weapon").

Shark tank

Anheuser-Busch InBev plays on ABC's reality show "Shark Tank" in its first Super Bowl ad for its revamped Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzerr brand, E.J. Schultz reports. The commercial, which was released on Thursday, stars two mermaids, Bonnie and Vivian, as the brand's founders, pushing the sugar-free product to four sharks (the ones with fins, not the actual judges on the ABC show). The reference to the show is notable considering the game is airing on ABC competitor CBS. It's worth noting that the Bon & Viv ad will be the first spot to air in the game.

Another teaser

Avocados From Mexico released yet another teaser on Thursday, this time showing Kristin Chenoweth and a trio of dogs at an art museum. They are looking at a spoof of the classic painting of dogs playing poker, but in this version the prize is guacamole in a bowl.

Expense this

To promote its first-ever Super Bowl ad, Expensify released a music video on Thursday starring rapper 2 Chainz and actor Adam Scott that viewers can "expense." Throughout the video there are "receipts" for various items featured that viewers can take a picture of and upload in the Expensify app for a chance to win cash or the items themselves. Prizes range from an ice-sculptured sports car, an Audi R8 and a diamond-encrusted football. The goal is to have people test out the Expensify app.

A-listers add up

Cardi B and Steve Carrell are the latest celebrities set to appear in Pepsi's Super Bowl ad, Schultz reports. Pepsi released two new teasers on Wednesday featuring the celebrities, who will also join Lil Jon.

This brings the celebrity count for the Super Bowl to about 18.

What's the goal?

There's plenty of debate over the goal of Super Bowl ads: Is it to build brand awareness or drive product sales? Leslie Zane, founder and president of Triggers Growth Strategy, argues in an op-ed for Ad Age that Super Bowl ads should lead to sales and that far too many advertisements during the Big Game aren't built to actually change brand preference.

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