I’m Ad Age Editor Jeanine Poggi, counting down to Super Bowl LVI. With just a few days left until the Cincinnati Bengals face off against the Los Angeles Rams, airing on NBC on Feb. 13, Ad Age is bringing 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: Measuring DEI, unlocking data plays and COVID creeps into the Big Game
Ahead of this year’s Big Game, Ad Age asked every advertiser with plans to air in-game commercials about how they prioritized diversity and inclusion in the creation and production of their ads. This included how they approached casting, diversity within the agencies they worked with, and the makeup of those working on the production. While some brands had very clear action steps and outlined ways they implemented these practices in the conceptual and production phases of their ads, many could not provide specific details on the makeup of who worked on their ads. Others continued to provide cookie-cutter DEI mission statements that simply said they support the cause without disclosing much detail.
When it comes to casting: Of the 47 commercials viewed by Ad Age as of Friday morning, there are 36 people of color in leading or featured roles. There are also 36 women with starring or featured roles compared with 62 men. Last year, of the 35 ads that were pre-released, there were 27 people of color, 30 women and 54 men in lead or featured roles.
Behind the camera, of the 43 brands that reported director information to Ad Age as of Friday, 38 are men, seven are women and six are people of color. Last year there were three female directors and five people of color.
Can’t escape COVID
Thought you’d get to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday and forget about COVID? No such luck, thanks to a last-minute ad buy from Cue Health. The maker of at-home COVID-19 tests (among other things, apparently) will air its first Super Bowl spot as it seeks to promote all of its home health care capabilities, Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli writes. The spot starts in a way many of our days have started over the last few months, with a mom telling her young son that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID. “Let’s do a Cue test,” she says. The rest of the ad gets techy, with Cue being personified by Gal Gadot and talking about all the smart things she can do. But the ad, in a sea of light-hearted commercials, is a reminder COVID is still here.
To keep track of all the advertisers running national spots in the game, bookmark Ad Age’s regularly updated Super Bowl ad chart.
The Super Bowl has historically been a place for brands to make big awareness plays and promote their wares to the tune of about 100 million viewers. But amid data crackdowns and the demise of the third-party cookie, the Big Game could increasingly become a place for brands to build one-on-one relationships with consumers and grow their first-party databases, Ad Age’s Jack Neff writes. This is because Super Bowl ads typically generate a meaningful spike in search, e-commerce sales and traffic to brand websites, even if that uptick is short-lived. Read more about why not having a data strategy around a Super Bowl commercial buy could potentially be a waste.
Commercials keep coming in
As of Friday afternoon, 42 brands have pre-released their commercials. This is up from the 36 ads that were pre-released as of game time last year. Recent releases include two ads from T-Mobile that star godmother-goddaughter duo Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus.
Caesars Sportsbook also unveiled its spot during today’s live edition of Ad Age Remotely. The ad plays on Roman times, with JB Smoove starring as Julius Caesar, while Halle Berry is Caesar’s lover, Cleopatra. The commercial also features Eli, Peyton, Archie and Cooper Manning playing themselves.
Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Cutwater released the extended cut of its first-ever Super Bowl ad, which depicts Cutwater drinkers taking shortcuts like using a massage gun to tenderize meat or a blowtorch to melt snow. The ad takes inspiration from Apple’s “Here’s to the Crazy Ones,” the iconic 1997 ad campaign that launched the computer maker’s “Think Different” tagline and featured black-and-white videos of historical figures and visionaries such as Albert Einstein, John Lennon and Martin Luther King Jr. (Cutwater’s ad is shot in black-and-white.)
And HBO announced it would air a commercial for its upcoming series about the 1980s-era Los Angeles Lakers.
Catch up on lots of other Super Bowl ads released so far here.
Plus, read about the social media power of Super Bowl commercial celebrities.