Super Bowl advertisers will reportedly pass on overly ‘woke’ spots this year. We’ll see.

A preview of this year’s Super Bowl spots suggested advertisers have felt the sting of “go woke, go broke” and are now looking to turn it back to be in the black.

With tens of millions of viewers expected to tune into Super Bowl LVIII, marketing executives have telegraphed their response to the multi-billion dollar cautionary tale of Bud Light, marking a win in the culture war.

According to Variety, “While some commercials that run in CBS’ Feb. 11 broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII may shock or surprise, most will aim to comfort or amuse, as marketers pull back on pushing the envelope. The bulk of the 70-or-so Super Bowl commercials that run will rely heavily on celebrities such as Kate McKinnon, Tina Fey, Jason Momoa or LL Cool J.”

“Few of them will expand beyond the usual 30-second or 60-second running time,” the report continued, “according to two people familiar with the matter — a change from recent years when the Big Game featured commercials 90 seconds or even two minutes in length to encompass big concepts and cameos, such as Bruce Springsteen appearing in an ad for Jeep. And some may tap into consumers’ collective memories for such things as Budweiser’s famous Clydesdale horses or the Coors Light Chill Train.”

In addition to mounting concern over blowback, the estimated cost for a 30-second spot was said to be between $6.5 million and $7 million, upping the risk factor for featuring a flop.

“Advertisers are very aware that things can go wrong at the Super Bowl,” Tim Calkins, professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management told Variety as he noted any ad can “manage to annoy people or cause backlash. Nobody wants to put their career on the line with a certain piece of Super Bowl footage. There is a huge incentive to be cautious.”

Readily recalled was a 2017 ad produced by 84 Lumber that appeared to encourage an open border policy as then-President Donald Trump had been elected promising to build the wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

“The investment is so high, and the attention is so great that you have to be a very brave marketer to take a big creative risk on the Super Bowl today,” said Calkins.

Michelle Deignan, vice president of U.S. Oreo operations, told the outlet, “Life generally is more difficult for consumers. They are more constrained.”

“I think you’ll see those brands that lean into nostalgia, humor, emotion at the Super Bowl…those brands will resonate with the consumer,” she suggested.

This included Budweiser as the beverage company is still reeling from their promotion of transgenderism influencer Dylan Mulvaney. They have returned to their trusty Clydesdales and small town Americana.

“There is so much that is going on. We are stimulated all the time, and going back to basics and delivering things the old-school way is really something that consumers are looking for,” Budweiser USA’s Head of Marketing Kristina Punwani told Variety.

“Overall, there will be good advertising,” Calkins anticipated while adding, “I doubt we will be blown away.”

Kevin Haggerty


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