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Changing the Game


Written by Kristina Calhoun

Companies can gain popularity on their own, but the best way to get a message heard or a product shown is by buying advertisements – and Super Bowl ads are the most coveted promotional spaces of all. However, they do not come cheap. The estimated cost for a 30-second window during the Super Bowl broadcast is 5.5 million.

This year, marketers for bigger companies have been concerned regarding the tone that they should take during a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and left millions with long-term complications . Since everything done by any celebrity or company is under a microscope by the public, companies had to be careful.

“It’s a difficult time,” said Carol Osborne with the University of South Florida’s Zimmerman Advertising Program. “What is the tone? What is the message you want to send?”

Four companies changed the game this year and decided that the message they wanted to send was an important one. Budweiser, Coke, Pepsi and Hyundai decided to opt-out of Super Bowl ads this year. Osborne did some research and found that instead of spending millions on an ad, Budweiser decided to put the money towards the vaccine for COVID-19.

Despite these big players sitting out on commercials this year, the extra broadcast time did not go unused. Smaller brands like Chipotle, Huggies and DoorDash had their moment in the spotlight. DoorDash roped in some big names for their ad. Rapper Daveed Diggs and “Sesame Street” stalwarts Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Grover were included in the presentation. Big names such as Amazon, Cheetos, and Doritos still had their ads during the big game.

By forgoing Super Bowl ads and donating toward the COVID-19 vaccine, these bigger companies are not only helping thousands – if not millions – of Americans, but they are also showing that they care about more than just making money. They care about everyone who has been affected by COVID-19, and they want to use their resources to help.