Super Bowl Ads Take Feel-Good Approach

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We’re at yet another inflection point in the COVID pandemic. The omicron wave appears to be receding across the U.S. and restrictions are once again lessening. As with other lulls, we’re left wondering whether we’ve seen the worst. The hope is that because omicron has been so infectious the virus will run short of hosts and at least become endemic instead of pandemic.

This break in the darkness coincides with Super Bowl Sunday, and advertisers have had the task of trying to acknowledge the heaviness of the past two years while looking toward a more hopeful future.

“Marketers are recognizing Americans have had a very heavy, difficult two-year period and are responding by bringing some good old-fashioned entertainment for Super Bowl Sunday,” Kimberly Whitler, marketing professor at the University of Virginia, told the Associated Press.

This year’s game, in the entertainment capital of Los Angeles, will feature a full stadium, and lots of eyeballs on TV around the world. Last year’s contest had 92 million viewers, the lowest total in 14 years, but with other live events also suffering from poor ratings, the Super Bowl is still guaranteed to be the most watched show of the year.

We’ll see a combination of nostalgia, always guaranteed to hit people in the feel-goods by hearkening back to a supposedly simpler time when they were younger and carefree. Now it’s the 90s that are nostalgic, so we’ll see callbacks to “Austin Powers” and “The Cable Guy.” We’ll also see a lot of the future, or at least the cutting edge of the present, with tons of crypto and NFT ads. As per usual, we’ll see attempts to tug at our heart strings and middle-of-the-road appeals to “unity” that avoid taking too much of a political stance.

Above all, we’ll see celebrities. When you’re paying $7 million for a 30-second spot, as those who bought airtime from NBC this year did, you want to get your money’s worth.

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