Traditional big spenders on Super Bowl ads are sitting this one out, and letting stakeholders know that they take the pandemic seriously, according to Virginia Tech’s Nneka Logan. “They want to stop the spread and are willing to put resources towards it. They’re putting their money where their mouth is.”
Super Bowl LV matching the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be played on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, at 6:30 p.m.
Budweiser, Coke and Pepsi are among the brands refocusing their message in the age of COVID. In the case of Anheuser-Busch, which is donating its Budweiser ad spend to the Ad Council and to COVID Collaborative’ s Vaccine Education Initiative to increase vaccine awareness, they position the brand as a good corporate citizen, said Logan.
During the Super Bowl game, Anheuser-Busch will still run ads for other beverages in their portfolio of brands, such as Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA and more. Similarly, while PepsiCo is not advertising its signature cola during the big game, they will still have a strong presence through their sponsorship of the halftime show.
“Coca-Cola recently had layoffs spurred by weak sales resulting from the pandemic,” Logan said. “Reallocating dollars away from expensive ad spend may be a great way to show employees that they care. Taking care of your people, your employees – especially during tough times – is one of the best ways for a company to demonstrate a genuine commitment to corporate social responsibility..
“For those brands that have a serious message to share, they have to take special care to communicate in a way that doesn’t heighten the audience’s anxiety or further dampen spirits,” Logan said. “They have to figure out how to communicate in ways that drive home the seriousness of their messages while helping people to feel empowered and hopeful. It’s a tough challenge for advertisers, but the creative ones will figure out how to strike the right tone.”
VT associate professor Nneka Logan’s expertise is focused in public relations, organizational communication, corporate discourse, race and diversity. Her work has been published in the Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, Public Relations Inquiry, the Journal of Business Ethics and in other scholarly outlets. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked in a variety of communication roles for a multibillion-dollar corporate organization and its subsidiaries for more than nine years, managing internal, external and executive communication strategies, tactics, programs and projects.