Super Bowl ads come out of the pandemic with humor and hope

February 9, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; A general aerial view of the Super Bowl LVI experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center and downtown. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

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LOS ANGELES, Feb 10 (Reuters) – A year ago, many Super Bowl announcers tiptoed into the American football championship trying to respectfully acknowledge a difficult year in the COVID-19 pandemic .

This Sunday, brands will return to the big game using the tried-and-tested tactic of making the greats laugh or trying to uplift audiences with messages of strength and triumph.

While COVID-19 remains a concern, new cases are down in the United States, some regions are scrapping mask mandates, and health experts are optimistic the virus is becoming more manageable.

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The game itself, in front of 70,000 people at SoFi Stadium outside Los Angeles, will look more like a pre-pandemic period than last year when crowds in Tampa, Florida were limited to a third of its size. capacity. Many advertisements will reflect this.

“We hope to get back to normal a bit. There are fans in the games and there is excitement,” two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning told Reuters.

Manning and his brother Peyton, a two-time Super Bowl champion, will appear in a commercial that features a road trip on a party bus to promote Frito-Lay products, including Doritos and Mountain Dew.

The Super Bowl gives brands the chance to pitch in front of America’s biggest television audience of the year, with around 100 million viewers. Broadcaster NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp, charged up to $7 million for 30 seconds of ad time.

Advertisers aren’t expected to explicitly mention the pandemic, but some will tout the ability to bounce back from challenges. Budweiser, for example, will tell the story of one of its Clydesdales recovering from an injury.

The brewer, owned by Anheuser-Busch Inbev (ABI.BR), skipped last year’s Super Bowl, instead donating to support COVID-19 vaccine awareness. The company decided to return with a more serious tone, said Budweiser vice president of marketing Daniel Blake, rather than something resembling its comedic talking frogs of the past.

“Coming back onstage with a message of hope and resilience for America was essential,” Blake said.

The game will feature a mix of announcers and returning brands making their first Super Bowl appearance.

Returning brands include automakers such as GM (GM.N) and Nissan, Kellogg’s (KN) Pringles and travel website Expedia (EXPE.O).

Amazon.com will release the first trailer for its highly anticipated streaming TV series “The Lord of the Rings” which will debut on Prime Video in September.

Newcomers will include cryptocurrency exchanges FTX Trading Ltd and Crypto.com.

“Many brands are taking stock of the times we’re in right now and the rise of curiosity around crypto and the metaverse,” said Shannon Miller, Adweek’s editor-in-chief.

Meta (FB.O), the company formerly known as Facebook, will showcase its Quest 2 virtual reality headset. The ad features an animatronic singing dog that has lost popularity but is finding a new and exciting life in the metaverse .

Elsewhere, celebrities will not be lacking. Arnold Schwarzenegger will play Zeus to promote an electric BMW, while Gwyneth Paltrow will tout Uber Eats (UBER.N). Zendaya will appear on behalf of Squarespace (SQSP.N) as a woman who turns to e-commerce to save her struggling shell business.

“We’re not going to see all this COVID stuff like we used to. People are tired of thinking about all of this,” said Ronald Goodstein, associate professor of marketing at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

He said brands returning to familiar themes or mascots such as the Budweiser Clydesdales will win over audiences this year.

“I think people are looking for a certain tradition. People like comfort given the time we have now, and there’s a certain comfort in nostalgia,” he added.

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Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Amy Tennery and Aleksandra Michalska in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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