8 Biggest Super Bowl Ad Trends; Inside Tide’s War Room: Tuesday’s First Things First

Plus, humor and nostalgia as a strategic response to today's divisive climate

Brands heavily tapped into nostalgia and outer space during their Super Bowl ads. Getty Images, Audi, Hyundai, JEEP, Doritos, Mountain Dew
Headshot of Jess Zafarris

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The 8 Biggest Trends in Advertising During Super Bowl 54

Brands went big, long and cinematic in this year’s selection of Big Game ads, spending an estimated $435 million on Super Bowl commercials. In addition to a widespread celebrity presence across many of the 2020 Super Bowl ads—including Martin Scorsese, Rainn Wilson, Busy Philipps (twice!), Chris Evans, Ellen DeGeneres, Chrissy Teigen and so many more—the lineup saw an explosion in ads featuring movie references. Not even the sky was the limit, both in terms of a recurring space theme and the apparently endless budget of conglomerates like PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch InBev and P&G, which each spent at least $30 million on ads.

Read more: Other top trends included new product launches, brands advertising during the Big Game for the first time and strategic shifts resulting from the recent death of Kobe Bryant.

Super Bowl Ads Used Humor and Nostalgia to Distract From Today’s Divisive Climate

Super Bowl 2020 arrived amid a tense, divisive political and cultural climate, and political ads from both President Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg running political ads during the game—a first-time occurrence for presidential candidates—didn’t do much to ease that tension. But other brands aimed for a more comforting escapism, gravitating toward humor and nostalgia this year.

Pepsi and Frito-Lay utilized a humorous, throwback approach in its ads, including a parody of The Shining starring Bryan Cranston for Mountain Dew Zero and an MC Hammer-centric spot for Cheetos Popcorn. Pepsi Zero Sugar took inspiration from classic Missy Elliott music videos featuring the artist while Frito-Lay enlisted Lil Nas X and Sam Elliott for a Doritos Cool Ranch dance-off. Jeep scored big popularity points with its ad featuring Bill Murray reprising his role from Groundhog Day, and Hyundai’s “Smaht Pahk” spot tickled audiences.

Read more: This strategy has proven effective among millennial audiences, but it’s not without risks.

Here’s What Happened Inside Tide’s Super Bowl #LaundryLater War Room

Adweek CPG reporter Paul Hiebert took us behind the scenes with a look at Tide’s Super Bowl war room. The team of 40, a hybrid of PR and creative teams from Procter & Gamble’s Woven agency, gathered in support of the single brand as its Super Bowl ads rolled out. All of these people worked together through the Big Game, aiming at getting people and brands alike to respond with their own spin on the idea “Something Now, #LaundryLater.”

Read more: The ultimate goal of the night: to amplify Tide’s message across social media, get attention and make sure that attention is positive. Read a play-by-play account of the night’s events.

5 Brands That Saw the Most Amazon Hits From the Super Bowl

In a study of how TV advertising impacts short-term purchasing behavior on Amazon, ecommerce analytics company Profitero found that Super Bowl ads prompted viewers to buy both during and after the game. The products hailed from brands with Super Bowl commercials this year and were available on Amazon at the time the ads aired. Specifically, Big Game advertisers that were ready for in- and post-game purchases on Amazon with strong positioning and well-stocked products saw big gains in market share.

Read more: These are the five Super Bowl advertisers they determined saw the biggest gains on Amazon on Sunday.

Best of the Rest: Today’s Top News and Insights

Podcast | 2020 Super Bowl in Review: What Worked and What Didn’t

To discuss the highs and lows of this year’s Super Bowl, Adweek podcast co-hosts David Griner and Ko Im are joined by senior editor Doug Zanger, deputy brands editor Diana Pearl and chief of staff Jameson Fleming.

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@JessZafarris jessica.farris@adweek.com Jess Zafarris (née Jessica Farris) is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.
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