Editor’s Letter: Adweek Suits Up for the Super Bowl

All the coverage you'll need for the annual brand bacchanal

Lilly Singh and Busy Philipps
Lilly Singh (l.) and Busy Philipps are among the many stars in Olay’s space-themed Super Bowl spot. Maggie Shannon for Adweek
Headshot of Lisa Granatstein

It’s Super Bowl central here at Adweek. A frenzied week of marketing and media coverage is upon us, and you’ll find up-to-the-minute news on who’s in, who’s out, best/worst ads live from our Game Day war room, along with strategies and other insights on all our platforms, including our Big Game Tracker at Adweek.com and, of course, this entire Super Bowl-themed issue.

Correct me if Im wrong (as Im sure you will), but youre reading the only publication entirely dedicated to this annual brand bacchanal. And why shouldn’t it be? With 30-second spots going for as much as $5.6 million this year, which doesnt include millions spent on production and talent, your ad better be memorable—in the best way possible.

One spot we knew would catch some early buzz was Olay’s next iteration of its “Face Anything” campaign created by Badger & Winters, complete with the cheeky #MakeSpaceForWomen callout on Twitter to donate to Girls Who Code. Once deputy brand editor Diana Pearl got wind of the ad concept, featuring a formidable lineup that includes retired astronaut Nicole Stott, Busy Philipps, Lilly Singh, Taraji P. Henson and Katie Couric mixing heart with humor, we knew it would be a winner. Just a few days before Christmas, Pearl found herself in a West Hollywood studio with exclusive behind-the-scenes access. One thing that stood out to me was how excited everyone was about the spot,” says Pearl. The atmosphere on set had a great energy. Everyone spoke about how cool it was that this was a Super Bowl ad with an all-female cast, with a female director and created by a female-led agency. You could feel that happiness no matter who you were talking to, whether it was the talent or a member of the crew.” For a first look, Pearl will break the Olay spot later this week on Adweek.com.

Buying media for the Super Bowl is high-stakes poker—you go all in, hope you have the best in-game slot and wait. Last May, Fox and the NFL shook things up, announcing they had reduced the number of ad breaks to speed up the game, putting the same number of spots into four fewer pods, which caused a lot of anxiety for media buyers. How do you decide what’s the most valuable ad pod, especially when there are fewer of them to choose from? TV/media editor Jason Lynch made the rounds at media agencies and shares their buying strategies in his “When to Get in the Game” analysis. “It struck me that no one had written about the thinking behind where the best place in the game is to run that spot that you have spent as much as $5.6 million on,” says Lynch. “What was fascinating to me about this story is that everyone has a different theory about which position is best. And even after five decades, there’s still no definitive answer.”

There’s lots more Super Bowl content here, including Ann-Marie Alcántara’s story on how DTC brands like Thinx and Naadam, which can’t afford to blow out their budgets, are finding novel ways of creating Super Bowl-worthy moments. Maybe in the near future a bot will do all the work for them. In fact, the future may be here sooner than we think. We tested our own text-generating AI Super Bowl Bot with some … interesting … ad concept pitches. Emerging tech reporter Patrick Kulp shares some of the crazier ones (hello, Disney+) and weighs in on the “growing, inventive power of AI.”

Finally, right before you land on our last “Back” page, senior editor Robert Klara’s whimsical thoughts on archival snapshots, you’ll find what we hope will be a nice diversion on your commute (or your work)—a Super Bowl-themed crossword puzzle.

Think you know all the brains behind the brands and their Big Game ads? Well, let’s see about that. First one to send us a correctly completed puzzle image to crossword@adweek.com will score two free tickets to our March 19 Elevate: AI event in New York, which will explore how artificial intelligence is transforming marketing and the culture at large. The puzzle will also be accessible on your desktop browser and tablet at Adweek.com/crosswords when answers are posted the next morning. We’ll be doing the crossword contests for NewFronts, Upfronts, Cannes Lions and other industry and Adweek tentpole events and awards with more opportunities to win cool prizes and bragging rights.

Let the games begin!


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This story first appeared in the Jan. 27, 2020, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@lgranatstein lisa.granatstein@adweek.com Lisa Granatstein is the editor, svp, programming at Adweek.
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