The 4 Biggest Ad Trends You’ll See During Sunday’s Super Bowl

Look for altruism, humor and surprise

On Sunday, while the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots go head to head, thousands of marketing professionals will be waiting to see if the $5 million-plus they spent on a Super Bowl ad will actually get consumers’ attention. Could Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage’s lip-sync battle be the next Puppymonkeybaby for Mountain Dew? Will Groupon finally have a Super Bowl ad people like thanks to Tiffany Haddish? Can Matt Damon actually inspire people to buy a chalice because it’ll help those in need of water?

Before we find out how these commercials are received, let’s look at some of the trends you’ll see during the Big Game.

1. Multiple spots

Given the price tag attached to Super Bowl ads, it might seem crazy for brands to pony up more than $5 million for 30 seconds of your attention, but some brands are taking things to the next level this year. Instead of just one 30-second spot, some like Budweiser, Michelob Ultra and Toyota are buying multiple spots during the game.

“Rote repetition is important now more than ever,” said Rachel Spiegelman, CEO, Los Angeles-based creative shop Pitch. “Stats for how consumers multitask while watching TV have hit new heights, and during the Super Bowl, those figures increase [times 10] in nature because of increased social activity—both online and in real life. Hitting the Super Bowl’s huge audience of about 115 million people, multiple times, is one way the big guys can take advantage of being a big guy, which is getting harder and harder in modern times.”

Contrary to the push for six-second ads, Robert Green, CCO of Ripple Collective, believes brands are buying multiple spots in the Super Bowl this year because “it’s simply impossible to do real storytelling in a 15- or 30-second stand-alone [ads].”

“The most that can be achieved is a vignette,” he said. “But with every brand claiming it has a story and every agency claiming to be masters of narrative, it’s inevitable that the trend towards multiple episodes would become part of the biggest ad event of the year.”

Eric Springer, CCO at Innocean, believes the stage and eyeballs that live events like the Super Bowl, the Oscars or the World Series provide are worth the cost.

“I tell clients to seize the moment, grab the mic and tell the masses what you want them to know about you,” Springer said. “Think of it this way: If your brand is a band, would you rather play Madison Square Garden in front of 75,000 people or your neighborhood Pete’s Coffee for 12 people? I’d take the Garden any day of the week.”

2. No more prereleasing

In recent years it has become standard practice to release full ads before the game. However, this year, many brands including Diet Coke, T-Mobile and Fiat Chrysler are holding back, waiting to release their full spots until they air during the Super Bowl.

“In an age where pretty much everyone is prereleasing their spots, holding back your spot until game day can stand apart and create buzz for the brand,” said Dan Kelleher, CCO at Deutsch in New York. “But you need to have a plan. Are you teasing it beforehand? Is there a reason you’re holding it back that creates anticipation? Is only airing the spot once part of the creative idea? Just having a spot on the Super Bowl is a PR opportunity for a brand that should be taken advantage of, whether or not you reveal the work prior to the game.”

Pitch’s Spiegelman believes brands are shifting away from prereleasing ads because “consumers expect more from brands they give their attention to.”