Super Bowl LII: Will Ads Overshadow Game?


Ah, the Dog Days of Winter. Christmas and New Years are long gone, spring is several months away and there’s another snow storm coming next week. Yippee!

Fortunately, there is one interesting thing on the horizon: the Super Bowl. Unlike almost any other sports event—save the Olympics—the annual NFL championship draws interest from all segments of society. And even though this year’s event faces a host of challenges regionally (the Packers elimination), nationally (the take-a-knee protests and CTE controversy) and internationally (the Winter Olympics), it is still expected to pull in upwards of 100 million viewers. That makes it more than three times larger than the next most-viewed event, the Oscars, and one of the only remaining TV programs seen primarily in real time. Equally importantly, it is one of the only TV shows that draws almost as much interest for its advertising as for the actual “content” – and if the Patriots end up blowing out the Eagles, those commercials may overshadow the game.

So, what will we see from Super Bowl LII advertisers? While major brands are playing things a little closer to the vest than usual this year in terms of pre-game teaser spots, several have revealed their plans—or at least hinted at them. Here are some trends to look for:

More female celebrities

Celebrity appearances are a staple of Super Bowl advertising, but those celebs are usually male, not female. Look for more women to play starring roles this year, including model Cindy Crawford (for Pepsi), singer Iggy Azalea (for Monster), and comedian Tiffany Haddish (for Groupon).

Social and political messages

While using the Super Bowl as a platform for social activism is risky (just ask Audi or Lumber 84), expect to see a number of advertisers do precisely that. Stella Artois will continue its association with, while other ads will address issues such as parenting and female empowerment. One of the more interesting stories is a spot promoting awareness of climate change, which was put together by pro skier Julian Carr though a Kickstarter campaign.

Real-time creative

Last year, advertisers including Hyundai and Snickers aired ads that were created during the game – with Hyundai’s military oriented “Better Drives Us” spot earning kudos as the event’s most effective ad. Snickers is out this year, but Hyundai is back and expected to do something similar. Given their previous success, it is likely others will, as well.

Battle for the grocery store

While categories like automotive, financial services and entertainment will be well-represented as always, food/beverage ads will be ubiquitous. Brands in the big game include Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Kraft, Doritos, M&Ms, Avocados from Mexico and Pringles. Look for humorous approaches to carry the day here. Dilly, dilly!

NOTE: Boelter + Lincoln’s creative director, Garth Cramer, will give his take on which spots worked (and which didn’t) on WTMJ-TV’s Feb. 5 morning show—as well as