new advertisers superbowl

Whether you’re a football fan or not, most everyone loves the Super Bowl commercials. In different times they were the subject of conversation around the water coolers on Monday mornings, but this year is a little different.

Actually, it’s a lot different. Our lives have been fundamentally changed due to the pandemic, and the mood and motifs surrounding this year’s Super Bowl advertising reflect our new way of life. And not only that, but many long-time brand staples also sat this year out while new advertisers stepped up and bet big on Super Bowl ads.

Specifically, we’ll take a brief look at these brands that entered into the Super Bowl limelight for the first time – and how they did:

  • Vroom taking the pain out of car buying
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro’s superstar influencer marketing contest
  • Draft Kings making a mark with their meta offering
  • Indeed offering employment hope to viewers

And here are a few relevant statistics surrounding the coveted Super Bowl ad space:

  • Including digital viewers, last year’s Super Bowl captured over 102 million viewers, making it the 11th most-watched program in TV history.
  • Knowing your demographics is critical in Super Bowl advertising as 47% of men believe the game itself is most important as opposed to only 19% of women viewers. And 20% of women are most excited about the commercials as opposed to only 7% of men.
  • During the first Super Bowl in 1967, NBC charged $42K for a thirty-second ad slot, a little over $325K in today’s money. This year the bidding for a thirty-second ad space with CBS started at $5.6M.

2021 How Strategic Brands Maximize Campaign Performance

The Super Bowl Has Shifted, Along with Everything Else

For obvious reasons, this year’s Super Bowl had a different feel to it. Tampa’s stadium has a capacity of 65k people, though only 25k were in attendance alongside 30k cutouts this year. It’s a sight we’ve grown accustomed to throughout the season and a reminder that the pandemic isn’t over.

And many of the brands that are usually Super Bowl advertising staples like Coke, Budweiser and Hyundai decided to divert their ad dollars elsewhere this year. And their absence made a lot of room for advertising newcomers in the big game that brought both funny and sober reminders of the times.

Using social listening to gain a consumer and market intelligence perspective on how fans felt leading up to the Super Bowl reveals many anticipating the commercials, even a week beforehand.


And our social sentiment analysis before the event showed sentiment hovering in the neighborhood of 50% on a scale of -100 to 100, indicating that most social media engagement leaned positively.

super-bowl-2021-sentiment-driversMuch of the negativity discussed online came from those fearing that the game would become a super-spreader event. Additionally, many lamented the thought of sitting at home watching the Super Bowl when they’d watch the game while out with friends in normal times.

Generally speaking, fans didn’t let the pandemic rain on their parade, however. Here’s a glimpse in AI Studio before the game where we can see the most prominent emotions registered were excitement (32%) followed by amusement (16%) and love (11%).


After the game, we see both sadness and disgust from hardcore Chiefs fans, and a good bit of amusement at Patriots’ fans expense, as Tom Brady threw two touchdowns to other former Patriot and Super Bowl champ, Rob Gronkowski to secure the Buccaneers’ win. And their “banned” T-Mobile commercial adds to it all.


It’s no secret that the pandemic has spawned or kick-started a slew of emerging trends. And the way marketers approach advertising has taken a significant shift based on consumer intelligence and market intelligence.

Since some of the big brands chose to repurpose their efforts during the Super Bowl this year, others have stepped into their shoes, and social media listening will decide the winners and losers in the coming days and weeks.

Let’s look at a few of the brands new to the scrimmage line this year and how they touched on our new normal.

2021 How Strategic Brands Maximize Campaign Performance

Vroom Pushes a Purchase Pain Point

Used car retailer Vroom knows its audience. And they play upon the fact that most everyone hates going to a dealership to buy a car. They’re committed to helping people rethink the way they buy, sell and trade-in their vehicles. And pushing contactless car delivery is a super-smart move during a pandemic – and so is advertising it during the Super Bowl. It just checks so many boxes.


Scotts Miracle-Gro Makes Major Celebrity Influencer Move

Scotts Miracle-Gro is learning hard into relationship development, bringing in big stars having a socially distanced cookout “just like us” while gardening (Martha Stewart) and making TikTok videos with the kids (John Travolta and daughter, Ella).


The ad encourages viewers to “keep growing” which is a solid bit of encouragement during these introspective times. Mentions, and sentiment approve of the effort:


And with it estimated that more than 185m sets of eyes were watching the game, keeping things positive and encouraging is a wise call.

Draft Kings Making Mark with Meta Offering

DraftKings is a sports betting operator and the official daily fantasy partner of the NFL. DraftKings had solidified its position in sports fans’ hearts during the pandemic providing a much-needed window into the world of esports back when most sporting events were sidelined. With sporting events back on the menu, DraftKing’s popularity has soared to new heights.

They came into the Super Bowl this year for the first time with not one, but two 15-second ads meant to excite fans with the opportunity to win big. The ads gave viewers the chance to bet on fourth-quarter action, with prize payouts ranging from $3 to $1M. It’s a super-smart approach from a brand that’s been tuned-in to its users’ wants and needs throughout the pandemic.


Indeed Offers Employment Hope to Viewers

Employment site Indeed has become a household name since the pandemic began. Untold thousands have seen their employment status affected, and Indeed stepped up in its first Super Bowl ad to let the world know it was there when you need them. It’s probably not an ad that would have made the big show in normal times, but these aren’t those times.

Indeed’s advertisement was a somber reminder that there’s still a lot of pandemic to get through, and this is especially true for those facing an employment crisis. Indeed’s ad message demonstrates consumer and market intelligence in action, as people love when brands acknowledge the needs they’re facing. And this need is huge.


As the online conversations play out over the next few days, social media analytics will reveal which of the new advertisers hit their mark and which ones fell flat. For the winners, the return on advertising investment could be a game-changer. While for the losers, it’s a lesson learned accompanied by a steep price tag.

Is your brand positioning to move into uncharted territory this year? Whether you’re sniffing out emerging trends, or pivoting to avoid a crisis, consumer and market intelligence built on next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) is the key to success. Be sure to reach out for a demo, and we’ll get your brand ready for the limelight!

2021 How Strategic Brands Maximize Campaign Performance

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