Nostalgia, robotics and female-first ads to trump Super Bowl

Unruly shares its annual predictions for big game commercial themes this year.

Olay's first Super Bowl spot is a throwback to slasher movies
Olay's first Super Bowl spot is a throwback to slasher movies

Whoever said Super Bowl advertising is dead obviously doesn’t know that around 103.4 million people tuned in last year -- with an estimated 25 percent watching just for the commercials.

The number was down from 111.3 million in 2017. But there’s no denying the power of Super Bowl eyes.

Ad tech company Unruly, which measures brand impact by collating data around emotions felt when viewing commercials, has already begun dissecting this year’s spots.

Terence Scroope, UnrulyEQ’s US solutions director, has shared the themes likely to dominate Super Bowl LIII ads.

Brands leaning into nostalgia

"There seems to be a degree of nostalgia that brands are capitalizing on in 2019," he said. "We’re looking at a couple of revivals of characters like Stella Artois with The Dude and Doritos bringing the Backstreet Boys back."

It’s true of Pepsi as well, which has a spot with Lil Jon and his "OKAAAY" catchphrase. Elsewhere, Budweiser is bringing back the Clydesdale.

Scroope continued: "Nostalgia as a theme is an interesting juxtaposition to last year because we saw a lot of celebrities in their 15 minutes like Groupon with Tiffany Haddish and Amazon Alexa commercial with Cardi B among other people."


Celebrities aren’t going away

Actually, quite the opposite. Unruly has dismantled 38 Super Bowl 2019 ads so far and found celebrity appearances amounting to more than 24.


Robotics to play a bigger role

"There’s an interesting secondary theme of robotics in ads," Scrooped explained. "That’s not necessarily new, but we’re seeing them take a larger and larger share of the pie. Then there are a lot of brands that have nothing to do with technology and are using technology as a character like Pringles with voice. It might be a reaction to consumers being more interested in technology."

Brands like Turbo Tax, Intuit and Expensify will have more of a voice this year. And even the Skechers footwear ad includes a heavy nod to tech as it takes place in a very connected house.


Some brands are throwing rule book

Um, that Devour ad, anyone? Enough said.


Female-first ads get well overdue spotlight

Scroope said: "Around 50 percent of the audience are female and it seems like a lot of brands are finally waking up to that fact and marketing directly to them or at least making sure they are represented in the ads."

One to watch is Olay’s first Super Bowl spot from Procter & Gamble and Saatchi & Saatchi.


Keep your eyes peeled for off-field battles

The groundwork is laid for a couple of tasty conflicts this year. Scroope pointed out we can’t overlook that the Super Bowl is being hosted in Atlanta -- the city that Coke built -- while Pepsi is a major sponsor. Coca-Cola has been locked out of any game spots, leaving Pepsi free to seriously step on its competitor’s turf.  

"Coke has an entire city as a canvas for advertising so it will be interesting to see if they do anything guerilla -- I’m sure they will," he said. "They’ll be painting the town red to make sure Pepsi doesn’t get too much of a voice."

Meanwhile, eyes should fall on how the auto world will push to be heard from the Mercedes Benz Stadium. Mercedes has a spot, too, but hasn’t locked out any other car brands.   

Scroope added: "While a lot that are advertising might not be their direct competitor to Mercedes, you do have Audi. It will be interesting to see how much they play up their spot."

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