Super Bowl Advertisers Scared to Death of Offending Some Portion of Viewers

According to a report from the New York Post, several prominent brands have decided that this is not the right time to spend tens of millions of dollars on the most coveted advertiser real estate in all of the media. The companies are reportedly scared that they will accidentally alienate and offend some portion of the Super Bowl viewing audience, deciding ultimately that it will be safer to save the money and wait for a slightly less divisive time to jump back into the Big-Game commercial landscape.

“There is trepidation around Super Bowl advertising this year,” said ad executive Bill Oberlander told the Post. “For the Super Bowl, you generally go big or go home. I think brands are going home rather than spending tens of millions of dollars and not getting it right. They’re saying, ‘let’s wait until this s***storm clears.’”

We’re not talking about small brands, either. Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Ford, and even Avocados From Mexico have apparently decided to save on their ad budgets this year for fear of offending the country.

“Every client conversation I’ve had these days is about who is going to be offended by this ad,” said ad executive Rob Schwartz. “There’s a lot of discussion about risk mitigation. What that tends to do is that it makes things very bland and not effective or it forces you to look at universal topics like hope or humor.”

As an example of the kind of advertising that companies may wish to be careful of, the ad men the Post spoke to referenced Gillette’s Super Bowl spot from 2019. Most of you will undoubtedly recall that blunder, in which the razor company bafflingly turned their slogan “the best a man can get” into an attack on so-called “toxic masculinity.” It seems utterly bizarre, in hindsight, for a company that depends on men for its sales to attack those men in its biggest ad of the year, but Gillette apparently didn’t see that as a problem at the time. The backlash, from both a critical and sales perspective, undoubtedly helped them see the light.

We understand why companies would be antsy in our current climate, but honestly: How hard is it to keep political statements out of your messaging? Yes, there are those on the left who are going to pitch a fit if you make a commercial that insinuates that tampons are for women or something faux-controversial like that, but you can’t please ‘em all. However, it’s trivially easy to avoid ads that condemn 50% of the voting population while trying to pander to the other half.

Does anyone really need to hear Pepsi’s take on the Black Lives Matter movement, anyway?

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