The (Virtual) Differences of the Super Bowl amid a Pandemic

It feels like just months ago, we were wondering if the NFL season was even going to take place, and many had written off the Super Bowl with “it’s just not going to happen.” Yet here we are, on the precipice of the Super Bowl LV. This will be another countrywide celebration that is seeing some alterations this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we wanted to take a quick look at shopping behavior changes, how people are viewing the game, and we would be remiss not to mention the commercials. 

Less People Does Not Equal Less Fun 

According to Numerator, 72% of viewers will be watching the big game in their own home. However, this isn’t slowing down the party for most. 15% of shoppers said they plan on buying more food and drinks than they have in previous years while 47% plan on buying the same amount. We have seen this mindset thrive since we started seeing states lock down last March. People are making every effort to ensure fun, joy and traditions will not feel lackluster while keeping everyone safe at the same time. So don’t expect basket size or the last-minute Saturday crowds to decline drastically. February 7th will still be a party.  

Leave One Hand Free for the Second Screen 

Just because friends and family won’t be huddled onto a couch, trash talking or hugging it out in person, doesn’t mean they won’t find a way to make their feelings known. We expect to see livestreams and video calls like we did with Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. So while one device may be dedicated to video chats, personal devices will be used to sling text messages and GIFs so we can still feel like we are celebrating the crazy plays together. The digital space surrounding the Super Bowl has become more lucrative in the last few years, and the pandemic has accelerated its usage beyond what anyone could have imagined. 

Could This be the End of Super Bowl Ads 

Several brands we’re accustomed to seeing during commercial breaks are pressing pause on Super Bowl ad spend this year. A few of these brands are Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Avocados From Mexico and Ford, just to name a few. While we’re left questioning what this means for the future of Super Bowl ads, these brands are assuring us that this is just a pause. This way, they’re not spending millions to guess what consumers want to hear during such a volatile time. Other brands are using the time to reinvent. So, with less ads, viewers could change how they are spending the commercial breaks. Are they using this time to connect virtually with others or cook another batch of nachos, or will they stay tuned in every moment? 

We are all getting used to being flexible and inventive to enjoy all the moments we love with the ones we love. Even though fewer people will be looking at one screen, the party isn’t slowing down. The digital space is going to see a boom in traffic unlike ever before due to celebrating virtually and the unprecedented rise in sports betting. And let’s not hang our heads about the lower-than-average ad turnout, sometimes you must take a year off to come back better than ever. This year may look a bit different, but people are ready to make this a Super Bowl for the ages. 

Contributed by: Aaron Miller, Senior Planner, Insight & Strategy Denver

Image Source: Unsplash