The Super Bowl 2021 

Despite the ongoing pandemic, America couldn’t miss out on one of the most major events of the year: the Super Bowl. On its 55th anniversary, with a stadium packed full of 25,000 fans, and millions at home watching, it felt like the entire country was living for this moment of normalcy. Amongst all the food and grown men tackling each other for points, one of the most anticipated parts of the Super Bowl is the commercials. Celebrity cameos, outlandish settings, and overdone jokes, companies spend millions of dollars to one, get their ad spot, and two, make an ad that circles around in chatter the following days after the big game. Who are we kidding, more people talk about the ads than the actual game.

Why You Didn’t See Budweiser on Sunday Night

Although we did see many of the same major brands — Doritos, Bud Light — participate in the ad bowl, there were some who decided to sit this one out. Why? Amidst the almost year long fight against the pandemic, some didn’t see it right to spend $5 million or more on a thirty second ad. Famously known for their beautiful Clydesdale horses and above average beer, Budweiser was missing in the 2021 commercial lineup. Prior to the big game, a statement released by the beer brand said that the company has decided, amongst the pandemic, to reallocate their advertising money to help those affected by the pandemic. They are also spending money in a partnership with the Ad Council to raise awareness about the Covid-19 vaccine. But, don’t fret — there are digital ads circulating in place of the usual big-screen air time. 

Coke and Pepsi Join The Beer Guys

Following in the footsteps of Budweiser, both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo opted out of their usual prime-time commercial spots this year. The Coke company reported to CNBC that it would also be spending their ad dollars on Covid-19 relief efforts, especially after their own shares had taken a hit due to sales within restaurants and other foodservice companies. Although there were no Pepsi commercials (could you imagine another Kendall Jenner scandal, but pandemic based? Eek!), the soda brand found other ways to spend their money, like sponsoring the halftime show. 

Genuine or Saving Face? 

When I first heard of several companies withdrawing their Super Bowl ad time from this year’s event, I was surprised. Admittedly, I’ve never cared an ounce about the Super Bowl, but like everyone else, was always interested in how companies across the world would ball out for their thirty seconds of air time. I was skeptical to hear that some major brands, as stated above, were genuine about their forgone air time. I’ll give it to Budweiser: although some of the Anheuser-Busch products still found airtime, the company seems genuine about shifting their focus and efforts to the health and wellness of the American people. Coke and Pepsi? They could’ve tried a little harder. Pepsi still sponsored the halftime show with some of its other products still having airtime. Coke’s seemed semi-genuine, although seemingly more worried about their own sales rather than general human interest. 

The State of Human Health is Most Important

Either way, I have to give a nod to these three companies, and the several others that decided to not participate in the traditional ways this Super Bowl. Whether they are genuine behind their actions or not, the general public will never know. However, they did start a conversation, and got some people thinking, what is really important right now? I understand the need and want for normalcy just as much as everyone else. I’m about to commemorate my four hard years of college with a Zoom call graduation ceremony. It’s not what I pictured, but it’s what needed at this point in time. But what are we saying to the country and to the rest of the world by going on with this event? Covid-19 is still rearing its ugly head across the country. Hopefully, with the vaccine, numbers will progressively decrease and we can breathe a sigh of relief, but we must put the health and wellness of people first. So, for now, I’ll be avoiding a stadium filled with thousands of people cheering on sweaty grown men. 

About the Author:

Kady Volmering is a senior at Grand Valley State University, finishing up her last semester. In May, she’ll be graduating with a BA in Advertising and Public Relations, accompanied by a writing minor. She is currently the VP of Professional Development on the GVPRSSA e-board and is also an account associate with GrandPR.