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Hello Super Bowl junkies,

I’m Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age’s senior editor, counting down to Super Bowl LV. In the weeks leading up to the game, which will, as of now, air on CBS on Feb. 7, Ad Age will bring you breaking news, analysis and first looks at the high-stakes, Big-Game commercials—all in our Super Bowl Alert newsletter. Sign up right here to get them in your email. 

Big voids

Some major brands will be noticeably absent from Super Bowl LV. Pepsi will not run a standalone ad this year, Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz reports. Instead, the brand will focus on its sponsorship of the halftime show featuring The Weeknd. This marks the first time since 2017 that Pepsi will not run an in-game spot for its flagship cola brand. This is the 10th straight year the brand has sponsored the halftime show, and trademark Pepsi has run a separate ad in all of those years except for 2017, when PepsiCo dedicated a 30-second spot to its then-new Lifewtr premium bottled water brand. (In some years, Pepsi used its in-game ad time to hype the halftime show, like in 2014 and 2015.)

Still, the company will run spots for its Mtn Dew brand and it could also run commercials for other beverage or snack offerings.

Hyundai is also sitting out of the Super Bowl after running commercials in 12 of the the last 13 games. “This was a decision based on marketing priorities, the timing of upcoming vehicle launches and where we felt it was best to allocate our marketing resources,” according to a company spokesperson, who added, “we will certainly be back.”   

The last time the company skipped the Big Game was in 2015, when a meaningful crop of automakers also decided not to run ads.

The auto sector will be watched closely, as the category, which typically has a large presence in the Super Bowl, is expected to be lighter this year due to the effects of the pandemic. Kia, another regular automotive Super Bowl advertiser, has not yet announced its Super Bowl plans.

You can take a look at prior Super Bowl ads from these brands and many others in our voluminous, searchable Super Bowl Ad Archive.

Everybody in

But one automaker that looks like it is prepping for a Super Bowl return is General Motors. The company announced a re-design of its corporate logo—its biggest change in 56 years—that could provide some insight into its Super Bowl plans. The effort is meant to highlight its aggressive electrical vehicle push. The company used its Super Bowl commercial in 2020 to begin building buzz for the new electric model of the Hummer with an ad featuring LeBron James.

To promote the redesign, GM tapped McCann Worldgroup for an ad campaign called “Everybody In,” which stars author Malcolm Gladwell. A person familiar with the campaign told Ad Age that it will be supported with a Super Bowl ad, and in November we reported that the automaker was poised to return to the game for the second straight year.

To keep track of all the advertisers running national spots in the game, bookmark Ad Age’s regularly updated Super Bowl ad chart.

Cars and beer

The auto category has certainly dominated the Super Bowl historically, along with alcoholic beverages. The two categories accounted for 28% of total Super Bowl revenue in 2020, according to new data from Kantar. It remains to be seen how many automakers turn up, while beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, which accounted for 10% of total Super Bowl ad revenue in each of the last five years, has yet to reveal its Big Game plans.

One category that could help make up for any shortfall in some of the other categories is streaming. Streaming services from Amazon, Hulu, Quibi and others increased spend by 46% last year and, with the launch of new platforms over the past year, Kantar expects it to sustain an active presence in Super Bowl LV.

In total, the 2020 game generated $450 million in ad revenue for Fox, $100 million more than the year prior, according to Kantar. The cost of a 30-second spot was also up 9% from five years ago and is expected to hit $5.6 million this year.

For those brands still considering Super Bowl ads, Kantar’s research shows that the creative which resonates best with consumers is simple and positive.

Join Ad Age on Feb. 2 for a look at how brands are navigating the pandemic and addressing diversity in their ads for the 2021 game.

For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.

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