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Hello Super Bowl junkies,

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

Super Bowl LV is certainly poised to make history, with Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s becoming the first NFL team to play in the Big Game on their home turf. Tampa Bay and quarterback Tom Brady (who will make his 10th Super Bowl appearance) will be joined by the Kansas City Chiefs, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

No Clydesdales, no puppies

And speaking of making history, for the first time in nearly four decades, Budweiser won’t air a Super Bowl commercial, Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz reports. The decision by Anheuser-Busch InBev to sideline the brand follows similar moves by Coca-Cola and Pepsi (although Pepsi will still sponsor the halftime show), signaling that big brands are taking a markedly different approach to this year’s game as COVID and political strife continue to dominate the news cycle.

Instead of running an ad for Bud, AB InBev will reallocate the spending to support the Ad Council’s coronavirus vaccine public education campaign. 

AB InBev, which for years has been the game’s exclusive beer advertiser, will still consume at least four minutes of national ad airtime in the national broadcast, on par with last year. Ads will run for Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. The brewer will also run a corporate brand commercial to highlight the company’s “commitment to making a positive impact on communities and playing a role in our nation’s economic recovery.” 

Relive some of Budweiser’s iconic Super Bowl ads in Ad Age’s Super Bowl Archive.

But there are burritos

Chipotle Mexican Grill, DoorDash and e-commerce platform Mercari are the latest brands to announce they are making their first Super Bowl ad buys.  

Chipotle plans to use 30 seconds of air time to kick-start its efforts to help the careers of young farmers and showcase its signature burrito, of course. Chipotle features a young boy dining at home, burrito in hand, who poses the question “can a burrito change the world?” Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl reports. The spot focuses on how food choices can affect the future, which is in line with the message the chain has been promoting for years. Chipotle also has a delivery message, with plans to waive delivery fees on its app and site for orders of $10 or more on Super Bowl Sunday. Watch the spot here.

And speaking of delivery, the food delivery app DoorDash will make its Super Bowl debut with a commercial starring actor and singer Daveed Diggs and Sesame Street muppets, Wohl reports. The spot will feature a fresh take on the classic song “People in your Neighborhood” from the children’s show. This also marks Sesame Workshop’s first time in the Big Game.

Pandemic play 

Like DoorDash, which found an opportunity to expand its consumer base amid the pandemic as more people ordered takeout, e-commerce platform Mercari, which lets people buy and sell their goods, will also air its first Super Bowl commercial as Americans look to de-clutter and spruce up their homes during the pandemic. The 15-second commercial, which has already been airing, focuses on the power behind saying “goodbye” to meaningful items and “hello” to new finds. Each spot in the campaign is set to a cover of The Beatles hit, “Hello, Goodbye.”

Huggies will become the first diaper brand to advertise in the Big Game, Ad Age's Jack Neff reports. And in another first, its 30-second commercial will feature babies born on Super Bowl Sunday.

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

Spot drop

Several A-List athletes appear in Michelob Ultra’s Super Bowl commercial, with the brewer highlighting what these all-star athletes like tennis star Serena Williams and former quarterback Peyton Manning do in their down time. The 60-second spot, called “Happy,” is meant to connect the beer with good times, while pushing the notion that experiencing joy off the field, court or course can contribute to success on it, Schultz writes. It continues the low-cal beer’s long-running association with sports. Watch the spot here.

TikTok’s finds a way into the game

TikTok will host a virtual tailgate party starring Miley Cyrus, Ad Age’s Garett Sloane reports. The show will stream from Tampa Bay with portions of the show also going into the pregame coverage airing on CBS. This comes after TikTok’s tumultuous 2020, that included a legal fight with the U.S. government.

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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