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What’s New for Super Bowl LVI?

Excitement is quickly building for Super Bowl LVI, which will be played on February 13 at California’s SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. NBC, the network airing this year’s Big Game, had fewer than five available advertising units left in September. Each 30-second spot sold for up to $6.5 million, a jump from the $5.5 million asked by ViacomCBS in 2021. This will mark the culmination of a good year for the National Football League, which enjoyed a 10 percent spike in television and digital ratings compared to last year—making it the most-watched regular NFL season since 2015, according to Nielsen data. Pepsi’s Halftime Show likewise promises to delight eager fans, featuring a lineup of five iconic hip-hop artists including Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. Here’s an update on some of the brands participating in this year’s football festivities—plus a few that have chosen to sit out Super Bowl 56.

Debut Appearances
Electric-vehicle charging company Wallbox is making its TV debut with a splash by airing a 15-second spot during the second quarter of the Big Game. “We are at the Super Bowl because our consumers are at the Super Bowl,” said CMO Bárbara Calixto. “Anyone considering buying an EV in the US is a potential customer for our brand. This is going to be such an important gadget in people’s lives. It’s like having your own gas station in your house.” The group launched in Barcelona in 2015 and can now be found in over 80 markets. While driving brand awareness is the company’s main goal, execs also hope their ad will spark a larger conversation around popular trends and emerging technological developments occurring in the EV space.

Cryptocurrency is likewise playing ball, with cryptocurrency-exchange platform FTX buying airtime at this year’s game. The company, which counts stars like Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen and Stephen Curry among its brand ambassadors, spent $135 million last March to change the name of Miami’s American Airlines Arena to FTX Arena. Perhaps taking a page out of that playbook, Singapore-based platform Crypto.com is debuting its first-ever Super Bowl spot. This also follows a December 2021 move in which the company shelled out $700 million for a 20-year deal that will re-name LA’s Staples Center to Crypto.com Arena.

Returning Favorites
In the realm of sports and money, DraftKings is returning this year, following their initial 2021 Super Bowl foray when the fantasy sports betting platform debuted a pair of 15-second spots. In them, DraftKings’ host Jessie Coffield offered fans the chance to place free, real-time bets on fourth-quarter action. This time around, the company is introducing a new spokescharacter, Goddess of Fortune, along with a $1 million Big Game bet.

Following a five-year hiatus, Taco Bell is coming back to the Big Game with a 30-second spot produced by Deutsch LA. Scheduled to air during the fourth quarter, the ad will feature a “modern expression” of its Live Mas (Live More) motto, according to company reps, in honor of the brand’s 60th anniversary. Taco Bell’s previous Super Bowl spot, “Bigger Than Futbol,” ran during the 2016 game to launch their Quesalupa menu item.

In other food news, Frito-Lay is returning to promote its Lay’s potato chips brand for the first time in 17 years. Though details of the spot itself remain vague, the company is teasing their big moment with a new line of NFL-inspired chips called Golden Grounds. Potatoes used to make these special snacks were grown in soil extracted from NFL stadiums across the country, while each serving comes in keepsake packaging featuring the colors and logos of every football team. Additionally, Megan Thee Stallion will appear in a spot for the brand’s Flamin’ Hot Dorito chips, marking her second Super Bowl appearance following 2020’s debut for Sabra humus. General Motors, Toyota, Pringles, WeatherTech and Nissan are among additional fan-favorites returning with ads this year.

Travel Takes Off
The travel sector is continuing to pick up speed, after a dismal 2020 when travel ad spending fell by over 20 percent. Now, a new survey from Ipsos MORI shows that planned 2022 travel already exceeds all the actual travel that occurred in 2019, as more voyagers book vacations and some business trips make their reappearance. MediaRadar reports that total ad spend by travel companies spiked 38 percent to $2.3 billion from January to October of last year. “I don’t think we need to create demand for travel—everyone is dying to get back to a normal life,” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia. Super Bowl spending is following the same pattern, with travel advertisers comprising four percent of total ads in 2019, three percent in 2020 and zero media presence last year. Yet this year marks a different story.

Expedia will air two Super Bowl spots, including an “experience-focused” ad produced by Anomaly LA that’s slated for the game’s fourth quarter. The other offering is for Vrbo, the company’s vacation rental brand. Created by Wieden + Kennedy, the 60-second commercial will appear during NBC’s pregame show in the US and halftime in Canada. Booking.com, which helps consumers make reservations online, will feature its first-ever 30-second Big Game spot, also in the fourth quarter. “We continue to see Booking.com’s pre-pandemic customers coming back and booking with us, while we’re also attracting new customers,” said CEO Glenn Fogel. “Importantly, we see our top customers from before the pandemic returning to us at a meaningfully higher frequency than other customers.” Conversely, United Airlines and American Airlines have chosen to sideline themselves this year. We’ll keep our eye on ad developments as they arise—especially since NBC decided to hold onto a few ad units until the final game matchup is announced. Stay tuned to ER for your Big Game news!