Coca Cola and Ford won't run Super Bowl ads as big brands fear offending viewers amid tense political climate

A growing number of companies are opting out of buying Super Bowl ad time, with some making the move for the first time in over a decade


                            Coca Cola and Ford won't run Super Bowl ads as big brands fear offending viewers amid tense political climate
Kansas City Chiefs players celebrate after defeating San Francisco 49ers by 31 - 20 in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020, in Miami, Florida (Getty Images)

Several big-ticket advertisers are skipping the Super Bowl this year, including Coke and Hyundai, as they fear being unable to strike the right tone amid the nation's volatile political landscape. A growing number of companies are opting out of buying Super Bowl ad time with some making the move for the first time in over a decade. According to the New York Post, insiders believe the primary reason for this is that decision-makers are finally realizing they could potentially infuriate any number of people with political jeremiads. Advertisers, in recent years, have not taken issue with Black Lives Matter and Antifa ideologies or hesitated to push transgenderism and the #MeToo movement. This year, however, they do not seem so thrilled.

A woman walks past an advertisement referencing Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be played in East Rutherford, NJ on two weekends, on January 24, 2014, in Times Square in New York City. (Getty Images)

“Every client conversation I’ve had these days is about who is going to be offended by this ad,” Rob Schwartz, chief executive officer of ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, told the Post. “There’s a lot of discussion about risk mitigation. What that tends to do is that it makes things very bland and not effective, or it forces you to look at universal topics like hope or humor."

Bill Oberlander, co-founder and executive creative of ad agency Oberlander, noted how the "country is so divided and split right down the middle that I don’t think that there’s a commercial that will appease both sides." As a result, the Super Bowl will not sell out of ad spots this year, according to The Post, which noted how some of the companies backing out have been buying spots for over a decade. The report stated that giants including Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Olay, Avocados From Mexico, Little Caesars, and Ford Motors were out this year. Many of these firms have bought a Super Bowl ad every year since 2010.

That said, there still some prominent names buying ad time. M&M’s, TurboTax, Anheuser-Busch, Toyota, Pringles, and Mountain Dew have purchased a $5.5 million spot each. However, the price tag is down from last year's $5.6 million.

This undated handout image, showing (L-R) singers Donny and Marie Osmond with rock star Ozzy Osbourne, is from one of several new commercials by the Pepsi Company that aired on January 26, 2003, during Super Bowl XXXVII. (Getty Images)

According to Breitbart News, corporations are looking to avoid social and political backlashes. In 2019, Gillette Razors lost $8 billion in write-downs after their ads pushed transgenderism and raised the alarm on toxic masculinity. In 2015, Jeep was mocked on social media after showcasing images of foreign landmarks in an ad playing the traditional American song, "This Land Is Your Land."

Woke ads were targeted by the left as well. In 2017, Pepsi sparked outrage with its Black Lives Matter-themed ad that featured Kendall Jenner being nice to a police officer. And in 2019, the left was unhappy that Super Bowl spots aired by T-Mobile were allegedly pushing “sexist stereotypes.” 

"Ultimately, playing it safe seems to be the byword for 2021," Breitbart News' Warner Todd Huston wrote.

According to the New York Post, experts analyzing the plans that company insiders are revealing for their Super Bowl ads suggest that most of them are playing it safe and taking a step back from extreme left-wing ideologies. Considering, this year's ads will mostly feature heartwarmers and light humor instead of politically-charged plots.

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