Advertising Giants Pull Ads from Super Bowl 2021


Costly Mistake or Brilliant Masterplan?

Submitted by: Natalie Roth-Charron

Advertising kingpins, Coke, Budweiser, and Pepsi have pulled their ads from this years Super Bowl. This decision has many people scratching their heads asking “why?” Onlookers may believe that with a hyper focused audience watching from home (a symptom from coronavirus, of course), one might expect top ratings this year. Could this decision result in a missed opportunity?

Check out the Coke and Doritos ads from Super Bowl 2020.

It is no secret that most businesses have experienced financial difficulties in the past 12 months, and these companies are not exempt from the cruel side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, if one were to follow the advice of Warren Buffet (Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful) continuing investment during arguably the years biggest advertising event would be a no brainer.

Yet, the decision to pull their ads from the event might also be the most brilliant move to get attention on their brands without spending a dime.

Not being present at the Super Bowl effectively pulled more attention to their brands and created quite the buzz. In some cases, competitors seem to be doing the work for them! Sam Adams spoofed the Budweiser Clydesdales in their own Super Bowl ad that they plan to run:

Coke, Budweiser, and Pepsi all agreed that instead of running ads at the Super Bowl this year, they would be spending their money on more pressing matters.

Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) has claimed that they are putting the money they would have used on an ad (around 5 million dollars or more), towards circulating Covid-19 vaccine awareness (

In a year of political, environmental, and civil unrest, another theory could suggest these brands may be shying away from commenting in the wrong way. Coke mentioned the recent social upheavals as an incentive to “ensure we are investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times” (

Pepsi seems to lose less than Coke and Budweiser in this conversation, as they are still sponsoring the half-time show featuring “The Weekend” – which is essentially a 10+ minute ad for the brand anyway.

Despite these huge companies pulling their advertising from the Superbowl, CBS has not struggled to sell spots and their airtime for the big day has been virtually sold out as of Jan 27. These 30 second spots sell for a minimum of $5.5 million dollars.

The absence of these advertising giants has opened room for younger companies, and we can expect to see more e-commerce spots this go around. Brands such as Mercari, Fiverr and Vroom will be some of the newbies to expect.

Come 2022 we are all hoping to live in a world different than what we are living in now. One that welcomes back heading to the pub with friends to watch the game, one where togetherness is key, and a hug from a friend is welcomed. This might be the tone that these brands want to capitalize on instead.

What do you think? Marketing genius or a wasted opportunity?