Coca-Cola Will Return to Super Bowl as Advertiser (EXCLUSIVE)

After sitting on the sidelines for a year, Coca-Cola is getting back into the Super Bowl ad game.

The beverage giant has purchased a 60-second commercial slated to run in Fox’s broadcast of Super Bowl LIV on February 2 in 2020, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta company said Tuesday. The creative execution and concept for the ad, she said, have yet to be determined.

Coca-Cola retreated from the field of play in 2019. opting to run a single, animated commercial just before kickoff CBS’ broadcast of the event, putting an end to 11 consecutive years of Super Bowl appearances. The company’s return to the main show provides further evidence of the newfound attraction Madison Avenue has to the glitzy gridiron classic, which in recent years has been less of a must-buy. Fox has been seeking anywhere from “north of $5 million” to $5.6 million for a 30-second ad berth, Seth Winter, Fox’s executive vice president of sports sales, told Variety. Meanwhile, the network wants $2 million to $3 million for the priciest slots in pre-game and post-game inventory.

Coca-Cola could have saved millions by following its most recent Super Bowl strategy. But in doing so, it risked having its commercial fade from consumers’ memories as they encountered dozens of big-budget commercials from other big-spending marketers.

Fox said Nov. 25 that it had sold out all of its commercial inventory in the game, the first time in five years the network broadcasting the Super Bowl hasn’t had to work until the days before kickoff to rid itself of all its high-priced ad slots. Executives have cited the pace of the economy as one factor in a rush by advertisers to get in early on the game, along with a decision by the National Football League and Fox to cut one ad break from each quarter – a move that cuts back on first and last slots in a rotation, positions often deemed as some of the most valuable and most recalled by viewers.

Coca-Cola has for several years used the Super Bowl to celebrate diversity, part of a cadre of blue-chip marketers that in recent years have used the game to appeal to America’s broadening demographic. During NBC’s 2018 broadcast of Super Bowl LII, Coke ran a spot featuring people from different races, nationalities and geographic regions. In one scene, a person in a wheelchair and a helmet takes part in a daredevil athletic competition. A poem read during the commercial played up the fact that anyone might enjoy a Coca-Cola: “We all have different looks and loves / likes and dislikes, too. / But there’s a Coke for we and us / and there’s a Coke for you.” In 2014, Coca-Cola got attention for running a Super Bowl commercial with children singing “America the Beautiful” in many languages. The spot included people from various walks of life. Some wore cowboy hats. Some wore hijabs. The commercial is believed to be the first Super Bowl ad to show same-sex parents.

In a different era, a Coca-Cola opted for heartwarming humor. One ad featuring former Pittsburgh Steeler defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene throwing a jersey to a young football fan became a classic thanks in part to its appearance during Super Bowl XIV in 1980 (even though the commercial had aired previously on TV). In 2012, Coca-Cola asked Super Bowl viewers to check in on the digital antics of its famous animated polar bears, who reacted in real time to Super Bowl plays and commercials.

Coca-Cola is expected to join an advertising roster that will likely include spots from auto manufacturers, entertainment companies, technology marketers, financial-services advertisers, makers of consumer products and other beverage companies. Anheusuer-Busch InBev and PepsiCo, Coca-Cola’s primary rival, will also have a role to play in the commercial breaks from the game.

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