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STAMFORD Conn., January 11, 2023

A Shift in Tone: Gartner Expectations for Super Bowl Advertising in 2023

Q&A with Andrew Frank

Super Bowl advertising always provides an early indication for trends that marketers can expect to see throughout the coming year in terms of creativity and grandiose ideas. 

This year, the field seems particularly wide open to draw inspiration from, with major foundational advertisers, such as Anheuser Busch ending its exclusivity deal and Apple Music entering the fray as the new halftime sponsor. 

To sort through the changes, we sat down with Andrew Frank, Distinguished VP Analyst in the Gartner Marketing Practice, to discuss some of the trends advertisers can pull from the leadup to the Super Bowl and the broader implications behind them.

Journalists who would like to speak with Andrew regarding this topic can contact Katie.Costello@Gartner.com. Members of the media can reference this material in articles with proper attribution to Gartner.

Q: Given the macroeconomic pressures we are currently seeing, how will Super Bowl ad spend be affected?

A: Super Bowl advertising is fairly resistant to economic conditions, as this specific ad space holds its value in good times and bad. It was noted that Fox raised prices for a 30-second spot slightly, but so far there is not much pull-back in major sporting event sponsorships, and it looks like the Super Bowl will deliver its usual array of big campaigns. 

We could see the number of advertisers rise as brands try to economize by getting more mileage out of fewer spots (for example, AB Inbev’s relinquish of category exclusivity could be seen in this light). But the overall enthusiasm of marketers for the big game shows few signs of abating.  

Gartner research shows that with economic uncertainties continuing into 2023, marketers will get back to basics with their top priorities being customer acquisition and retention, as well as brand relevance. These factors could be reflected in Super Bowl advertising via greater focus on clear value statements, less on feel-good abstractions.  

Q: Last year there was a very heavy push from crypto-focus companies in advertising around the Super Bowl. Will we see a similar push this year? What other categories will spend big this year for visibility and why?

A: Despite the focus on crypto during the 2022 Super Bowl, in addition to the recent and negative headlines surrounding it, it is unlikely we’ll see a significant presence from crypto within this year’s advertisements: Not only did it peeve viewers’ nerves according to a Gartner survey of nearly 300 consumers following the 2022 game, but disruptor industries where technologies such as crypto, Web3 and metaverse fall, don’t neatly tie back to the aforementioned consumer value proposition.

The average consumer isn’t ready for the onslaught of messages on emerging technologies like metaverse or crypto. For example, think back to when smart speakers with voice assistants were first announced. So marketing teams at these companies will need to continue to tread lightly in explaining their relevance to the majority of consumers. They should reconsider leveraging the Super Bowl’s high-attention opportunity every year, especially given recent challenges and cost-cutting efforts in the space.  

The usual players in categories such as food, beverage and CPG will take up a large amount of advertising real estate given their affinity and proximity to game-day viewers. We also expect to see a surge in media and entertainment streaming advertisements along with those that offer digital services for consumers, such as sports betting platforms, as competition heats up in both areas and brands seek relevance through “leisure dollars.”  

Apple Music replacing Pepsi as sponsor of the halftime show is a clear signal that the tech giant sees streaming advertising as a key area of investment, which is reflective of the larger tech landscape also turning its focus to this segment (e.g., Microsoft partnering with Netflix on its ad-tier roll out). Our recent Predicts research anticipates that 70% of brands will redeploy at least 10% of their media budget to product placement in entertainment content, such as streaming, by 2024.

Q: What message should marketers take this year given the shift in consumer sentiment to brands, depictions of wealth and personal finance ?

A: While inflation may not impact overall Super Bowl ad spend in a meaningful way, it is influencing customer behaviors. My colleague Ewan McIntyre points out in recent research that inflation is driving cost-cutting behaviors, with 30% of consumers buying more store brands. With established brands attempting to maintain brand preference, premiums and loyalty, getting in front of, and proving brand value to, as many consumers as possible in one spot will be key.

With this in mind, there will be pressure on advertisers to return to concrete, broad-appeal values. We will likely see most brands deem that a "politics pause" is in order and avoid controversial imagery and messaging. An exception may be LGBTQ+ affirmation, which is likely to continue as a rising trend among brands.

Nineties nostalgia and light humor will most likely set the default tone, although a few outliers will pursue a deeper spiritual line. At the same time, look for retail brands to acknowledge shopper concerns of rising inflation and a looming recession with more concrete promises of discounts and savings to reinforce their value proposition.  

If you are a member of the media who would like to speak further on these topics with Andrew, please contact Katie.Costello@Gartner.com. Members of the media can reference this material in their articles with proper attribution to Gartner.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit gartner.com.

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