super bowl LIII
In an NFL year full of protests, pardon requests, and a new anthem policy, Super Bowl advertisers are staying away from politics.
Super Bowl LIII will feature the usual onslaught of multi-million dollar advertisements, but the content hopes to serve as entertainment and distraction rather than a statement on the nation's political climate, reports The Associated Press.
"The big theme is a return to light-hearted humor," University of Virginia professor Kim Whitler told AP. "There's an acknowledgement the Super Bowl is about entertainment."
Budweiser drew ire in 2017 after running an ad deemed overtly political and pro-immigration by some critics. Anheuser-Busch InBev, Budweiser's parent company, bought 5 1/2 minutes of air time for seven of its brands this year, but none of its ads will be political, per Business Insider. "We will only talk about or engage in topics that are authentic to our brands or company," a company spokesman told Business Insider.
The NFL has come under more scrutiny for its politics over the past year. The Philadelphia Eagles, last year's Super Bowl champions, were disinvited by President Trump to the White House due to their players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. The NFL and CBS originally approached Rihanna to headline Super Bowl LIII's halftime show, but she declined in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who initiated protesting during the national anthem.
Rather than come anywhere near these controversies, advertisers are reportedly banking on celebrities like Steve Carell and Jeff Bridges to spice up "product-focused" ads. As brand management expert Kelly O'Keefe told AP, "It will be a lackluster year."