Will Super Bowl commercials be the same this year or like so many other things, will there be a different feel?By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As you settle in for a Sunday of snacks, commercials, and football there are a host of advertisers putting a small fortune on the line to convince you to buy their product.

Even reading these words, “Hey kid, (tosses the shirt)…gee thanks Mean Joe!” Puts a smile on our faces which is exactly what Coke intended so long ago.

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After all the commercial’s tagline was: “Have A Coke and a Smile.”

That commercial like so many others, like the Clydesdales, have tugged at our hearts, while other spots leave us laughing.

Shannon Baker of Gatesman Advertising says it’s hard to say which will resonate best this year.

“I think you have to talk about the context of the year that we’re living in,” she said. “It’s still such a very surreal moment. And you know there’s so many jitters going into the Super Bowl for businesses brands marketing executives, because the biggest challenge is, tone, you know will humor resonate in this year will consumers expect thoughtful ads acknowledging the difficulties of the year that was in the year, you know that we’re still in.”

One add plays off the lemon of a year 2020 was by a humorous barrage of lemons showering people with disastrous results.

“I do think that’s going to connect with a lot of people I think it is going to make them smile,” she said. “Well, a couple people or will a handful of people think it’s inappropriate probably.”

Baker says funny is not necessarily a keystone to success.

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“You have to be able to say, ‘Did it work right that’s proving the success? Did it drive that brand awareness? Did it establish that deeper loyalty or stronger affinity with customers? And is it ultimately driving that behavior change right for a business owner for our brand?’ That’s the number one criteria,” Baker explained.

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The owners of Budweiser who have become a Super Bowl standard – what will those Clydesdales do next? – say it’s not going to appear during the game.

“I personally think that’s a little bit misleading,” Baker said. “So Budweiser has said, we’re out this year, but the parent company, Anheuser Busch, they’re still very very present. Anheuser Busch has four minutes of ads in the Super Bowl.”

Joining those willing to dole out $5.5 million dollars for a 30-second spot this year are Chipolte, DoorDash, and Huggies.

“I think what we will see this year, and what I hope that we will see this year is this theme of almost escapism,” Baker said.

Baker is looking for optimism in commercials like the Michelob Light spot with the tagline “So ask yourself are you happy because you win or do you win because you’re happy.”

“I think that message of just finding the joy and the moments and the little moments finding the laughter finding the peace finding the humanity,” she said. “That’s what we all need that’s what we’re craving right now.”

She says outlandish commercials have a short shelf life.

“To me those that are way out there, those are the duds you know you get people talking about them the next day but that’s where it stops,” she said. “When you have something that is totally out there if at the end of the day, it doesn’t tie back to the purpose of the product. It leaves most people just totally forgetting about it, and that investment is totally wasteful.”

Some advertisers who have done well during the pandemic like Miracle-Gro are spinning off the success and Baker says to keep an eye out for their ad that features Martha Stewart, John Travolta, and more.

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The game may not start until 6:30 on Sunday but the creative commercials will be sprinkled throughout the day starting with CBS coverage on KDKA at noon.