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January 28, 2021 // Opinion  //       //  Opinion

Super Bowl LV: The more things change…

The 2020 football season was like a broken record, as we old-timers say. The University of Alabama Crimson Tide won the College Football Playoff National Championship (again) and Tom Brady will quarterback a team in the Super Bowl (again). Most fans outside of Alabama, New England and Florida are sick of these results (again). 

Why not just annually hand the Tide the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy and give Brady another Lombardi Trophy, and we’ll all just battle for second place? If it’s going to be a lather-rinse-repeat of Bama and Brady year after year, why even bother to play these games?

I’ll tell you why – the sense of normalcy football brings, win or lose. In 2020, we all needed something to think about other than politics, pandemic and PR. College and professional football gave us that.

When the Southeastern Conference kicked off its season on Sept. 26, 2020, I did something I hadn’t done since the pandemic turned us all into hand-sanitizing hermits. I went to a house party. For eight hours, I drank beer and ate barbecue, wings and burgers. I cut up, talked smack and made predictions about the season. I watched college football with a dozen other people. I didn’t wear a mask. And frankly, my dear, I didn’t give a damn.

It felt glorious. I remember sitting on the back deck in the late afternoon, noticing the clear fall sky and the smell of food. Everyone sported their team colors. I thought: “This feels right – this is what life used to be like and is supposed to be! People used to get together in groups and do this!” 

But that was the last time I did anything like that. Getting together in large groups remains risky. And I suspect there will be far fewer Super Bowl parties this year. That’s a shame, because Super Bowl Sunday is a national holiday, even though the feds refuse to do the right thing and give us all a Super Bowl Monday holiday off to recover from our overindulgences. If I have to watch Brady hug his supermodel wife and perfect kids in a deluge of confetti, it’s the least Congress can do.

Regardless, this first, and hopefully last, pandemic-era Super Bowl will be different. There will be far fewer people in the stadium, the media day will be significantly smaller in scale and the commercials will have a different feel. 

Super Bowl commercial mainstays, like Allison+Partners client Budweiser, will be noticeably missing from the lineup. For the first time in 37 years, the King of Beers, its Clydesdales and its cultural zeitgeist will be absent. There are people who have kids in high school right now who don’t remember a Super Bowl without a Bud commercial. The last time Bud wasn’t part of the Super Bowl ad madness, Ronald Reagan was president and Bud Light was a brand new beverage.

The brewing giant said it will instead support COVID-19 vaccine awareness by shifting the $5.6 million it would have spent on Super Bowl ads to aid the battle against the pandemic. 

Cheers to that, Bud, but we’ll all miss you this Feb. 7 like we miss your frogs and Spuds MacKenzie.

Some people believe they get back what they put out to the universe. Perhaps our collective cries for normalcy over the past year have been answered. Maybe Bama winning it all (again) and Brady hosting a Lombardi over his head with that smug look on his face (again) are just what we need right now. This all feels normal.

Pulling against Bama and Brady certainly does.

Jacques Couret is editorial manager of the Marketing Innovation Team and works out of Allison+Partners’ Atlanta office, where he boasts the company’s best collection of Star Wars desk toys. 

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