It's no secret that the Super Bowl is one of television's biggest events every year. According to Nielsen, nearly 111.3 million people tuned in to watch the Patriots, the Falcons, and the ads for Super Bowl LI. I'm one of the millions that's more keen to the ads and Twitter conversation than the actual game (I blame Nebraska's lack of a pro team). Specifically, it's the music choices that compel me, which leads me to ask..
What happened to the music this year?
Music is often used as a crutch to provide a funny juxtaposition, or to add inspiration or nostalgia to a Super Bowl ad spot. Great. But why are brands not taking the same musical risk that they used to? I distinctly remember when fun.'s "We Are Young" was placed in this Chevy Sonic ad in 2012.
Regardless how you feel about the band, the Chevy ad was daring and a minute-long music video for fun., premiering to millions of people at once. Sure, the song had already proven it's sync-ability on Glee, but the Super Bowl catapulted "We Are Young" into mainstream consciousness and topped the Billboard 100 chart for six weeks straight. The song worked because it was uplifting and rebellious, yet not polarizing. I will never forget this music video, er, ad.
Forbes contributors have published two solid articles on The 10 Music-Based 2017 Super Bowl Commercials and Sound Marketing, categorizing this year's songs into Throwback Jams, Today's Hits, and Timeless Orchestras. I would go one step further and add "Patriotic Sleepy Ballads" and "Uplifting Forgettable Tunes" to the mix. Given our current political climate, this is an obvious time for advertisers to tell a story of rebellion and inclusiveness simultaneously. What better way to do that than by making music a part of your statement.
Ad spend is at an all-time high...
...at $5 million per 30-second national spot. That doesn't include the cost of production and digital marketing, which can cost an additional $500,000-$2,000,000. If just 1% of that production budget was put towards licensing indie music, advertisers could break a new band and benefit from the number one social currency: music. Not to mention the artist walks away with a 5-figure paycheck, priceless exposure, and royalties from re-runs down the road.
People will forget about your Imagine Dragons (yawn) or Vampire Weekend (we already know) placements, because those aren't cool anymore. If you want my Twitter mention - or better yet - my money, find the next fun. Here, I've found them for you: Jagaja.
All things considered
I did enjoy some of the placements on Sunday. Nina Simone, NSYNC, and Lil Yachty in particular really added to the spots. Here's a playlist I put together of all the music I tracked from Super Bowl LI. Listen for yourself!