Super Bowl advertising campaigns are infamous for celebrity partnerships from JLO and Beyonce for Pepsi in the early 2000s to last year’s Cheetos X Megan Thee Stallion campaign. The red carpet has widened this year to include more content creators.

To name just a few: Doritos has teamed up with TikTok star Tay Bloomer (vibin.wit.tay) for a dance-off. The NFL has asked Emmanuel Duverneau (known as the dancing chef on TikTok) to cook players’ favourite meals. And State Farm has skipped a Super Bowl commercial altogether in favour of a campaign featuring TikToker Khaby Lame alongside brand spokesman Jake. 

These and other influencer activations are evidence of the creator economy going mainstream and changing how marketers approach the Big Game. More brands are evolving their strategies to stretch beyond a star-studded TV ad and incorporate the creator universe. As this trend continues, industry leaders say it is only a matter of time before influencers and creators take the lead role in Super Bowl campaigns. 

“We’re seeing creators become more central to advertising in general,” said Harry Hugo, co-founder of the agency Goat to AdWeek. “We’re probably 12 to 24 months away from the biggest TikTokers being the face of Super Bowl ads.” 

The reasons for this are multiple from the growth of social commerce power to brands desires to tap more into Gen Z consumption behaviours. Another reason worth considering is that, according to influencer marketing platform Captiv8, Super Bowl influencer marketing spend increased by five times from 2021. The same report forecast that the value of the influencer marketing industry will grow by 29% this year to an estimated $21.1 billion.

This isn’t to say that celebrity brand partnerships are decreasing in importance, only that the budget and content pool is widening. A-list celebrities still dominate the Super Bowl ad game, with many marketers betting on such household names to attract attention. Market research firm System1 found that nearly 65% of Super Bowl commercials from the past three years featured a celebrity appearance or voiceover.

At the end of the day,  it’s a question of impact: when advertisers are spending around $7 million on a 30-second spot in the game, that level of investment has to pay off beyond a fleeting moment. That’s where more brands are recognizing the value in creators, said Jas Dhami, vice president of sports and streaming at We Are Social U.S. 

The increase of content creator partnerships also marks a cultural shift. In 2003, there was no alternative to JLO and Beyonce doing backflips for Pepsi because influencer culture simply didn’t exist or at least not on the scale it does today. Even if creators have so far played a secondary role to traditional celebrities in Super Bowl campaigns, they are starting to influence the kind of advertising that is produced. 

As evidence of this, take Pringles’ latest Super Bowl commercial, which is about the relatable and sometimes embarrassing moment when a snacker gets their hand stuck down the chip brand’s cylindrical tin. Meghan Trainor is the star, but not in her usual guise beneath bright stage lights: she too is lounging on the couch with her hand trapped in a Pringles can. To take the joke further, Pringles teamed Trainor with dance creators @brookieandjessie to host a TikTok dance challenge based on the notorious container. This movement towards more relatable and self-deprecating Super Bowl ads reflects a wider cultural shift.

It also shows how the definition of celebrity–and the kind of talent that brands are starting to recruit–is widening. “Social is the new celebrity,” said Rahul Titus, global head of influence at Ogilvy. “There’s a generational shift in how people view influencers.”

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