Pepsi and Coca-Cola have decided to break tradition and not run TV ads during the Super Bowl next month amid the economic downturn spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Variety first reported Pepsi’s decision last week, with Coca-Cola following on Friday with an announcement that it would not air ads in CBS’s broadcast of Super Bowl LV. 

In a statement shared with The Hill, Coca-Cola said it made the “difficult choice” to “ensure we are investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times.”

“We’ll be toasting to our fellow brands with an ice-cold Coke from the sidelines,” the company said. 

Meanwhile, Pepsi, one of the largest and most reliable sponsors of the football event, opted to not run ads during the game in order to “double down on our existing 12 minutes in the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show in the middle of the Super Bowl,” according to a statement shared with The Hill from Pepsi’s vice president of marketing, Todd Kaplan. 

“Coming off of a year that was mostly void of live music, we are reimagining the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show to ensure fans can experience The Weeknd’s performance in new ways that have never been done before, with tons of exclusive access and content leading up to the show,” Kaplan said


Canadian singer The Weeknd is set to headline the Pepsi-sponsored show, with the music star participating in a Pepsi ad campaign ahead of the Feb. 7 game, the first time a Super Bowl halftime headliner has done so, according to Variety. 

Coca-Cola in 2020 spent about $10 million on commercials in Fox’s broadcast of Super Bowl LIV, according to ad-spending tracker Kantar. 

The decision by Coca-Cola comes after the Atlanta-based company announced in December that it would be cutting nearly 2,200 jobs worldwide, with 1,200 in the U.S., due to declining sales amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Coca-Cola had been preparing for cutbacks since the summer, when it offered buyouts to nearly 4,000 employees in Canada and the U.S. Earlier in the year, the brand also announced that it would be discontinuing Tab, Odwalla and Zico, CNN reported at the time. 

Variety reported Friday that CBS has yet to announce a sell-out of its game commercial inventory, with the network seeking around $5.5 million for advertising packages. 

Last year’s football game generated about $435 million in ad spending, a new record, according to Kantar.

—Updated at 6:10 p.m.

Tags ad spending American football Atlanta Coca-Cola coronavirus economy coronavirus pandemic Pepsi Super Bowl Super Bowl halftime Variety

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