In what is being marked as a departure from previous Super Bowl advertising, this year's line-up includes several cause-based ads, including Hyundai's promotion of a nonprofit group that battles pediatric cancer and Anheuser-Busch InBev's philanthropic efforts involving water.
The popularity of cause marketing efforts ebbs and flows: consumers can greet them with enthusiasm or cynicism. But, since they can have a big impact on consumer behavior, as well as on charities' reputations, they are of interest to regulators. Thus, advertisers seeking to tout their philanthropic efforts, especially if such efforts are tied to consumer purchase, would be wise to ensure that they comply with applicable state laws and Better Business Bureau guidance governing cause marketing.
The Super Bowl will of course be dominated by the usual assortment of silly ads and movietie-ins, like Lexus' ad that uses the Black Panther to raise interest for its $75,000 sports sedan. But AB InBev and Hyundai's move could foreshadow a pivot to more cause-based ads as marketers attempt to strike an emotional chord without touching hot-button political issues. In the Trump-era, anything even remotely controversial often sets off a social media frenzy that can put brands on the defensive. Who can argue with giving away water or curing cancer?