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Pandemic Sends NFL Scrambling to Keep Super Bowl Engaging

The rapid spreading of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has taken a toll on the before game activities of the Super Bowl as well as Super Bowl ads.

The Super Bowl is the biggest game, and arguably one of the biggest events in the United States. In past seasons, millions of fans flocked to the Superbowl, to not only watch but participate in activities before the game. This season, however, the ongoing pandemic has made the Super Bowl unsafe for fans.

Despite the NFL allowing fans to attend the Super Bowl, many of the before game activities. Much of them geared towards families, were moved to a virtual setting.

”Due to the pandemic this year we definitely had to pivot our thinking behind community events, which are usually a great way to engage with the NFL in a Super Bowl city,” says Melissa Schiller, the league’s director of community relations. ”We had to transition them to virtual events and also make sure those that are taking place (in the Tampa area) are COVID-19 compliant.”

One of these events is the NFL PLAY 60 Kids Day of Youth Health and Wellness, which averages about 2,000 kids per Super Bowl.

However, one silver lining to moving to a virtual setting is that more than 100,000 have signed up for the event. About 50 times more than previous seasons.

A Different Super Bowl

Even if fans opt-out to watch the game from home, they can expect this season’s Super Bowl to be different. One of the most notable is the absence of big-name commercials, a staple of the event.

Last Monday, January 25, Budweiser broke from tradition and announced that they will not air their commercials during the Superbowl. Instead, opting to use the money they saved for the slot to donate to the Ad Council, a nonprofit organization that produces, distributes and promotes public service announcements on behalf of various sponsors, including the United States federal government.

The Ad Council has focused this year on creating public announcements for social distancing and vaccine consideration.

This is the first time in 37 years that Budweiser will not run an ad during the Super Bowl.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola, have also relinquished their advertising spots. Pepsi decided to focus on the Superbowl halftime show, while Coca-Cola chose to “invest in the right resources during these unprecedented times,” in an article by Variety.

The Superbowl airs on February 7 at 6:30 eastern time in Tampa Flordia.

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