Many if not all of our traditions have been interrupted in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic affected the shape of many of our professional sports, even ones like the NFL that largely chose to ignore it. So it only makes sense that the Super Bowl at the end of this season won't look the same as it has in years past. According to reports from sports business publication Front Office Sports, the much-watched commercials that run alongside the Super Bowl will be heavy on theme of social justice, unity, and persevering through a crisis. 

“It’s going to be ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it’s going to be COVID. It’s going to be [about] coming together,” ad agency exec Bill Oberlander told the publication. “I can’t imagine that advertisers are not going to use this as an opportunity to speak up on behalf of their brands — or on behalf of the social impact that’s going on all around."

According to market research carried out by Oberlander's firm, nearly 80 percent of consumers want brands to respond to the crises of coronavirus and police violence gripping the United States. The feeling among executives like Oberlander is that brands will fear coming off as tone-deaf if they bring the typical flashy and silly fare to a Super Bowl on the heels of an incredibly grim year. 

PR firm president Mike Paul noted that the two biggest issues on most Americans minds are the coronavirus and racism, and it's led to a fear among ad agencies of appearing out-of-touch. 

“It’s not about diversity, equality and inclusion issues,” Paul said. “This isn’t about a new civil rights movement only. It’s about racism at its core. And that scares Madison Avenue.”