Synchs generate between $100,000 and $1 million, according to publishing sources, plus the same amount for record labels if the songs are original master recordings.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on this year’s Super Bowl synchs. Most noticeably, the biggest brands sat out the biggest game: Coca-Cola, which announced layoffs in December due to lower stadium and movie-theatre sales, said it would instead invest “in the right resources during these unprecedented times.”
That gave opportunity for newer brands, such as take-out specialists DoorDash and Grubhub.
“We’ve seen businesses that have thrived during lockdown pick up spots during the game,” says Keith D’Arcy, Warner Chappell Music’s senior vp of sync and creative services. One of those was Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” performed by 19-year-old TikTok discovery Christian Shelton, for a hopeful Indeed spot about job-seeking.
Thematically, some advertisers responded to the pandemic by emphasizing “social justice, inclusivity and human connection,” D’Arcy says, such as the Bruce Springsteen spoken-word spot for Jeep (the Boss wrote an original score for that one). Others employed “not very specific cultural nostalgia,” as D’Arcy calls it, such as DoorDash’s commercial starring Big Bird and other beloved Sesame Street characters and UberEats’ Wayne’s World spot in which Wayne, Garth and Cardi B. encourage viewers to eat local. (Wilder Zoby, a Kobalt songwriter who collaborates with Run the Jewels, wrote the spoofy “On the Corner” for the spot.)
Some publishers reported the pandemic cut into their business for Super Bowl LV.
“It’s a lighter Super Bowl year for us in terms of the number of pure placements,” says Charlie Davis, vp of creative synch, advertising, for BMG, which dropped from five in 2020 to three this year. “A lot of brands want to put that money towards charitable causes and not do the big, flashy Super Bowl spot.
“In years past, we’ve done really well with big automotive copyrights,” he adds. “Definitely a lower count on the automotive side for the Super Bowl.”
Advertisers, agencies, music supervisors and publishers responded with more creativity. “2020 was pretty brutal,” says Julie Hurwitz, Kobalt’s co-head of synch and brand partnerships. “A team of creatives’ ability to come up with a message that is accessible, humorous and poignant, without banging you over the head and being tacky, is very difficult in 30 seconds.”
Agencies fell back on funny spots — which required funny songs — to pull off the trick. Doritos went back and forth over music for its Matthew McConaughey spot, at one point considering a somber track before landing on Queen’s 1984 hit “I Want to Break Free.” “I went from having Doritos to losing Doritos to having Doritos again,” says Brian Monaco, president and global chief marketing officer for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. “Brands were conflicted on how they were going to message. I think humor won out.”
The Cheetos spot, in which Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis sing parody snippets of Shaggy’s 2000 hit “It Wasn’t Me,” was not only humorous, it spread the wealth among publishers since 14 writers are listed on the track. The sample is “Smile Happy,” by ’70s funk band War, whose catalog Primary Wave represents.
“That’s one of the things that has been exciting for us as a company — getting a lot of the classic recordings covered and reinterpreted,” says Marty Silverstone, head of sync and senior VP creative for the independent publisher, which also placed an instrumental version of Ray Charles’ classic “What’d I Say” at the end of the T-Mobile spot co-starring Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine.
Perhaps this year’s most memorable spot was Dolly Parton’s first-ever Super Bowl synch (or so Danny Nozell, her manager of more than 16 years, recalls): a modified version of her 1980 classic “9 to 5,” reimagined as an anthem for workers launching all-night pandemic side hustles. The “5 to 9” spot earned criticism for changing the song’s meaning from a working woman’s empowerment anthem to an ode to working all night due to pandemic-era layoff fears and lower wages.
“It’s not so much that we’re encouraging working from 5 to 9, it’s just there are a lot of people doing that, and we want to support them,” Nozell says.
Plus, slyly, the ad contains a side hustle of Parton’s own — a back-of-a-magazine reference to the country star’s new fragrance, which sold 10,000 bottles in its first hour last week, even before the big game.
“The exposure in the Super Bowl is unbelievable,” Nozell says.
Source: News | Billboard