It takes a lot to bring longtime enemies together. In the first World War it was the Christmas season (and the inherent miserable futility of war), in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw it was Idris Elba’s cyborg terrorist guy, and this year it’ll be the combined threat of the COVID-ravaged economy and the ridiculously high price of ad time during the Super Bowl. According to Variety, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have decided not to air ads during CBS’ broadcast of the Super Bowl in November, possibly ushering in a new age of unity—at least as far as soda is concerned.
In a statement last week explaining the decision, Coca-Cola said it was a “difficult choice” and that it makes more sense to be “investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times.” Coke spent $10 million on ads during last year’s Big Game and recently announced that it will be laying off 2,200 employees because of various pandemic struggles, so it would probably be pretty bad optics to suddenly throw a bunch of money in the garbage just to remind people that freakin’ Coca-Cola still exists. Pepsi, meanwhile, has also decided not to air ads during the game… except for The Weeknd’s Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show performance, which will surely be covered in Pepsi branding.
But wait, there’s a dark twist to all of this: Not only is Pepsi still putting its name on the halftime show, but it’s also not really going to be stopping ads at all. Variety says there won’t be any ads for Pepsi itself, as in the sugary brown drink, but there will be ads for Mountain Dew and “various snacks from Frito-Lay”—which are owned by parent company PepsiCo. So, really, Coca-Cola is suspending ads and Pepsi is just doing different ads. It remains to be seen how this will impact the general public’s perception of soda, but don’t be surprised if everyone has forgotten that Coke exists once March rolls around.