Brothers Peyton, left, and Eli Manning have faced each other in Super Bowls before, but you won’t see them on the field today, only in a Frito-Lay commercial.
Courtesy photo

Worldwide, more than 130 million people are expected to tune into Super Bowl LV this afternoon, in which a 30-second commercial costs national advertisers $5.5 million.

Some of the audience, estimated to be 56 percent male, will tune in mainly to see those spots. Advertisers know commercials that run during the big game get big play for big money, and hope their commercials win over the viewers.

The Observer turned to Albuquerque advertising guru Del Esparza, who founded his full-service marketing firm (Esparza) in 2000, for his insight on “the big game.”

“I’ve been to a Super Bowl before — I’ll never go again,” Esparza said.

That was five years ago, when he ventured to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., and saw his favorite team, the Denver Broncos, defeat the Carolina Panthers, 24-10.

“It was nice to say I’ve been; I enjoy the game more watching at home,” he said.

And that’s where the bulk of today’s audience will watch from. (No, not Esparza’s home.)

In a pandemic, not only will large gatherings typical of Super Bowl Sunday not be prevalent, but the advertising aspect of the game is also changing.

Before Super Bowl LIV in 2019, the $5.6 million ad slots had been entirely sold out by Thanksgiving. For Super Bowl LV, it wasn’t until Jan. 26 that the ad spots sold out.

Not only that, some of the “regulars” — Coca-Cola, Ford, Little Caesar’s and Budweiser, to name a few — will not have any commercials airing during the game.

Why not?

Thanks to the pandemic, Esparza said, “People feel this isn’t the right climate, and that’s interesting because there’s a lot of new players: Chipotle Mexican Grill, pushing the freshness of its burritos; e-commerce company Mercari, which sells a lot of products online; Hellman’s mayonnaise will be new; Vroom, which sells cars online.”

During the pandemic, Esparza said, “People have a tremendous amount of comfort level, sitting behind a screen and purchasing groceries, cars, and they know that buying it online doesn’t mean you have to keep it — you have a seven-day window to return the car if it’s not what you want.

“Buying online used to scare a lot of people,” he said, recalling a time when the website provider GoDaddy intrigued people, and “did it in a provocative manner. Now, it’s the industry leader; prior to their Super Bowl commercial, nobody even knew who they were.

“Another new advertiser this year, and thank the pandemic, is DoorDash — spending over $10 million,” he said.

He added that the food-delivery company has increased its revenue by 225 percent.

Super Bowl watchers will also see “digital commerce — home builders, home improvement and home remodeling companies,” he said. “Home Depot and Lowe’s have more than doubled their business, because people are staying home, and instead of going on vacation and traveling, they’re putting in a pool or remodeling.”

From what Esparza has learned, “In the last 30 years, the Super Bowl will have 70 companies that will advertise and it will be a waste of money — 13 will come out of it and revolutionize their industries or companies.”

This pandemic, he said, has left a lot of would-be advertisers leery.

“It is a bit risky,” he said. “So be creative in your message.”

More people will be watching this year’s big game, he predicted, estimating that after 45 million households tuned in for Super Bowl LIV, 65 million are expected to be watching today.

Times have changed on Super Bowl Sunday

“In 1967, advertisers spent $40,000 for a commercial — now, $5.5 million,” he said. “It’s been quite a 55-year span.”

And here’s a spoiler alert: “Wayne’s World” returns with its same zany humor from Saturday Night Live, circa 1992, in an Uber Eats commercial.