Social & Influencers

Less Damon, more D’Amelio? Super Bowl ads may increasingly lean on influencers

We’re not quite there yet, but marketers see a future where brands opt for creators over traditional celebs in their game-day commercials.
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Francis Scialabba

· 5 min read

In 2020, Charli D’Amelio starred in a Super Bowl commercial for Sabra hummus. This year, e-comm company Rakuten’s spot will star influencers Erin and Sara Foster, creators of clothing brand Favorite Daughter. And outside the small screen, the ad spend on influencer marketing in the US was worth $3.69 billion last year, per eMarketer, which it predicts will near $5 billion by 2023.

Of course, when it comes to famous faces, celebrities still dominate the Super Bowl. But some marketers think influencers could start populating the game’s ads over the next few years.

Matt Zuvella, VP of marketing and ops at influencer agency FamePick, told Marketing Brew that “we’ve finally reached the point” where someone like YouTube star Mr. Beast “can influence as many people as a regular cable TV show.”

Even though some creators have more social media followers than many household-name celebrities, their paths to fame are inherently different. “A celebrity has to have gotten their celebrity from something outside of the social media space,” Danielle Wiley, founder and CEO of influencer marketing agency Sway Group, told us.

They may meet different marketing needs, but as the line between the two blurs, influencer marketing experts see a future where brands—taking into consideration their audience, budgets, and social media strategies—might have more and more influencers hawking products to couch-locked Americans on that fateful Sunday night.


Rebecca Camhi, director of client services at Sway Group, told us that when making choices about using famous talent of any capacity, you have to look at who the demographic you’re targeting is most interested in.

FamePick’s Zuvella agrees. “Influencers aren’t going to attract the older demographics. Our parents aren’t going to know who Charli D’Amelio is. So it just really depends on what product you’re advertising,” he said.

You might think that anyone doing a Super Bowl ad is trying to target the whole of America, but that’s not always the case. Wiley pointed to GoDaddy’s past Super Bowl advertising as an example.

“I don’t think a giant, giant percentage of the population needs website-hosting services. But for whatever reason, that math makes sense to them,” she said, noting that it might make sense to pick an influencer over a celebrity if your brand is going for niche targeting.


Super Bowl ad inventory is expensive enough—some slots are selling for as high as $7 million this year. Marketers looking to cut costs might look to influencers for a cheaper route.

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For the TV ad itself, experts agree that influencers typically cost less than a celeb for a multitude of reasons. “Someone who’s been in multiple TV shows and movies, and has that level of representation, is just always going to cost more,” Wiley said.

However, she’s seen influencer costs inflating lately—especially for creators with followers in the millions—so there could be some sticker shock.

But that’s not to say Wiley thinks an influencer will be more expensive than a mainstream celebrity any time soon. “I don’t know that [the price] will ever, at this point, reach the amount of someone who’s had multiple movies and TV shows, like an Ashton Kutcher.”

It’s also about years of experience. Hollywood and the silver screen have been around a long time, but no social media influencer has been able to hone their craft for 40+ years, and their pricing reflects that, Zuvella said. “Cost-wise, we’ve always seen celebrities run 20%–30% more than influencers, if you try to compare high-end to high-end,” Zuvella said.

For instance, Charli D’Amelio has been a TikTok queen for about three years. You’d have to compare her to Jennifer Lopez or Mila Kunis when they were first starting out, he said, while acknowledging it’s easier to become a star creator within a year or two than it is to become an A-list actor overnight.

Social activations

Ian Borthwick, SeatGeek’s senior director of influencer channels, said if a brand goes with an influencer rather than a celebrity, it’s important to maximize that influencer’s contribution with a social media strategy surrounding the ad.

He told us this could include different types of content, like behind-the-scenes footage of the commercial shoot, so that the ad itself is “not an afterthought” but “hopefully contextualized” among the influencer’s followers beforehand.

Purchasing social media content from a creator could also help marketers determine how much to pay that creator for the Super Bowl ad itself, Borthwick added. “You can go into that equation, saying, ‘I know what two-thirds of the value is. I know what her vlog is worth, I know what the TikTok’s worth. I don’t know what her likeness on a national scale is worth. But I feel confident about 75% of the deal,’” he explained.

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