Miami made $18 million from Super Bowl ads last year. Tampa has made zero.

The pandemic seems to have curbed the film bump enjoyed by host cities.
Blue skies and favorable weather greets the thousands of fans attending the festivities at Curtis Hixon Park during the NFL's Super Bowl 55 Experience on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021 in Tampa.
Blue skies and favorable weather greets the thousands of fans attending the festivities at Curtis Hixon Park during the NFL's Super Bowl 55 Experience on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Feb. 2, 2021|Updated Feb. 4, 2021

TAMPA — Clydesdales won’t befriend dalmatians during this year’s Super Bowl, nor will polar bears chug soda.

Budweiser and Coca-Cola are among the brands that, for a mix of COVID-19 related reasons, will not advertise during the television broadcast of the big game played in Tampa on Sunday.

This is a double whammy for the Tampa Bay area.

Like the rest of the world, Tampa Bay will miss out on some of the enjoyment brought by commercials filmed specifically for the Super Bowl, but area residents also missed out on being a part of the productions and their economic windfall.

Super Bowl Sunday usually includes commercials that feature the game’s host area as a backdrop.

Film commission offices on both sides of the bridge are unaware of any that will do so this year.

“Conservatively, we lost between $5 million and $8 million in commercial productions,” Hillsborough County film commissioner Tyler Martinolich said.

Tony Armer, the St. Petersburg-Clearwater film commissioner, said he could not estimate what Pinellas County lost.

Neither commission had statistics on the economic impact past commercials had on the area when Tampa hosted the Super Bowl.

Related: Remembering Tampa’s experience hosting Super Bowls over the years

The Miami film commission said Super Bowl commercials infused $18 million into their economy prior to the game held there last year. Those included a Target commercial that spent $550,000, a Volkswagen commercial that spent $200,000 and a Hard Rock Casino commercial that spent $250,000.

Still, Martinolich remained upbeat despite the financial loss. After all, he said, the Super Bowl “can serve as a four-hour highly produced commercial for the area” due to the B-roll of local backdrops showcased during breaks from the game.

Steve Hayes, president of Pinellas County’s tourism department, Visit St. Pete Clearwater, took Martinolich’s claim a step further.

“It is more like a weeklong commercial,” Hayes said, because national television media flashes such B-roll in their coverage of the upcoming game.

The film commission offices provided the Tampa Bay Times with production permits issued to those filming B-roll to be used leading up to and during the game.

Hillsborough scenery includes Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, the Florida Aquarium, the Florida State Fairgrounds, Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa Riverwalk and the Gasparilla pirate ship.

Featured Pinellas locales include John’s Pass, Spa Beach, Fort De Soto Park, Pier 60, Pass-a-Grille and Demens Landing Park.

John Lux, the executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Film Florida, was unaware of any study that reports the economic impact the Super Bowl broadcast has on a host area’s tourism industry. But he said travel decisions are influenced by what people watch.

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“A 2013 Visit Florida survey showed 22.7 percent of domestic tourists in Florida said something they saw on film or television contributed to their decision to visit our state,” Lux said. “A study from the Association of Film Commissioners International showed 20 percent of worldwide tourists are influenced by film or television when choosing their destination.”

Martinolich remains hopeful that the Super Bowl will still stimulate the local production economy.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were featured in a Tostitos commercial that promoted opening week of this season. Their footage was shot in the Tampa Convention Center and during the three days of production approximately $200,000 was spent locally, mostly on the location, 35 resident hires and 60 hotel room nights, Martinolich said.

Should the home team win on Sunday, Martinolich said, there is “a genuine chance Bucs players who have or will have significant personal endorsements following this season may end up shooting those commercials in the bay area following the Super Bowl. Go Bucs.”