The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday that several major advertisers, including FedEx, have decided not to advertise during the Feb. 1 game, which an estimated 100 million people will be watching.
Meanwhile, General Motors Corp., an advertiser for the past 16 years, will only buy ad time before and after NBC's Super Bowl broadcast, said spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato.
She said the decision not to have an ad during the game this year was "largely driven by the fact that we did not have a major vehicle launch that aligns with the timing of this event."
The Chronicle reported that 30-second ad slots are going for a reported $3 million, up from $2.7 million a year ago when the game was carried on Fox.
"I suspect we will see some new approaches this year," said Timothy Calkins, professor of marketing at Northwestern University.
"Overall, I think there will be a more quiet, serious tone. This makes sense. The best marketing efforts connect with people on a deep, emotional level, and right now many people are worried about their jobs
and the economy."