Every year the Super Bowl showcases what should be the best creative work. This work should serve as a call to action for advertisers to reach higher standards every time they make an ad. There were some this year deserving of an A, but there were also some stinkers who get Fs.
Bud Light Lemonade, “Last Year’s Lemons”
The destruction wrought by lemons falling from the sky is an innovative and genuinely funny way to acknowledge the pandemic and the hell-year that was 2020. The song and the visuals add up to a gentle optimism we need.
Mountain Dew, “Count the Bottles”
Pink, pink, pink. I could picture thousands of devotees freeze-framing the ad and trying to count all the bottles, burning the Mountain Dew logo onto their very soul as they do.
Anheuser-Busch, “Let’s Grab a Beer”
This ad highlights one of the many things we miss because of COVID-19 - casual relationships. Things like getting a beer with work friends at the end of the day. Bonding with a stranger on the same delayed flight as you. No one expects a beer commercial evoke genuine emotion, but this one aims for the heart and says “we need each other.”
Huggies, “Welcome, Baby”
Huggies put together a nice spot celebrating babies everywhere and featuring real game day newborns in the ad. They leveraged user-generated content captured by families and shared virtually with the brand’s production team to send the message “at least you’ve got Huggies to take care of you, baby.”
Toyota wanted to share and uplifting message of hope and strength. Jessica Long is a 13-time gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer. She's held multiple world records, and is one of the most successful Paralympians of all time. Her story is inspiring, but it's about more than just her. It's also about her parents deciding to adopt her from a Siberian orphanage, knowing that she would need major surgery and live her life with a disability. The story ends with the line, “We believe there is hope and strength in all of us.”
Tide, “Jason Alexander Hoodie”
The decision to soundtrack this ad with “Greatest American Hero,” aka the famous George Costanza answering machine song, takes a funny concept and elevates it to sublime. Who would think laundry detergent could be entertaining subject matter? Tide hit a home run with this one.
Amazon Studios, “Coming to America 2”
Eddie Murphy has a career of high peaks, deep valleys and long, blasted deserts, but he seems back in his element here. And this film’s bench is so deep that Wesley Snipes, Tracy Morgan and Leslie Jones are in second-line roles. Could be brilliant, could be a mess, but this trailer does exactly what it’s supposed to: get us to watch.
Amazon Echo, “Alexa’s Body”
Another entertaining spot. Michael B. Jordan is perfect as Alexa personified, and the jealous husband is hilarious. As one pundit said, “This ad brings attention to an important issue facing our society: the serious lack of commercials that feature a shirtless Michael B. Jordan. Thank you, Amazon, for bravely taking the first step to fix this enormous problem.”
Grade: A for the Message and Grade: F on the Outcome
Jeep, “The Middle”
Getting political is a death sentence for ads, since no matter what stance you take, half the country (give or take a few million) will oppose it. This ad by Jeep, starring none other than the Boss himself, steps right on top of that line. Bruce Springsteen, who’s never done an ad before, positions himself — literally and metaphorically — in the very middle of the United States and asks us to join him there. (Maybe you could take a Jeep to get there, the company would like that.) “Fear has never been the best of who we are,” Springsteen intones, “and as for freedom, it’s not the property of the fortunate few, it belongs to us all.” It’s a powerful and needed message, but it went away really fast when Jeep pulled the ad after TMZ broke the news a few days after the big game that Springsteen was charged with a DUI in November. Is Jeep furious?
Shift4Shop, “Join the World’s First All-Civilian Mission to Space”
Do you want to go to space? This company you may not have heard of wants to take you there. Does this company focus on sending civilians to space? Do they sell toy spaceships? Or astronaut ice cream? Or mattresses, or coats, or lamps, or sunglasses or whatever? If this commercial is the first time you've ever heard of Shift4Shop, you have no idea, because they don't tell you what they do. Also, can we hit pause on putting songs covered by throaty-voiced women in commercials?
UberEats, “Wayne’s World & Cardi B’s Shameless Manipulation”
This ad was intended to encourage viewers to “party on” and support local restaurants. That was never clear. I couldn’t tell if it was for Wayne's World, Wayne and Garth, baby versions of Wayne and Garth? "Eat Local" isn't the company name, even though it's repeated multiple times in the ad. It's UberEats, only no one in the ad says "UberEats." When the UberEats logo finally pops up on screen in the last four seconds of the ad, it's smaller than everything else. People, you’ve got to tell us what the commercial is for
Klarna, “The Four Quarter-Sized Cowboys”
Maya Rudolph is a treasure, but this ad is beyond bad. So bad that it's the only thing you notice. The team that thought four versions of Maya Rudolph looking like awkward magazine cutouts beamed in from the early 1980s promotes the company’s “Pay in 4” offering are the ones who should be beamed someplace.
Mercari, “Goodbye, Hello”
Looks like Mercari ran out of money after paying for ad time. They used a boring commercial that's been running for months which feels like a waste of their first-ever Super Bowl spot. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
The Biggest Fail
Oatly, “Wow, No Cow”
CEO ego at play? Who thinks it’s a good idea to spend $5.5 million on a Super Bowl ad to sing badly (or more like bellow) in a field.
Let the community know what your favorite was and why…