The Bucs might be holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy. But for any of the brands showcased on Super Bowl Sunday, a win is people talking about it around the water cooler.
Sorry, my bad.
A win for a brand is people talking about it on Zoom.
Super Bowl Sunday is the one day of the year everybody wanted to do what we ad people do every day — focus on commercials. And no doubt you all have opinions about what was good, what was bad, what was ugly.
And guess what? You’re not wrong. Yes, I’m going to give you my opinion on why I think certain things worked and certain things didn’t, but bottom line? This is an opinion-based business.
Without question, you’re going to disagree with me. Probably a lot. And that’s OK. What’s important is that we come together and find somewhere in the middle to…sorry. I was having a Springsteen moment.
Without further ado, here’s my take on the commercials of Super Bowl LV. All of them. Also, would anyone know what a Roman numeral is without the Super Bowl?
The “Will You Accept This Rose?” Category
Great acting and casting—love the husband and wife. And whatshisface is pretty good, too. Hilarious scenarios. A Super Bowl home run. Pretty sure I just mixed sports metaphors.
Fabulous execution. On Super Bowl Sunday, Toyota didn’t try to sell anyone a car and instead told a powerful family story in a wonderful way. Having the water carry through every scene was an absolutely brilliant idea.
For the first time ever, Bruce Springsteen has done a commercial. And it’s great. Shot in the dead center of the good old USA, he talks about this country coming together and finding common ground. What a concept. It ends with a super: To the Reunited States of America. It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is, because it’s pretty clear what this is all about.
The teasers were not very good, but the final spot is very funny. Will Ferrell and GM are fighting back against Norway’s commitment to electric vehicles. Sometimes Will Ferrell can be a big miss, but he’s dead on here. Great stuff. Simple message. Thumbs up emoji. 👍
Brad Garrett channels his inner Godfather as the Sandwich King tries to take on Jimmy John’s. Or as he calls it, “Some two-first-name sandwich joint.” Some very subtle funny moments that make this pretty humorous. And I’m only saying that so I don’t get my knuckles broken.
Call me crazy, but I loved this. So ridiculously weird and simple and memorable. It put a smile on my face and makes me want to know more about their brand. While everyone went big, they went bigly small. Whether you loved it or hated it, I can guarantee it’s one of the spots you’re talking about. And isn’t that the goal?
Timothee Chalamet plays Edward Scissorhand’s son Edgar facing all the same challenges of his dad. Fortunately, there’ll soon be a self-driving vehicle to help him get on the road. Some very funny bits. Let’s just hope he doesn’t ever have to change a flat.
The “I Think I Like You” Category
Fun, upbeat and entertaining. A nice tie-in with the world’s most charming street and Doordash. Daveed Diggs from Hamilton and Big Bird? Who didn’t see that happening?
I’m not a fan of the animated chocolate discs, so I was happy to see them mostly stepping away from that execution. There’s not a whole lot of explaining you need to do with M & M’s—you just need to amuse me. They did.
So, this should be in the top-tier, but let me tell you why it’s not. The minute-long version which ran during the game has a voiceover which hits you over the head on the strength and importance of relationships. So, after you watch the :60, I would encourage you to watch the :90 online version which has NO voiceover and a few extra scenes. It tells the exact same story yet is so much more powerful and impactful. Then go back and watch the :60 again and ask yourself: does it really need a voiceover? (Let me answer my own question: no.)
The “Can we just be friends?” Category
Nicely written. But on a day that’s all about, “Hey everybody, look at me!” it’s somewhat forgettable.
Honestly, this is normally something I would not be a fan of—over the top, very theatrical. But in the spirit of the moment, it’s pretty good. The idea of Squarespace supporting your side hustle and flipping the Dolly song from 9 to 5 to 5 to 9 is nicely done. See how open-minded I can be?
Klarna’s advertising is, um, odd to say the least. So, four mini Maya Rudolph’s is not surprising. I’m guessing the majority of people will go, “What the heck was that?” And then Google “Klarna”. So, I guess that’s a win for Klarna!
Dr. Squatch has made a name for their men’s skin care products with a bunch of odd YouTube videos. Obviously, they’ve done well enough to spend $5.6 million on a Super Bowl spot. So, while it’s fun and entertaining, it also reminds me of what Dollar Shave Club used to do about a decade ago: a campy over-the-top guy talking to camera doing nutty things and tossing things about. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong.
How many celebs can you cram into multiple spots? A lot. As Paramount Studios launches their streaming platform, they jammed as many as they could into five commercials to showcase all the different types of programming they’ll have to offer. Like I need another app? Wait, is that Snooki? I’m in!
I appreciate the idea of finding quirky tax breaks in different parts of country—that’s a smart advertising idea. But the execution is just OK. I’m not a fan of the desks rolling through. Yes, I get they’re trying to show how easy it is to do it online, but it’s awkward and a bit of a boring visual. That’s my two cents. Just curious: can I count that as a tax deduction?
A reasonably entertaining spot that plays off of the mess of 2020.
The good news? It’s an absolutely lovely, charming commercial about sustainability and Chipotle’s commitment to doing things right. The bad news? They’re trying to showcase their important and relevant story on a day where people are looking for the next shiny celebrity. Nice spot, but probably the wrong location.
Targeting the gaming community, an animated Samuel L. Jackson tells all the characters it’s time to step up to 5G. Well executed. I’m not the audience, but I appreciated the spot. Sidebar: I’ve played Ms. Pacman before. Did she ever get married?
To me the fun of this is the randomness of a kid wearing a hoodie with Jason Alexander’s face. Totally absurd, which is what makes it memorable. Sidebar, Part 2: I watched an episode of Seinfeld the other day: doesn’t hold up at all. Sad.
The “It’s not me, it’s you” Category
Footage of all types of people overlayed with a “fill in the blank” super about who indeed.com can help. Absolutely nothing wrong with it, but it feels like a “been there, done that” kind of commercial. Having said that, I think people will react positively to it because of the emotion of the song, “Rise Up”. Behold the emotional power of music.
So, this is a place you go to sell your old stuff and soon, it will be someone else’s old stuff to sell. Genius!
To those of you hoping to see Nick Jonas in ad promoting an app-based glucose monitoring system, rest easy, your prayers have been answered. Not great, but I appreciate the effort. Also, today is not the day to tell me I should watch my sugar. Pass the M&M’s!
A fun campaign continues with the added bonus of Paul Rudd and Drake. Having said that, nothing groundbreaking for the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. Hmmmm, do you think State Farm was pulling for the Packers in the NFC Championship game?
It’s kind of an old ad trick to take a straightforward saying like “Pretty sure” and exaggerate it in ridiculous ways to make your point—“pretty sure this is a parachute,” etc. I’m not pretty sure these are just OK. I’m certain.
In the past, their spots have been very product/technology focused. This year, they have two commercials, focusing on their people and their commitment to Made in the USA manufacturing. They’re…fine. So, I don’t know what I don’t know, and there are clearly reasons why they chose this shift in strategy. But from the outside looking in, strictly from an advertising perspective, on the biggest advertising day of the year, they feel a bit like they belong in a corporate video more than in the Super Bowl.
Given the fact that they’re in a ton of trouble, given everything that’s happened over the last couple of weeks, was Sunday really a good time to do a generic reputation spot? Two suggestions: 1. Either you find a way to sell off your airtime, or 2. You say the heck with it and you run some footage of NYSE guys crying and end with a super: You 1, Them 0. Just a thought.
This reminds me of one of my favorite commercials when I first got into the business a hundred years ago. Different, but not.
In the Pringles commercial, two astronauts land back on earth and no one’s around. And then when they see a boat, naturally everyone on board is distracted by some Pringles. Because who isn’t distracted by Pringles?
Now here’s the late 80s seemingly post-apocalyptic commercial for Arby’s I was referring to. Again, different, but still the same. Everybody has been distracted by food. It even starts with the exact same words: “Where is everybody?”
Am I wrong?
The idea of welcoming babies born yesterday is a fun one. But the execution itself is somewhat generic. It’s neither warm nor especially funny. It’s just lost in the middle. C’mon, baby. Pick a side and run with it. I mean, crawl.
In my opinion, a not-so-funny commercial featuring characters from old Bud Light spots. Eh.
The spot features Serena, Peyton Manning, The Brow and others with announcer who ultimately asks, “Ask yourself: are you happy because you win, or do you win because you’re happy?” Michael Jordan, John McEnroe, Jack Lambert and about a skillion other angry winners respectfully disagree. Not buying it.
Plot twist: other than Don Cheadle: not so much on the all-star front. I appreciate the effort, but on the second shot, it doesn’t take a genius to say, “Wait, whoa: that’s not Sylvester Stallone.”
Lots of visuals of talented people doing remarkable and creative things. Lil Nas X is featured and does the VO. But (here I go again), turn down the VO and watch the visuals and it could be a commercial for a school that specializes in getting people ready for the entertainment industry. Then turn up the sound, listen to it again and tell me it’s not a reboot of 1997 Apple’s “Here’s to the Crazy Ones.” Just with way cooler music.
The owner of Shift 4 Payments (a payment processing company), Jared Isaacmen, has partnered with Elon Musk’s Space X to send a 4-person capsule into space. He’s committed $100 million to St. Jude’s and wants to raise $200 million. He’s already selected another person, a cancer survivor and healthcare worker.
So, you have two ways to win one of those two other seats to space by visiting their site.
Great commercial? Hardly. But a great cause and great PR stunt? For sure. Who wants to go to space?
The “Wrong number. Who is this?” Category
I feel like Cheetos has played the orange finger joke thing ad nauseum. Emphasis on ad. The Shaggy song is super fun, but Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are completely unnecessary—just celebrities for the sake of having celebrities in your commercial. I could actually argue it would be more fun if they had used two random people and Shaggy.
This spot that features underdog athletes while the voiceover talks about how they believed in their dreams. About halfway through, the script makes a sharp left turn and says, “For those who believe in their dream of owning a new home….” Wait, what? Where is that connection? Did I miss something? Does that mean I now figure skate AND get a new house? Sweet!
The first one to accurately tweet the correct number of bottles of Mountain Dew Major Melon won a million dollars. I didn’t try. Which is why I’m still typing.
This is a completely gratuitous use of random celebrities. Help me understand why these people were chosen. It’s not particularly funny. It’s not particularly anything. Martha’s right though: Vinnie Barbarino can still shake it. Also, the opening line: “Ah the backyard: it’s had quite a year.” Seriously, what does that even mean?
This is literally the exact same commercial as Guaranteed Rates. People who worked hard to get things, Like Lil Baby. With Guaranteed Rates, you can get a house. Here, you can get a healthy dose of caffeine.
Fiverr is a freelance service provider and they randomly decided to tell the story of their service by playing off of one of the most embarrassing moments of last year: when Rudy Giuliani thought he was holding a presser at the Four Seasons Hotel and instead found himself at a garden center. Why? No clue. It’s a long way to go for a joke.
The “Blocked” Category
I’m fairly certain this was Matthew McConaughey’s actual size in Dallas Buyer’s Club. The effect isn’t great. It’s not cool. It’s. Just. Creepy. And the payoff is a weak pun.
Not alright. Not alright. Not alright.
Given everything we’ve all been through, is it really a good idea to do a spot featuring a torture chamber on Super Bowl Sunday? I think tone deaf would be appropriate here. If the goal is to make me feel good about your brand, my takeaway is more about associating you with the negativity of car buying vs the positivity of your process. Is “Epic Fail” still a thing?
Tony and his wife are pimping the maximum comfort of Skechers with over-exaggerated examples of other “max” things in their lives—a giant sandwich, a giant truck, a giant bed. A giant waste of $5.6 million.
Cheesy. Contrived. Forced. Standby…checking thesaurus.com. Meretricious. Good one! This is neither cute nor clever. It feels like someone pulled this from the The Love Boat archives. I’m delighted they’re happy together. I’m sad we all had to watch this.
I loved Wayne’s World. This? Painful. Adding Cardi B. didn’t help. The shtick feels old and tired, and the guys look terrible. Having said that, Google “Wayne World Says Thanks” where you’ll find a 2 ½ hour YouTube video scrolling through every restaurant across the country that supports Uber Eats. It’s worth checking out for no other reason than to scrub through to see what’s happening in the background.
Amy. How? Why? What? We need to talk.
All in all, a fairly typical Super Bowl. Some gems. A lot of average. Some really bad. Every year, I think everyone thinks every commercial is going to be gold, and it never happens. But next year? Next year is going to be different.
So, what did you think?