It's certainly no small feat to create a Super Bowl (or "Big Game" depending on your proximity to lawyers) spot. We know. Done it before. You've got to communicate product benefits, be memorable, stay in budget, find the right talent, and stand out from the others. But this year's spots offered up a new wrinkle. Do it all while dealing with production during COVID.
Yeah, no pressure.
With that said, here's our review of this year's 2021 Super Bowl spots. There are some real gems among this class' pack. There's humor, pulling-of-the-heart-strings, celebs, and a lot of money poured in. But if there's one theme that seems to be common throughout, it's nostalgia.
Here they are. The 2021 Super Bowl commercials, and our take on them.
No Way Norway - General Motors
Will Ferrell grabs Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina to go battle Norway about EV cars. It's pretty much impossible to miss the fun mark when you've got this cast. Of course, if you miss the first 5 seconds of this spot, consider yourself lost. Comedy wins. 8/10.
Last Year's Lemons - Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade
This spot was one of the few, if not the only one to address the mess that was 2020 head on. By doing so, brings up the question as to why no one is wearing masks. Oh well! Kudos for not relying on a celeb, and allowing the product benefit be front and center. 6/10.
Wayne's World & Cardi B's Shameless Manipulation - Uber Eats
Nostalgia is a constant theme throughout this year's spots. This Uber Eats entry, is no exception. Smart, funny, relevant and memorable. This one will resonate well with the Gen Xers who remember Wanye's World, and a step above Mark Hamill, Patrick Stewart previous work. Okurrr! 9/10.
The Rising - Indeed
Indeed certainly had their work cut out for them. Do a job placement spot during the most festive, happy time of the year. Gulp.
Well, good news. They managed to create a heart-felt, relevant-for-times spot that really strikes a nice balance of being poignant while still being able to get a very practical message out there. It's not often you see a hopeful and uplifting Super Bowl spot, but if any year needs one, it's this one. Bravo. 9/10.
Can a Burrito Change the World? - Chipotle
Chipotle has done one of the best spots ever when it comes to sustainable farming. Their 2012 Back to the Start spot was a hopeful anthem that showed how good a piece of environmental communication can be. This year's spot unfortunately pales in comparison. It certainly gets across the key message, but on a Super Bowl stage, it will most-certainly feel generic. 5/10.
Keep Growing - Scotts Miracle-Gro
Scotts Miracle-Gro got ambitious by producing a promotion during the Super Bowl. Generally, you want to keep your message as simple as possible for the beer-soaked masses watching the Big Game. Perhaps they're banking on the "watch it later online" crowd. This ad's effectiveness will likely be hampered by too much to take in, and too many lower tiered celebs to keep people guessing who's who. 4/10.
5 to 9 by Dolly Parton - Squarespace
Did we mention nostalgia? Here we are again. This one is a nice approach aimed at millennials breaking free and doing their own thing. Empowering, fun and it doesn't necessarily rely on viewers being familiar with Dolly. Although we were really hoping she was going to make an in-person cameo behind that magazine. 7/10.
We are all Investors - Robinhood
Excellent insight. We are all investors. You don't need to become an investor, you were born one. But considering Robin Hood had one of the most historic moments this year with GameStop and AMC, you'd think they'd tap into that, but then again, many investors are likely mad at the investment app because of the restrictions they put on after the fiasco. 6/10.
Bud Light Lemonade - Bud Light
Nostalgia has entered the chat. Again.
This is a really fun spot, for a really specific segment of viewers. So many nods in this spot. First of all you have all of the historic Bud Light spots from yesteryear, "Yes I am dude", "Bud Bowl Bottles", "Real Men of Genius singer", to name a few. And it's all wrapped in an homage to Marvel Avenger's Endgame. This was a brave approach, that will resonate well with their audience. 8/10.
"Twas the Night Before Super Bowl" - Frito-Lay
Ever since the NFL's 100 season campaign, marketers have realized the characters of the game are ripe with rich personalities and fun. This spot is good, but is derivative of those past spots done well by the NFL. But we have a captive audience of football watchers, it's no doubt this will provide a chuckle here and there. Just not as original. 7/10.
Alexa's Body - Amazon
Amazon has done it again. Past year's Amazon spots have seen Alexa lose her voice, Alexa fails, and of course, #BeforeAlexa. This year's doesn't disappoint, and is a worthy spot in the pantheon of Amazon spots. A smart way to use celebrity talent. 10/10.
The Jason Alexander Hoodie - Tide
Just the term, Jason Alexander hoodie is funny enough. The joke plays out well enough. The end button with Jason isn't needed, but we assume this will be part of a larger campaign. 6/10.
Toyota Jessica Long's Story | Upstream
Toyota is a sponsor of Paralympic team, and this year's spot is done superbly. Great use of audio, special effects to tell a very real and very poignant story. Bravo. 9/10.
Jeep | The Middle
Whoa. Hauntingly poetic, beautifully written, gorgeous cinematography. All wrapped in a cultural narrative that we all share. Woven perfectly in the DNA of this American vehicle, Jeep manages to strike the right balance with a deep American message while conveying the brand soul of the vehicle. Sure, it will get some riled up about bringing politics into this arena, but this piece of bravery deserves all the accolades coming its way. 9/10.
Meet the King :60 | Jimmy John's
Give the client all the high-fives on this one. "Hey, we're going to feature a fictitious competitor for your 5 million dollar Super Bowl spot". Bravery. And it paid off. Brilliantly speaks to the quality of their product by highlighting a disgruntled Tony Bolognavich, aka “The King of Cold Cuts". Bonus points by pronouncing it "Jimmies Johns". 9/10.
Bravo. Brilliant. Contextually relevant, smart, witty and breaking the mold. Kudos. 10/10.
Check back as we continually update this list.