Game was a blowout; commercials were about average
Given the times we’re in with political division, unemployment, and a never-ending pandemic riddled with deaths, I thought about sitting out this year’s Super Bowl commercial recap.
But pop culture never stops – even during a pandemic. And so here we are – and this year we have a song about oat milk, Bruce Springsteen trying to unite a divided nation, and Tracy Morgan in someone’s house taking a bath. Most of the ads avoided the fact we’re still in a pandemic, masks absent in most spots. Maybe they didn’t want to remind us of the times we’re in, and that’s okay because we’ve have enough of those heart-tugging and emotional ads last spring when the pandemic first arrived.
So for the fifteenth edition of this Super Bowl Commercial review – where marketers paid $5.5 million per thirty second spot, we have a top ten list for both Best and Worst categories. As a reminder, network promos and movie/streaming trailers do not count. Some of the videos on this page could soon become unavailable, so you may see those annoying gray boxes if you come across this article in the future. In the next post, we’ll talk about the ratings and the game itself.
We start off with a disclaimer – had Geico run their Scoop There It Is ad with Tag Team during the Super Bowl (it ran before and after the game), it would have won this category hands down.
1. Rocket Mortgage. Certain Is Better (w/Dave Bautista)
2. Rocket Mortgage, Certain Is Better (w/Joey Bosa)
Both of these were ranked #1 and #2 respectively in USA Today’s Ad Meter thanks to a get-out-the-vote campaign and fortunately for Rocket Mortgage, the ads were funny and very good. I’m pretty sure of it. Oh those poor suckers… er, I mean customers…
3. M&Ms, Come Together. Been a tough year for anyone named Karen or a M&M character (which is basically every year, trying to avoid getting eaten and the like.) Dan Levy is your Special Guest Star.
4. Cheetos, It Wasn’t Me. Real-life couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis appear in a commercial with Shaggy (the singer, not the cartoon character) singing his hit “It Wasn’t Me” to solve the mystery of who ate the Cheetos. And may have been Shaggy. And he would’ve gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling kids.
5. GM, No Way Norway. Only Will Ferrell could wind up in Sweden thinking it was Norway. You’ve been warned!
6. Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer, All-Star Cast. The best part of this ad was Don Cheadle trying to evict Don Cheadle from his boat.
7. Tide, The Jason Alexander Hoodie. Well played, using the same song Alexander’s Seinfeld character mocked on a message answering machine (though some on Twitter didn’t get the comparison.) Then again, you wonder why a kid has a Jason Alexander hoodie to begin with.
8. Scott’s Miracle-Gro, Keep Growing. This ad was terrific and funny with Martha Stewart and John Travolta dancing (and he still has it!)
9. Bud Light, Bud Light Legends. This was like an Bud-Light commercial All-Star game from past commercials including The Cutout Guy and Cedric.
10. Jimmy John’s, Meet The King. The Champaign, Ill.-based chain has Brad Garrett as a “sandwich king” trying to torch ol’ Jimmy. Does the King usually take the Subway? Ok, I’ll stop now.
Note: Click on links to see videos.
1. Paramount Plus: Sweet Victory; Ice Bridge Crack; Roll Call; Frostbite Hooked It That’s right… a first-ever four-way tie for the worst ad…and it’s for the same inferior product! And the best part about ViacomCBS’ new streaming service ads is they were schooled on their own network by rival Disney, showing how you really market not just one streaming service but three of them. Meanwhile, the look on the CBS stars’ faces showed them wishing their network and Viacom stayed separate companies.
2. Jeep: The Middle. Talk about misreading the mood of the nation, Bruce.
3. Uber Eats, Wayne’s World & Cardi B’s Shameless Manipulation. With the abundance of cord-cutting, who in their right mind is still doing public-access shows in 2020? Plus, Uber Eats is putting small eatery businesses…out of business.
4. Fiverr, Opportunity Knocks. This commercial fails on all levels with its political bent, given there are those who don’t want to be reminded of anything about the last President. And by the way, Four Seasons is the name of a well-respected heating and A/C company in the Chicago area – I’m certain they can’t be happy with this.
5. Oatly, Wow Wow No cow. Holy cow, this is one commercial Haray Caray would even throw back. Of note this ranked dead last in USA Today’s Ad Meter Poll.
6. Chitpole, Can A Burrito Change The World? On the surface, this commercial can serve as a pilot for a new TV show with another know-it-all brat, similar in vain to Young Sheldon and The Goldbergs and we don’t need any more of that. And no, it won’t.
7. E*Trade, Workout. See #6.
8. Inspiration4: Join The First All-Civilian Space Mission. Remember the Simpsons episode where Homer went to outer space? Now Elon Musk wants to do this for real, with less amusing results.
9. Robinhood, We Are All Investors. And since we are now all investors, we took GameStop stock and nearly crashed the stock market. Talk about a poorly-timed ad.
10. Vroom, Dealership Pain. Does it seem odd the first 18 seconds of this ad described the last four years of the previous Presidential administration we were under?
Also of note, the NFL’s “Inspire Change” commercials regarding social justice seemed hollow given the league continues to blackball Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.
This year’s presentation featured pop and R&B artist The Weeknd as he performed a medley of his hits, including 2015’s Cant Feel My Face with a variety of weird camera angles and socially distant dancers marching with drolls on their heads. This was boring more than anything else. Too bad Shakira and Jennifer Lopez couldn’t come back for an encore this year.
The reaction on social media was split, as expected given most people over a certain age hated it or didn’t understand what was going on, while his fans and younger people loved it. Of course, the arrogance of The Weeknd’s fan base showed as one tweeter noted “Slander toward The Weeknd will not be allowed”. Of course, social media is basically 100 percent slander.
NPR’s Eric Deggans has his annual review and you can read it here.
Ad Age also has reviews of the ads, and you can read them here.
The aforementioned Super Bowl Ad Meter from USA Today ranks all 57 commercials here.
As mentioned before, this is the fifteenth straight year T Dog Media has reviewed Super Bowl Ads. For past reviews dating all the way back to 2007, click here. Keep in mind older videos posted in those reviews may no longer be available.