- The commercials during Sunday’s Super Bowl LV featured companies from Ford to Uber Eats to Robinhood.
- Some of the most talked-about ads included a 5-second Reddit spot and a bizarre song from Oatly.
- We rounded up the best — and worst — Super Bowl ads this year.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
The Super Bowl looked different this year. Some big brands like Budweiser sat it out, and the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers played to a spaced-out stadium filled with cardboard-cutouts in between real people.
But even a pandemic didn’t stop the Super Bowl commercials.
From the hits to the misses, here’s your breakdown of the best and worst of 2021’s Super Bowl ad offerings.
Cadillac – ScissorHands Free
Cadillac commissioned Winona Ryder to reprise her role as Edward Scissorhands’ girlfriend Kim Boggs, and slotted in Timothée Chalamet to play her son Edgar in a commercial for the brand’s self-driving cars. Judging by the Timothée cult of personality, this one made quite the splash.
Ford – Finish Strong
Super Bowl ads had the difficult job this year of figuring out how to address the pandemic. This Ford ad chose to face it head-on and focus on Ford’s PPE donation efforts.
Fiverr – Opportunity Knocks
Fiverr, a platform that connects freelancers to gigs, poked fun at one of 2020’s most bizarre political moments by setting its commercial at Philadelphia’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping, the accidental location of a Trump campaign post-election press conference.
Read more: 3 Tampa businesses helping to pull off a safe and successful Super Bowl — and profiting off the event
Squarespace – “5 to 9” by Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton rewrote her iconic song for a commercial with Squarespace that sings the praises of the after-work hustle. Though the ad extols the gig economy and could suggest a possible future where we’ll never stop working, it’s still Dolly, so it’s still delightful.
Cheetos – It Wasn’t Me
Celebrity couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are joined by Shaggy in this ad, which features a replay of his classic “It Wasn’t Me” themed around Kunis stealing Kutcher’s Cheetos. Look, it’s catchy. And data from Unruly shows a 67% purchase intent by consumers after watching.
Michelob Ultra – Happy
This ad spot features various athletes having a good time and an actually-kind-of-uplifting voiceover.
Toyota – Jessica Long’s Story | Upstream
The car company’s spotlight on Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long was one of the most overtly emotional of the evening, and people responded. According to data from Unruly, the ad had an emotional intensity score of 63%.
Oatly – Wow No Cow
This ad was perhaps the strangest of the night, featuring nothing but the oat milk company’s CEO singing and playing an electric keyboard in the middle of a field, but it was also certainly one of the most memorable.
State Farm – Drake from State Farm
Jake from State Farm and Drake from State Farm! Get it? It rhymes. Despite the obvious pun, Drake’s cameo was still a fun twist. And engagement increased 631% after the ad aired, Talkwalker reported.
This five-second, blink-and-you’ll-miss it slide from Reddit shouts out the day-traders on WallStreetBets who made market waves with GameStop and other stocks. CNN reported that the ad aired in 9 of the 10 top metro markets in America, comprising most major cities.
Doritos 3D – Flat Matthew
A 2D Matthew McConaghey trudges around town until he finds 3D Doritos to bring him back to life. The animation of “Flat Matthew” looks like something akin to body horror.
Robinhood – We are all investors
Robinhood’s Super Bowl ad focuses on the brand’s stated mission of making investing easier for everyday people, but the messaging felt a tad misplaced after Robinhood’s tumultuous January.
Oikos – #PROFACE
Oikos Greek Yogurt’s ad featured close-ups of athletes’ faces as they strained to lift heavy weights and touted the brand’s high protein content, but the fairly obvious pun seemed to have little to do with the brand itself.
Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade – Last Year’s Lemons
2020 sucked! Get it? This dramatization of the “lemon” of a year winked at the pandemic but came across as a bit less self-aware than other commercials that addressed the seriousness of COVID-19.
Hellman’s – Fairy Godmayo
The mayo brand’s ad was fine, but not a particularly memorable, use of Amy Schumer.
Mercari – Get Your Unused Things Back in the Game
Mercari, an online marketplace where you can buy and sell pretty much anything, aired a very literal ad featuring a popcorn machine being sold and reused. It wasn’t anything bad, just meh.
Sketchers – To the Max
This ad features Candice and Tony Romo eating giant sandwiches and sleeping on a stack of mattresses a la Princess and the Pea in order to communicate that, yes, Sketchers are really that soft. It’s not the most engaging of this year’s lineup.
This reprisal of “Wayne’s World” features Cardi B, always delightful, but the branding of “Eat Local” at a time when many local restaurants are struggling in part due to Uber Eats commission fees struck consumers as somewhat cynical. Data from Talkwalker shows a 65% negative sentiment towards the food delivery arm of Uber.
NFL – As One
The NFL’s ad attempts to resurrect Vince Lombardi and to deliver a bunch of inspiring speeches, but in the wake of complaints over how the NFL treats Black athletes, it rang somewhat hollow.
Hulu / Disney+ / ESPN+ – Get Your Stream on With The Disney Bundle
This relatively straightforward ad splicing up shows on Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ was just fine, but for a Super Bowl, why not add a bit more panache?
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