Where to start? Sifting through (even a small portion of) Super Bowl ads after the big event is always quite the task. There I am each year, pen in hand, watching one commercial after another while trying to map various themes in my notebook. Fast-forward a few hours and I realise that the first ad I watched was my overall favourite. <Sigh>
It won’t surprise you to know that most of the game-day ads were a manic conveyor belt of celebrities. Stands to reason that after a looong while, and a few drinks, viewer vision became blurred and it’s hard to remember who paired up with what.
As usual, there were a number of themes, but nostalgia emerged as dominant. Not surprising seeing as we already know that old is gold when it comes to showcasing products and services. And while a large number of viewers won’t be old enough to remember the original films or references, sometimes the stars and ideas are just big enough to transcend them.
Another thing to bear in mind that it’s US presidential election year which means that the majority of advertisers probably opted to keep things light-hearted ahead of a likely second term for the current president. Remember how seriously political most of the ads in 2017 were? (Fear not, this won’t be that kind of blog.)
Anyway, let’s dive in:
Step back in time
Jeep: Groundhog Day – Created especially for (surprise, surprise) Groundhog Day 02/02/2020. A day that Bill Murray is more than happy to wake up each morning to pootle around in his motor with his furry pal. The tagline ‘No day is the same in a Jeep Gladiator’ does the job very nicely.
Walmart: Famous Visitors – For its first ever ad (during the Super Bowl), Walmart brought in a number of familiar sci-fi faces to show off its convenient kerbside pick-up service. Also serves as a reminder that the third Bill and Ted film will be out this year. (Excellent!)
Cheetos: Can’t touch this – MC Hammer makes a return with his 30-year-old hit to remind us of the consequences of eating dusty Cheetos. In this instance, a bag of new cheesy popcorn renders a man useless to everyone around him.
Mountain Dew Zero Sugar: As Good as The Original – Parodying The Shining feels overdone in marketing but Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston is a nice touch. I’ll allow this one. It’s harmless enough.
Facebook: Ready to Rock? – Facey-B shows off its happy side in what appears to be a trust-building exercise. The ad displays a series of genuine groups (along with a couple of familiar faces) as an homage to the real people who make the platform what it is. All well and good but you can’t help but think that for every happy-go-lucky group shown in this ad, there’ll also be a hate group lurking in the shadows.
Snickers: #SnickersFixTheWorld – Is it trying to be a modern-day Coke ad with this group singalong? Who knows? It’s certainly a long way off from Mr T yelling ‘GET SOME NUTS’ in our faces – but I did enjoy the pair with the selfie stick falling into the huge hole.
Squarespace: Winona in Winona –For some reason, Squarespace sent the actress – who most young’uns will recognise from Stranger Things – to her namesake, Winona in Minnesota to make a website about it. (No, I don’t understand either.)
Tech (or sort of)
Budweiser Canada: Whassup Again – This one actually falls into nostalgia, tech and crossover. Bud Canada resurrected the 1999 ad with a present-day twist. Simply put, it’s an empty home full of smart devices and household items chatting away to each other and it’s great fun. Not only that, the other smart thing about it is that they teamed up with Uber to promote getting home safely after the big game by not drink driving. Win-win.
Amazon: Before Alexa – Good, clean fun. We’re at home with Ellen and Portia who are wondering how the world managed before Alexa came along. Turns out ‘Alexa’ has been around longer than we realised.
Hyundai Sonata: Smaht Pahk – An auto ad really, but one promoting remote smart parking assist – or ‘Smaht Pahk’. Boston celebs, Rachel Dratch, Chris Evans and (man formerly known as ‘future Mr Alkis’) John Krasinski, team up with their best Boston accents to talk about all the places in Boston one could park using this technology. Apparently, it’s hard to park cars in Boston. (Fun fact: ‘Smaht Pahk’ became a thing when one of the creatives said it with her Boston accent during a meeting. So there you go.)
Google: Loretta – Dammit, Google! This is a wonderful piece of storytelling about a Google employee’s grandfather looking for ways to remember the love of his life. Naturally, it made me shed a tear or two. Digital assistants serve a vital purpose for so many people out there. But the ad also reminds me of how much deeply personal information we give to the internet as a price. I guess in cases like these, it just has to be the way.
Rick and Morty x Pringles – Rick quickly realises that his grandson, Morty, is actually a robot and that they’re all trapped in a Pringles ad they can’t escape.
Tide: #LaundryLater – We’re told the best time to do laundry is ‘later’. Cue a number of tie-ins with other brands while Charlie Day tries to work out when later is. Tide and Bud Knight / Tide and Wonder Woman 1984 – Tide and The Masked Singer.
Coca-Cola: Show Up – Having plans but wanting to stay at home instead; it’s happened to all of us. Not even Martin Scorsese is safe from being ‘blown out’ by his mate at the last minute. Luckily for ol’ Mart, a glug of Coca-Cola Energy gives Jonah Hill his second wind and the two (pals in real life) hit the party circuit together. Our lives might not be Hollywood, but the storyboard works for me.
New York Life Insurance Company: Love Takes Action – Beautiful. Not one of the sexiest ads perhaps, but it’s simple, relatable, and stands out amongst all the junk food on the Super Bowl advertising conveyor belt. I’ll file it under ‘lasting impression’.
*Read our previous Super Bowl blogs: