Super Bowl LV was a real snoozer. America’s most frustratingly handsome man, Tom Brady, snagged himself yet another Super Bowl ring. The game itself was a foregone conclusion by the end of the first quarter, which left me looking at my phone more often than the TV. The only times I did wrestle my gaze from Twitter? You guessed it. Super Bowl commercial breaks.
This year, it seemed like nearly every single brand had one singular strategy in mind: How many celebrities can we cram into these things to get people to pay attention? From cheap nostalgia plays to making us wonder how much money Timothee Chalamet got paid to put scissors on his hands, Hollywood’s A (as well as a few B and C) listers were out in force. Yet, with that commonality running throughout the evening, which ads managed to make a lasting impression, and which ones did I have to Google to even remember that they existed?
The Best Super Bowl Commercials
A clever concept, funny hook, or bold move makes a Super Bowl commercial genuinely memorable. These ads either had one or all three of the necessary ingredients to ensure that I remembered them beyond the final score.
GM came out with some strong comedic talent (Will Ferrel, Kenan Thompson, Awkwafina) and a solidly funny script to set up some beef with the country of Norway and how they sell more electric cars per capita than the United States. Ferrel and crew put some effort into their performances, which kept this from feeling like a “good for them for getting paid” type of commercial. It made me chuckle, folks!
If you blinked, you might have missed this. Yes, Reddit paid for 5 seconds of air time to air a couple of paragraphs. The point, of course, is that there wasn’t enough time to read it all, and curious viewers would find the whole thing on the Internet later. It was a very bold move and a clever conversation-starter! I’d imagine more companies moving forward will try this tactic to generate some buzz.
Ask yourself: what if noted super hunk Michael B Jordan was an Amazon Alexa? That’s the whole premise for this Amazon ad and, it executed on it flawlessly. Some genuine laugh out loud moments stemming from the husband trying to cease Alexa B Jordan’s hold on his wife. I like to imagine that this commercial is what caused Jeff Bezos to decide it’s time to retire.
Fiverr went there. Remember the Four Seasons Total Landscaping? The small landscaping company in Pennsylvania found itself in the national spotlight after Rudy Giuliani held a press conference in front of it and tried to pretend he didn’t totally fail to book the Four Seasons hotel. Politics aside, it was the funniest thing to happen in the past five years. Fiverr partnered with the real owner of Four Seasons Total Landscaping to talk about how their service can benefit real small businesses. The audacity! This ad won.
This could have been another “we got celebrities to be in this thing” ad. However the twist that things aren’t always as they appear caught me by surprise and probably helped save on the budget (Don Cheadle notwithstanding.)
This certainly takes the crown for the most engaging Super Bowl commercial in quite some time! With $1 million dollars on the line, the premise is simple. How many bottles of Major Melon Dew can are there in the commercial. Yes, it’s an ultra-expensive social media giveaway! That said, I’d bet a bottle of Mountain Dew that because of this ad, their social media engagement is going to hit a pretty major spike.
The Worst Super Bowl Commercials
I don’t know about these ones, chief. They either weren’t memorable or tried too hard and as a result, they just outright left a bad taste in my mouth. Imagine wasting $40 million like this.
Scotts & Miracle-Gro
First of all: How much money does Scotts & Miracle-Gro have? Cost of airtime aside, their Super Bowl commercial was packed with random celebrity appearances. Martha Stewart, Carl Weathers, Stanley from The Office, John Travolta, and more. On top of that, the ad was promoting some sort of giveaway but was so messy that I couldn’t even tell you what the offer was. Because of this, I forgot about the whole thing by the next commercial break.
I hate this. I hate this so much. Clearly, they were going for an “it’s so bad it’ll be viral” approach, but it ended up simply being so bad that it was just annoying. This commercial actively made me want to consume dairy just to spite it.
Setting aside my appreciation for all things Maya Rudolph I have to say that Klarna missed the mark here. I’ve never heard of Klarna. You’ve never heard of Klarna, either. Despite spending tens of millions on a 30-second spot, neither of us are much closer to learning what Klarna is or does. Is it like eBay? Is it a credit card? I have no idea. Swing and a miss!
Someone was going to do it. Someone was going to plaster a bunch of photos and stock video of frontline workers and American families and talk about the unprecedented times we’ve endured before not-so-subtly advertising their brand. Ford was the one to do it this year and the whole thing felt exploitative and cheap. “We’re in this together, buy a Ford.” Perhaps Ford should have taken a page out of a few other brands’ books and sat this one out.
We may not remember the final score of Super Bowl LV, or that Tampa Bay actually has an NFL team. Yet, for better or worse, we will remember quite a few of these commercials. Each year, it’s the brands willing to take a creative approach to their advertising that consistently rise to the top. Those that play it safe are quickly forgotten, leading to what I imagine must be some pretty tense Monday morning meetings with executives asking, “why did we spend $40 million on that?”