The best Super Bowl ad of 2021 (and 5 really bad ones)

Okay, fast, identify the primary ad to run throughout the Super Bowl!

In fact you possibly can’t bear in mind.

It doesn’t assist that almost all manufacturers have been teasing out or simply flat out releasing their adverts for weeks now, all making an attempt to squeeze one other drop of consideration out of the whole spectacle. It’s simple to be a cynic, however there is no such thing as a doubt that regardless of our eyeballs being inundated with tens of 1000’s of adverts daily, we nonetheless all watch this recreation and actively concentrate—even sit up for—the commercials.


It’s that one magical day a 12 months for manufacturers used to the precise reverse each different day on the calendar.

This previous 12 months was a bizarre one, not the Super Bowl’s first, however you’d by no means really realize it watching these adverts. Not a masks in sight. Social distance . . . huh? Ah properly, chalk it as much as the high quality artwork of escapism and a really actual want to keep away from having made 2021’s Dead Kid ad.

Regardless of all of the tens of millions spent and the celebrities wrangled into the hullabaloo, to place it in soccer phrases, most of the adverts have been 4 yards and a cloud of mud. No Hail Marys. No promoting equivalents of the helmet catch. There have been some fairly good performs, however one stood out among the many relaxation.

And the (fully subjective) best business of the 2021 Super Bowl trophy goes to . . . Amazon!

Created by the company Fortunate Generals, the spot sees Amazon again experimenting with Alexa anthropomorphism for the Super Bowl. It first went to this properly in 2018, when Alexa’s voice was changed by celebrities resembling Gordon Ramsey, Cardi B, and Insurgent Wilson. Then final 12 months it was a take a look at Alexas all through historical past. Now issues step up a notch, with the digital assistant turning into Michael B. Jordan within the flesh. Like, really within the flesh.

This isn’t an authentic thought, however it’s one which jumps off from one—and does so fairly spectacularly. Jordan is nice because the straight man right here, whereas the husband-and-wife combo hilariously navigates the brand new know-how. There are rather a lot of manufacturers utilizing celebrities of their Super Bowl adverts, however none fairly hit the mark as properly. Amazon delivers a capital S, capital B Super Bowl business with the right mixture of a significant model, a significant superstar, and ideal execution. (It even sneaks in a promo for Jordan’s upcoming movie With out Regret, debuting on Prime Video subsequent month.) It’s all nearly sufficient to make you overlook the corporate is properly on its option to controlling the whole universe.

And now the worst . . .

In terms of judging the worst Super Bowl commercials, there are a couple of extra components concerned than an ad being merely bad, boring, or unforgivably misguided. Main components into account are the scale and scale of the model and its normal inventive promoting and Super Bowl pedigree. You possibly can’t really examine Squarespace, for instance, a model with unbelievable inventive within the latest previous with Keanu Reeves (2018), John Malkovich (2017), Key & Peele (2016), and Jeff Bridges (2015), on the identical scale as, say . . . WeatherTech (USA! USA! USA!). It’s like evaluating apples and sledgehammers. Let’s gooooooo.


Squarespace “5 to 9”

We invoked its identify already, so why not begin right here? On paper, this business kills. You possibly can nearly think about the Don Draper-style pitch presentation. “We’re going to get Dolly Parton to rerecord her 1980 hit ‘9 to 5’ as an anthem to Twenty first-century side-hustle tradition!” The room collectively rises and grinds.

Besides what we find yourself with is a conceptually generic ad (directed by Oscar winner Damien Chazelle??) that sees cubicle-bound employees burst into shade when that clock hits 5, as new entrepreneurial potentialities come to life. This entire caterpillar-to-butterfly conceit is an age-old ad trope. It’s been used to promote all the things from laundry detergent to insurance coverage. What makes this extra disappointing is the way it compares to the model’s extraordinary previous. The Jeff Bridges sleep album? Gold.

In the meantime, the lyrical blasphemy right here is of the best order. May or not it’s worse? Certain, perhaps if Arby’s obtained Robert Plant to redo “Stairway to Heaven.” And she or he’s buuuuying a Beef N’ Cheddar at Arrrrrrrby’s . . .

Uber Eats “Wayne’s World”

Talking of brutal murders of popular culture nostalgia, Uber Eats enticed Mike Myers and Dana Carvey out of cable entry character retirement to make use of Wayne and Garth in its spot hyping native meals supply. As somebody who grew up loving Wayne’s World, this feels just like the equal of seeing 77-year-old Mick Jagger strut on stage at SNL to “Begin Me Up”. . . It appears like the unique, however the years don’t precisely age it like a high quality wine.

Cardi B makes a cameo to deliver all of it into 2021, and there’s a TikTok second, in addition to a nod again to the product placement spoof of the primary Wayne’s World film. Factor is, you possibly can’t spoof product placement if you’re in the center of an enormous product placement. It’s like yelling “Meat is homicide!” whereas your elbow is deep in BBQ ribs.

Jimmy John’s “Meet the King”

Ay oh! Seems the ridiculous mobster trope nonetheless isn’t lifeless! Brad Garrett stars as Tony Bolognavich, “The King of Chilly Cuts,” whose turf is getting squeezed by this midrange, two-first-name sandwich chain. Will we even must get into what number of adverts have finished this bit? This isn’t even the primary one within the Super Bowl! Audi just about sewed up the best version back in 2008 with its bumper-and-front-grill-in-the-bed Godfather gag. That is extra like Gotti: The Super Bowl Ad.

Cheetos “It Wasn’t Me”

As soon as once more, right here we now have a model using a catchy hit track with a view to draft off its emotional nostalgia among the many viewers. Again in 2000, Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” was a licensed megahit, hitting primary in a laundry record of nations on its option to promoting tens of millions of copies. Which brings us to Cheetos. If making an excellent Super Bowl ad was as simple as typing profitable components from previous adverts into an AI-based business generator, then this spot appears to be like like a certain factor: A enjoyable track. Two extremely likable celebrities in Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. And Shaggy is there in a wonderfully charming facet position. In observe, although? Kutcher’s singing voice is a cross between Chad Hanks and Edith Bunker. It’s . . . distracting.


Very like Squarespace, maybe what’s most disappointing is the waste of expertise mixed with Cheetos’s personal inventive ad pedigree. This is identical model that not solely used the identical cheese mud gag for “Can’t Touch This,” but additionally issues just like the Noticed Cheetah restaurant—and a whole mansion. Right here, like Kutcher, it simply hits too many of the unsuitable notes.

Robinhood “We’re All Traders”

Now we come to the pièce de résistance of business tone deafness. Lower than two weeks in the past, Robinhood grew to become Subject A in a rustic the place when a extremely valued Silicon Valley startup is what everyone seems to be speaking about, it’s seemingly not as a result of it did one thing wonderful and good. Everyone knows of the GameStop inventory market story, and within the course of we’ve realized rather a lot about choices buying and selling and brief promoting and all that enjoyable stuff. There have arguably been any quantity of of us searching for to solid a villain on this drama, and Robinhood, the free buying and selling app, has been one of them. There are, as of now, six—rely ’em, six!—Hollywood productions making an attempt to wrestle this story into comedy, drama, farce, or all of the above.

If you happen to occur to seek out your self in that state of affairs and uncover that you’ve a Super Bowl set to run in mere days, rather a lot of corporations would both cancel the ad and eat the fee (sensible!) or make a brand new ad searching for to deliver down the temperature as class-action lawsuits and invites to look earlier than Congress pile up. (Dangerous however not inconceivable!)

I’ll let you know what you don’t do: Simply run the ad you beforehand made and fake prefer it’s all good. Particularly when your spot within the can is aiming for a kumbaya funding anthem, celebrating its clients, with not even a whiff of absolutely the sh*tstorm it had created amongst these very clients mere days in the past. Why not simply run the (*5*) for 30 seconds and slap their emblem on the top?