Two teams came and Tom Brady conquered… again, however, the real competition remained off of the field. An annual and longstanding rivalry where brands both big and small dig deep into their creative playbooks with hopes of producing THE breakout commercial that leaves audiences buzzing beyond the end of the fourth quarter. This year, the stakes were at an all-time high. The pandemic forced a shift of strategies where previous years’ champions (think Budweiser, Coke, Pepsi and Hyundai) sat the bench and allowed new rookies (think Reddit, Fiverr, and Robinhood) to get on the field.
So who won the coveted MVC (Most Valuable Commercial)? The experts at Spitball broke down the evening’s biggest brand plays to see what winning campaigns took out the competition, check it out:
Torre’s Pick: Jimmy John’s “King of Cold Cuts”
As I do every year, due to my pathetic occupational hazard, I keep a real-time log of the spots during the game to gauge my authentic reaction so as not to be influenced by the ad tracker results (this causes me to “shush” the family during the game…often). To break free from the expected, popular choices, I particularly enjoyed the Jimmy John’s spot which staged Brad Garrett as Tony Bolognavich, a Mafioso known as the “King of Cold Cuts”, seeking to prevent the sandwich chain from moving into his home turf. It never takes itself too seriously and hits a number if smart comedic notes. My personal favorite touch was when Tony slings processed meats at the face of his docile assistant (which the assistant nibbles on).
Nick’s Pick: Cadillac “Edgar Scissorhands”
Every Super Bowl there is a sizable pack of brands who try to cash in on decades-old pop culture references. While they often feel awkward and underwhelming to me, (Looking at you, Shaggy, Ashton and Mila) the spot that made the nostalgia cut was Cadillac’s Edgar Scissorhands. The gags felt genuinely and delightfully fitting to Tim Burton’s weird fable, and the performances pushed the joy of the spot over the edge, from Winona Ryder’s full and believable commitment to reprising her role as Kim, to Timothée Chalamet’s perfectly quirky embodiment of Johnny Depp’s original Edward. I kid you not, I would gladly watch this movie.
Ruch’s Pick: GM “No Way Norway”
It’s difficult for an ad to immediately grab your attention, make you laugh and be relatable, all while laddering up to an important topic that is worth discussing. With their comedic crosshairs set on ousting Norway as a leader in the EV market, GM (with help from Will Ferrell, Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina) is not only pledging to do their part in bettering the future well-being of our planet, but also serving as a PSA to all of us geographically inept folk that we should pick up a map and get a better understanding of our Nordic countries.
Tara’s Pick: Miller Lite “Ridiculously long calorie-burning Big Game URL”
This clear-cut ad says out loud what every advertiser and consumer knows is true. Ads are meant to cut through the noise and hopefully sway consumers away from the competition. I think this spot was a a great extension of their current campaign and is engaging because of how simple it is. It entices the viewer with a way to win free beer (who doesn’t love that?) while being playful and honest. This spot remained to be the most memorable to me and definitely had the lowest budget out of every other commercial.
Paulina’s Pick: Toyota “Jessica Long Upstream”
Toyota’s Super Bowl commercial featuring Jessica Long’s story as a 13x Paralympic swimmer takes the win in my opinion. Although I typically do really enjoy the funny and lighthearted ads, this one stood out to me this year. The story itself is very powerful and inspiring, but I was also drawn to the compelling visual of the water connecting each scene to further tell the story.
Brittani’s Pick: Cheetos “It Wasn’t Me”
As someone who doesn’t watch the Super Bowl for the football, I look forward to the most ridiculous comical commercials. For starters, I love Mila and Ashton #powercouple. But the Cheetos spot was cheesy (pun intended), clever and hilarious. The catchy Shaggy song hooked me in and had me singing along. Caught you red (orange) – handed … it wasn’t me. Too funny.
Sam’s Pick: State Farm “Drake…From State Farm“
As most college grads from the late aughts of the 2000’s, I like Drake way too much. Also, this is a pretty good ad. Will it win any awards? Probably not; but it pays off a football season of ads, has clear branding, and makes you laugh. Easier said than done.
Kristin’s Pick(s): T-Mobile “The GOAT in 5G”… and more!
There were definitely a few that caught my attention. Knowing Budweiser was stepping away this year for the first time in decades, I thought Sam Adams did a great job bringing back the iconic Clydesdales in a new and comical way. I love subtle jabs. I also thought Reddit was very strategic with their first TV spot because I actually went back and did exactly what they wanted. It felt like a scrappy Spitball idea. The one I loved the most, that I don’t think aired during the big game was T-Mobile’s “The GOAT in 5G” with Brady and Gronk, so smart and funny how they poke fun at themselves. As a Giant’s fan, it made me like Tom Brady for all of about 3 minutes.
Ally’s Pick: Amazon “Alexa’s Body”
At first glance it may have come on a little strong and “sexy” for a brand like Amazon, but I thought that they did the best job with a culturally relevant spot for the big game. While it did not outright call out 2020 for the “lemon” of the year it was (which many brands have already done), it did tap into our culture’s general sense of needing a distraction from everyday quarantine life. I mean there is no better distraction than Michael B. Jordan am I right….