It might not have seemed likely early in the coronavirus pandemic, but the 55th Super Bowl Sunday is upon us yet again. Each year, United States advertisers pull out all the stops to entertain the crowd of 100 million viewers expected to tune in to the CBS broadcast on Sunday. This year there are more than 20 newcomers as well as old favourites. Amazon shows off a sexy new body for its Alexa assistant, actor Dan Levy apologises for eating M&M’s, and Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade makes a downpour of lemons a metaphor for 2020’s troubles. And as always, expect some surprises, too.
Amazon: New Body
In an ad ostensibly to tout Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa’s new spherical shape, a woman imagines that her new Alexa has the voice — and body — of actor Michael B Jordan, who takes off his shirt to dim the lights and read an audiobook to her in the tub, all to the chagrin of her hapless husband. It’s one of the only ads to play with sexual innuendo this year.
“It pushes the sexiness, the weirdness, the fantasy element, which is just so culturally right for the moment when people are stuck at home together without a lot of diversion,” said Mark DiMassimo, creative chief of marketing agency DiMassimo Goldstein.
Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade: Last Year’s Lemons
Bud Light introduces its new Seltzer Lemonade with an ad that depicts a downpour of literal lemons in 2020, which ruins weddings, cancels flights, disrupts at-home haircuts, destroys baseball stadium cardboard cutouts — and causes general chaos. It’s a not-so-subtle nod to the plans that were derailed during 2020 and the axiom “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Cadillac: Edgar Scissorhands
In another nostalgia-fest, Cadillac revisits the classic 1990 movie Edward Scissorhands. In the ad, actor Timothee Chalamet portrays Edward’s son Edgar, who has difficulty with his inherited scissor hands when he deflates a football and severs a bus’s stop cord. Then he tries out the Cadillac Lyriq’s “hands-free super cruise” feature, which allows you to drive with little hand contact. Winona Ryder from the original film also revisits her role as Edgar’s mother.
Cheetos: It Wasn’t Me
Cheetos’s ad shows real-life married couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher wrangling over a bag of Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix — to the tune of Shaggy’s 2000 pop hit It Wasn’t Me — with the frayed nerves of a couple who have been stuck inside too long.
There are more than 20 first-time advertisers this year, but most are sticking to nostalgia and celebrities to stand out. Dr Squatch, a little-known direct-to-consumer soap and personal care brand, is one of the few to embrace weird humour to stand out. The tongue-in-cheek ad shows a man walking through the woods espousing why Dr Squatch’s natural soap is the right choice for the modern man who “opens pickle jars” and “lets his daughter braid his hair”.
GM: No Way Norway
When Will Ferrell finds out Norway has more electric vehicles per capita than the US, he goes on a madcap journey spanning countries with singer and actress Awkwafina and comedian Kenan Thompson to show that General Motors’ new battery for electric cars will soon be available for everyone.
Inspiration4: Join Us
In what is surely a first in Super Bowl history, an ad for Inspiration4, a SpaceX supported all-civilian space mission, touts a chance for viewers to join the mission. The ad shows shots of the SpaceX astronaut uniform in space to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and is directed by Bryce Dallas Howard.
M&M’s: Come Together
A bag of M&M’s is the perfect apology for mansplaining, calling someone a “Karen,” having a gender reveal party accident or other contemporary faux pas. Dan Levy of Schitt’s Creek apologises to the M&M anthropomorphic characters that are Super Bowl mainstays and says he promises not to “eat any more of their friends”.
Squarespace: 5 to 9
The website-building and hosting company enlisted Dolly Parton herself to rewrite the lyrics of her classic ode to the working day, 9 to 5, to pay tribute to workers who work on their own businesses from “5 to 9” instead.
Uber Eats: Shameless Manipulation
The food delivery service enlists Wayne’s World actors Mike Myers and Dana Carvey — along with singer Cardi B — to promote ordering from local restaurants. It’s one of several commercials that are trying to capitalise on viewer nostalgia.
Although most ads have been revealed in order to try to capture pre-game buzz, there will undoubtedly be some surprises on game day. Jeep, which created the hit “Groundhog’s Day” remake ad starring Bill Murray last year, will be back in the game as well. Online gig marketplace Fiverr, a first-time advertiser, has teased that its ad will feature Four Seasons Total Landscaping, the site of an ill-fated Rudy Giuliani press conference in November.
Another first-time advertiser, DoorDash, is teaming with Sesame Street to promote neighbourhood delivery. And E*Trade, famous for the talking baby ads it ran in the Super Bowl from 2008 until they “retired” in 2014, is back in the big game with an undisclosed ad.