Attracting an average of 160 million fans each year, the Super Bowl is traditionally the biggest advertising event in the calendar. But how do things differ during a global pandemic? The Drum rounds up the best ads rolling towards this particularly different Super Bowl Sunday.
The biggest game in the US sporting calendar, each year, the Super Bowl is a perfect excuse to crack open a couple of cold beverages with some friends, before sitting back to watch the show unfold. So, what happens to one of the most-watched TV advertising slots in the time of a global pandemic?
While chancing millions of ad spend has always been a precarious investment, this year, that risk has only increased. As such, some of the world biggest brands have decided to sit this one out, including the likes of Coca-Cola, Ford and Budweiser.
However, by opting out they have generated just as much buzz. Last week, Budweiser has already been declared the 'winner', after it decided to redirect its funds to the Ad Council and Covid Collaborative to help drive vaccine distribution across the country.
As for those gutsy brands that are standing by the $5.5 million fee to participate in Super Bowl LV, most are avoiding sobering themes, in lieu of some humorous escapism.
Below, The Drum rounds up the best Super Bowl creative this year. Scroll down to see what brands have come up with so far.
Klarna: The Four Quarter-Sized Cowboys by Mirimar
On Sunday (7 February) the global shopping and payment service Klarna revealed its first-ever Big Game campaign. ‘The Four Quarter-Sized Cowboys’ spot was created with LA-based creative agency Mirimar.
A comedic and harmony-filled adventure of four unlikely cowboys, it featured actress and comedian Maya Rudolph in the roles of four quarter-sized, singing cowboys, each with their own distinct style and personality.
Riding into a modern-meets-classic Western town, the quartet discover and purchase the perfect pair of cowboy boots, illustrating why getting what you love and paying for it over four small payments with Klarna is the smarter way to shop.
The characters played by Rudolph personify Klarna’s 'Pay in 4’ offering, which enables customers to shop anywhere online and pay in four, interest-free payments.
Jeep: The Middle by Doner
Jeep has finally convinced Bruce Springsteen to align himself with an advertiser with its two-minute Super Bowl spot.
Reflecting a national mood of coming together, the spot arrives with the tagline 'To the ReUnited States of America'.
"We just have to remember the very soil we stand on is common ground,” Springsteen says in the spot. “Our light has always found its way through the darkness. And there’s hope up on the road ahead.”
DoorDash: The Neighborhood by The Martin Agency
DoorDash has aired its first-ever Super Bowl spot, titled 'The Neighborhood'. It features Sesame Street characters alongside the actor Daveed Diggs, and unveils the company’s evolution from connecting consumers with restaurants to connecting them with merchants in their neighborhood.
The essence of the spot is about optimism–giving something back to your community, in hopes of brightening their days and building a groundswell of support for our neighborhoods. As part of the campaign, DoorDash invited consumers to join them in support of Sesame Workshop’s global education media and social impact programs.
State Farm: Drake from State Farm by The Marketing Arm
A behind-the-scenes style spot that plays on the concept of body doubles, State Farm has enlisted the help of a starstudded cast, as it gets on board the Super Bowl for the first time.
The spot opens with State Farm regulars, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes sizing up their 'stand ins' on the set of a commericial selected by 'Jake from State Farm'.
While they poke fun at the stunt doubles (Packers fan-favourite Adrian Martinez 'The Cheesehead' and Kansas City Chiefs fan Paul Rudd) Jake from State Farm is less disapppointed by his body double - the rapper, Drake.
Bud Light: Bud Light Legends by 3pm and Weber Shandwick
Launched locally in the Tampa Bay area, in support of the Buccaneers this Super Bowl, Bud Light has realsed a custom 'Real Men of Genius' anthem.
The original ad has endured the test of time because it perpetually poked fun at trends, human insights and key cultural moments in time with a ton of Bud Light fun.
And this custom spot is no different. Developed with 3PM and Weber Shandwick, it highlights the perseverance the 'Bucs' have shown throughout the season and gives a special shoutout to Bud Light friend and Bucs TE, Rob Gronkowski.
Reddit: Super Owl by R/GA
Marking Reddit's first-ever Super Bowl ad (and TV commericial) it went for a 'blink-and-you'll miss' strategy. At five-seconds long, 'Superb Owl' is an unconventional approach to the typical big-budget, flashy commericials that typically roll out throughout the big game.
"Big game spots are expensive, so we couldn't buy a full one," reads the ad. "But we were inspired and decided to spend our entire marketing budget on 5 seconds of airtime."
Riding on the attention driven by the GameStop debacle, it wants to prove that the past two weeks have shown powerful things can happen when passionate communities come together.
Created by its agency of record, R/GA, Reddit rallied against the odds to produce this spot, in a matter of days.
Oatly: Wow, Wow, No Cow
Leaving viewers unsure how to respond, Oatly's Super Bowl ad has been the talk of the town since it aired last night.
For its first-ever Super Bowl ad, its chief exec Toni Petersson wrote a song 'Wow, Wow, No Cow' which he sings (quite roughly) repeatedly, in a field of oats.
The 30-seconds spot was made with minimal production costs back in 2014, it is actually now banned in Sweden, after the Swedish dairy lobby sued Oatly.
Cadillac cuts through the Super Bowl hype with a nostalgic trip back in time with the 1990 Tim Burton classic, Edward Scissorhands.
Continuing the tale of Johnny Depp's incomplete fantasy android, the piece sees Timothée Chalamet play Edward's son Edgar with Winona Ryder reprising her role as Kim, Edgar's mother.
Together the pair demonstrate the everyday challenges inherent to living a life without the aid of an opposable thumb or ten digits, should your hands ever be replaced by lethal blades.
As with all good fairytales, a happy ending is provided when Edgar takes the wheel of an all-electric Cadillac LYRIQ equipped with a Super Cruise driver-assistance system - which is proven to be so versatile it can even be driven by a walking Swiss Army knife.
Audi Norway: Don't Hate. Imitate by POL
Hitting back at General Motors (and Will Ferrell) Audi Norway has enlisted the help of Kristofer Hivju (who plays the wildling leader Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones).
In GM's Super Bowl spot, Ferrell is seen making a voyage to Norway to give it a piece of his mind, spurred on by GM's desire to crush its reign as EV-sales leader. In the spot, Ferrell even punches a globe where Norway lies.
And in response, Audi (the best-selling EV car brand in Norway) has devised a series of ads to highlight its hurt at the threatening ads (in a jokey way).
General Motors: No Way, Norway by McCann Detroit
General Motors' (GM) Big Game ad stars Will Ferrell, who discovers Norway far outpaces the United States in electric vehicle adoption. In the commercial, 'No Way, Norway', Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina join Ferrell on his journey to give Norwegians a piece of his mind.
It is an extension of GM's 'Everybody In' campaign, which launched in January, intended to excite a new generation of vehicle buyers and accelerate EV adoption while showcasing the company's Ultium battery platform. The spot features upcoming Ultium-powered electric vehicles, including the Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV and the GMC Hummer EV supertruck.
NFL: As One by 72andSunny
Reusing past speeches of legendary head coach Vince Lombardi, the NFL is championing equality this Super Bowl LV, using CGI to bring him back from the dead.
Directly before kickoff, the spot saw Lombardi walking the streets of today's America, wearing his iconic fedora, and speaking about man's ability to unite and overcome obstacles, regardless of background, race, creed, or sexual orientation. It arrived alongside 'It Takes All Of Us'' voiced by NFL star LaDainian Tomlinson, to use words from the NFL family through yesterday and today to help send the NFL into tomorrow.
Fiverr: Opportunity Knocks by Publicis
Fiverr, the Israeli marketplace for online services has unleashed a green-fingered 15-second SuperBowl salute to a memorable Trump campaign news conference set against the insalubrious backdrop of an industrial yard on the outskirts of Philadelphia.
Sandwiched between an adult book store and a crematorium, the Four Seasons Total Landscaping features as the tongue-in-cheek backdrop to Fiverr's marketing campaign which trumpets that success is about being ’in the right place at the right time’.
Another Round, Another Rally: Mixing with Diddy and Beckham by Maximum Effort
Aviation American Gin owner Ryan Reynolds, DeLeón Tequila Owner Sean Combs (P Diddy) and David Beckham of Haig Whisky are coming together to raise money for Another Round, Another Rally, a nonprofit financial resource for the hospitality industry in the US. providing reimbursement grants and immersive educational scholarships.
Airing this Super Bowl, in the spot created by Reynolds ad agency Maximum Effort, sees Reynolds announce they are working on "an industry first" whereby they will combine all three of their spirits with the “natural ingredients from Tampa Bay and Kansas City for a cocktail everyone can agree on while watching the Big Game this weekend.” Soon realizing they are not mixologists, instead, they come together to support the bartending community.
Another Round and Another Rally: Mixing with Diddy and Beckham by Maximum Effort Productions
Amazon: Alexa's Body by Lucky Generals
Amazon has partnered with Michael B Jordan for his first-ever Super Bowl ad. Created by teams at Amazon and Lucky Generals, 'Alexa's Body' sees Jordan act as the voice (and body) of Amazon's voice assistant.
As the ad discusses Alexa’s new form factor, one executive daydream’s what other beautiful forms Alexa could live inside of…like say the handsome and widely adored actor.
Frito Lay: 'Twas the Night Before Kickoff
Frito Lay had gone Dickensian this Super Bowl, with 'Twas the Night Before Kickoff.' It stars two former New England Patriots greats, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, alongside Dallas Cowboys' Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
Narrated by 'Beast Mode' the former Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, the commercial follows the NFL stars as they eagerly anticipate this years Super Bowl. It was created in-house.
Huggies: Welcome to the World, Baby by Droga5
The first diaper brand to run a Super Bowl ad, on Sunday (7 February) Huggies is to make its debut.
Ahead of the game, Huggies is teasing another spot - 'Welcome to the World, Baby' created by Droga5 New York. It demonstrates what its like for babies being born brand new in life, covering all its marvels - big and small. The ad on Sunday is tipped to feature babies born on game day.
Squarespace: 5 to 9
Singer, songwriter and American icon Dolly Parton re-recorded her 1980 workplace anthem 9 to 5 as 5 to 9 for Squarespace’s seventh Super Bowl commercial that issues a rallying call to the historic number of people who are working to turn an after-hours project or passion into their own business.
Cheetos: It wasn't me by Goodby, Silverstein & Partmers
Mila Kunis gets caught orange handed, snacking on husband, Ashton Kutcher's Cheetos, in its Super Bowl ad.
First teased last week, the spot sees Kutcher catch Kunis on countless occassions, but thanks to some help from Shaggy, she manged to wangle herself out of it with the phrase, 'It Wasn't Me'.
Tide: The Jason Alexander Hoodie by Saatchi & Saatchi
Jason Alexander has played a long list of iconic roles, from George Costanza in Seinfeld to Hugo the gargoyle in Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame. He has never played himself as a hoodie, however... until now.
As the official detergent of the NFL, Tide was not going to miss the Super Bowl party. This year it is challenging people to think about all the situations they subject their clothes to, suggesting how the Seinfeld star might react if he was treated in a similar way.
Michelob Ulta: 'Happy' Super Bowl by Wieden+Kennedy New York
"Are you happy because you win, or do you win because you're happy?" - that's the thought-provoking question Michelob Ultra poses in its Super Bowl ad this year.
Questioning the role joy plays in success, 'Happy' features a whole host of sports superstars, including Serena Williams, Anthony Davis, Peyton Manning, Brooks Koepka, Jimmy Butler and Alex Morgan.
Bud Light Seltzer: Last Year's Lemons by Wieden+Kennedy New York
While Budweiser chose to redirect its ad spend to vaccine distribution efforts, its competitor Bud Light is still going ahead, offering its take on the expression - 'when life gives you lemons'.
Inspired by the do-it-yourself haircuts, postponed weddings and other inconvenient but relatable situations in 2020, the ad looks at the bright moments in a challenging year, to turn last year’s lemons into the new Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade.
Cheetos: Evidence and advice by Goodby & Silverstein
Years after That 70s Show ended, its main stars eventually found love, and everyone wants a piece of Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher's love life. And, so they have had to learn to live with headline after headline predicting the demise of their marriage. So they're here to poke fun at it.
In a two-part teaser for Cheetos, with the finale airing at the Super Bowl LV, a shocked Kutcher receives an envelope of photographs and an empty bag of Cheetos. A teary-eyed Kunis is then seen delivering a passionate monologue, hinting she has been accused of something bad. Not impressed with her take, Shaggy suggests “just stick to the line I gave you”.
Old Spice: Winner by W&K Portland
Old Spice wants to boost confidence with a good old sniff of its range of spicey goods.
In 'Winner', a lad is seen slumped on a reclining chair, when an irresistible urge to smell Old Spice's deodorant overcomes him. He is immediately transformed into the racing car driver of his dreams as he speeds out the room, to glory.
Stella Artois: Lenny Kravitz
Anheuser-Busch’s Stella Artois has put its money on Lenny Kravitz this year. ’Heartbeat Billionaire’ encourages viewers to ’invest’ every heartbeat of life in ’unscripted nights, last-minute plans and good times spent laughing and loving’ – all with a cold glass of Stella Artois in hand.
Stella Artois: Stadium Bites by Blue Apron
Stella Artois is also bringing the game to fans at home, ensuring they're well-fed, as well as watered. 'Stella Stadium Bites' are 'chef-curated' to pair with a cool glass of stella Artois and can be ordered through Blue Apron.
Pizza Hut: $10 Tastemaker by
Enlisting the help of Eastbound & Down and The Office legend Craig Robinson, with fans eating and watching from the comfort of their homes, Pizza Hut wants to keep its brand front of mind this Super Bowl.
Pringles: Space Return by Grey
This Super Bowl, Pringles is suggesting that stacking its range of flavours has the ability to distract a whole control room of space scientists, causing a space mission to go awry.
In a space-themed spot, a pair of astronauts accidentally land in the middle of the sea. After trying to get their attention, a passing boat offers hope of their rescue, but sadly it is filled with a bunch of stackers, and once again the pair get ignored.
Huggies: Baby History by Droga5
Huggies has announced its debut appearance at the Big Game with a teaser spot that suggests "someone big is coming (actually its several someones)".
Come Sunday, fans will see the new commercial welcoming newborn babies to the work. The spot will leverage user-generated content captured by families and shared virtually with the brand's production team.
Sam Adams: Horses by Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Sam Adams is playing its first big game in the Superbowl marketing space, and it has marked the occasion by poking fun at a certain big beer conglomerate.
Aimed at younger audiences, 'Your Cousin From Boston Frees the Clydesdales' launches Sam Adams’ new Wicked Hazy IPA.
Oikos: Pro Face
In 2020, 480,000 people lost their jobs in the fitness industry in the US, due to the pandemic. So, in tandem with its Super Bowl ad, Oikos Pro is launching a grant program, to help give independent fitness businesses and trainers the support and strength they need.
MTN Dew: Counting
Mtn Dew has roped in pro wrestler John Cena to promo its new Mtn Dew Major Melon and Mtn Dew Major Melon Zero Sugar - the beverage brand's first permanent flavor offering in more than a decade.
The spot, which will debut in full during the big game will be highlighted by the opportunity for one lucky fan to cash in on a life-changing prize of $1 million dollars by counting the correct number of bottles appearing in the teaser spot.
P&G: Come Clean to Close the Chore Gap
Procter & Gamble Home Care brands Dawn and Swiffer are coming together to launch 'Come Clean to Close the Chore Gap,' a campaign inviting everyone to do their part to create more equality in the division of household work.
Dawn and Swiffer will air a television spot inviting families to Close the Chore Gap on CBS’ Super Bowl Pregame show, The Super Bowl Today, in an effort to promote positive conversations in households across America.
Cointreau: Love Letter by Intuitive Content
Cointreau’s 'Love Letter' was created for the industry, by the industry – starring real restaurant and bar staff who have been impacted by the pandemic.
The 30-second spot will encourage game-day viewers to share a simple 'Thank You' or a heartfelt 'See You Soon' on social media, tagging their favorite bar or restaurant with hashtag #SaveRestaurants. More than just encouraging words, these love letters will raise awareness of the plight these small businesses continue to face.
Fiverr: Teaser by Publicis
Following the theme of Fiverr's previous 'It Starts Here' campaign, this ad celebrates the hardworking, smart, and savvy small businesses that form the backbone of America.
The teaser opens on Four Seasons Total Landscaping’s now recognizable garage door. As the door opens on a new day, we see owner and President Marie Siravo ready to get to work.
M&M'S: Come Together by BBDO New York
The M&M’S spot presents viewers with a variety of scenarios that might make you say “wow, I really shouldn’t have done that.”
However, the confectionary brand use wit and humor to help us laugh off the little things we all do that can disconnect us from the people around us. Because with a little empathy and laughter - and in some cases, some M&M’s - we can move on and move forward, and maybe even grow a little closer together.
Anheuser Busch: Let's Grab a Beer by Wieden + Kennedy
Anheuser-Busch chose Oscar-nominated filmmaker David Fincher to direct its first-ever corporate Super Bowl spot, called 'Let’s Grab a Beer.'
The ad seeks to remind everyone of the meaningful moments – big and small – that happen when people come together and how, many times, when we say “let’s grab a beer” to someone, it’s usually about so much more than just the beer.
Toyota: Upstream by Saatchi & Saatchi
Fueled by the power of a family’s love, Toyota’s Big Game ad 'Upstream' features Team Toyota athlete Jessica Long’s incredible journey, which began when she was adopted by an American couple from a Russian orphanage.
The spot takes viewers on a trip down memory lane of Long’s childhood, which, in turn, would help lead her to become the second most decorated Paralympian in US history.
UberEats: Wayne's World x Cardi B
UberEats' SuperBowl spot pays tribute to the iconic 90's flick, Wayne's World, starring original cast members Mike Myers and Dana Charvey, as well as a celebrity cameo from Cardi B.
Echoing the fourth-wall-breaking style of the original film, Wayne and Garth reassure the audience they would never try to manipulate them with cheap celebrity appearances, before introducing Cardi B to encourage viewers to support local restaurants via UberEats.
This round-up will be updated as the Super Bowl ads roll on in.