21 of 2021: The Wins, The Fails and the WTF’s of Superbowl Ads

The Superbowl is the night when the best of the best get to flex, show their hard work – change the game forever –  or leave, ridiculed and ashamed after a bad performance. Also, between these ads, some guys play some sports.

Murf, one of our Dawning Digital Creative Strategists, sat down with some popcorn and a Youtube Premium subscription to watch, analyse and categorize this year’s 21 most talked about Super Bowl ads, so you don’t have to. What follows are her incredibly biased, unscientific conclusions:

1.UberEats: Wayne’s World Reunites

A fun little throwback, a self aware nod to shifty advertising tactics and a message to support local business? It’s cute. Also wins extra points for putting Wayne and the WAP goddess on the same couch. Not groundbreaking but pretty pleasant for me, the target audience.

Verdict: Win

2. Tide: The Jason Alexander Hoodie

Dude, I thoroughly hate this. Jason Alexander is neither relevant nor obscure enough to make this name drop work and all it’s going to make me do is not buy this detergent. It may get people talking but tbh that talk is NOT going to lead to sales. Not good.

Verdict: WTF

3. Amazon: Alexa’s Body

Ok so I will admit that this review is entirely biased by my thirst for Michael B Jordan – but the concept of giving Alexa a body AND letting that body be THIS man. Sign me the fuck up. It’s shot like a romance movie and brings them big names – I almost forget how terrifying Jeff Bezos is. Nice.

Verdict: Win. Also if you’re reading this, Michael – call me.

4. Squarespace: 5 to 9

Cute, and Queen Dolly almost saves it – but didn’t one shot takes and broadway-to-screen commercial peak in like, 2015? Won’t remember this tbh.

Verdict: Fail.

5. Cheetos: It Wasn’t Me

If you’re too young to remember “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy, you don’t have to worry about bills or your knees and I already hate you. That being said, I don’t like watching rich white people half-rap and this doesn’t spark any urge to snack in me. I could have done with some light comedic violence.

Verdict: Fail.

6. Scotts & Miracle Gro: Backyards

THIS is how you do cameos. The references in here are so widely varied that I’d be surprised to find someone who doesn’t end up saying “ooh it’s THAT guy!” when this comes on. I mean I don’t give a single shit about lawns and I think bald John Travolta looks like an egg with a beard, but I had a good time.

Verdict: Win.

7. Michelob Ultra: Happy

My god, Serena Williams can command a screen. Anyway – “joy is in the journey” message again. Ok bro idk I don’t watch sports. None of these pro-athletes actually drink beer. I am not moved.

Verdict: Fail.

8. Michelob Ultra: Happy

 I mean… it’s the same ad but with TV people. I really liked Don Cheadle in that one heist movie so it gets more points. But I still maintain that none of these people drink store-beer.

Verdict: Fail 2.

9. Doritos: Flat Matt

I am thoroughly amused. The guy who pitched this definitely smoked some Wacky Tobaccy before this meeting. I usually prefer my Matthew McConaughey with more three dimensional abs, but confused, sparkly Mindy Kaling definitely pushed this in a direction I liked. Also I don’t think I bought enough chips for this viewing party.

Verdict: Win.

10. Hellman’s: Mayo God Mother

I’m definitely in the ‘mayonnaise on everything’ camp. But, I think the Surreal Brand Mascot thing has been done a million times, and if you’re paying Amy Schumer’s appearance fee, at least try for funny. I don’t really care for this.

Verdict: Fail.

11. Bud Light: Legends Collab

WERK Mandalorian reference! WERK  stop animation! WERK comically timed Wilhelm Scream! Good references, but the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts here. The Avengers reference is dated and this ad defs could have aired last year with the same effect, but I commend the effort with regards to the current difficulty in production regulations.

Verdict: Win, I guess?

12. Bud Light: When Life Gives You Lemons

So, the overarching pun is lame –  but the physical comedy is excellent and the sheer logistics of hurling that much fruit from the heavens must have been insane and also BIG 2020 mood, so I like it.

Verdict: Win.

13: Rockstar Energy: Real Rockstars

I watched this 30 seconds ago and I literally don’t remember any of it. That’s all.

Verdict: Fail.

14: FritoLay: Night Before Superbowl

Living halfway across the actual world and not giving a single shit about sport, I am STILL laughing at that sports guy reading a bedtime story in a gown in front of  a painting of himself reading a bedtime story in a gown. And that fully grown man and his CGI twin being yelled at to go to bed by another fully grown man. 10/10 farce. I love it. More 6 foot men in footie pyjamas, please.

Verdict: Win.

15. Stella Artois: Billionaires

Shut up, Lenny Kravitz. You may have nice hair but I’m still poor.

Verdict: WTF.

16: Chipotle: Can A Burrito Save The World

Idk, Chipotle. Noble message, and well shot – but until you pay your fast food workers a living wage, let’s tone the “high and mighty’ down a tad, maybe?

Verdict: Fail.

17: M&M’s: Sorry...

Topical, fast-paced, and if you cast actual actors as the CGI M&M’s, it would be horrifyingly dark. Perfect.

Verdict: Win.

18. Anheuser Busch: Grab A Beer

Admittedly, I am here for a fun time, not an emotional time, but this one got me. After so long being alone, that “we need each other” message made me want to call my mom. Damn you for making me realise I have a heart, advertisement.

Verdict: Win.

19. Oatly: Wow, No Cow

That’s a no from me bro. It’s like every preachy vegan boyfriend I’ve ever had who was “in a band” arrived on my screen at once to tell me I was morally bankrupt. I almost threw the carton of oat milk in my fridge out a window. 

Verdict: Fail.

20. Cadillac: Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands is a goth icon, and this Timothee Chalamet remake is fun and faithful and brings my boii to a Gen Z audience in a way I can appreciate. My only qualm here is that they’re pretending a normal suburban family in a 2.5 bedroom home can afford a Cadillac as a starter vehicle. Was it like “excuse me sire, I will take 6.5 mortgages, please?”

Verdict: Win.

21. Toyota: Upstream

If you have anything bad to say about this ad, you’re a monster.
“It might not be easy, but it will be amazing. I can’t wait to meet her.”
*cue sobbing*

Verdict: Win, through happy tears.