While some big brands like Budweiser chose to sit on the bench for the Big Game (but did they, really?), there still were plenty of advertisers vying for eyeballs, accolades and buzz.
Since we’re in Bourbon Country, our critiques of the Super Bowl ads will apply our soon-to-be-trademarked bourbon-review-style rating scale as follows:
- Limited Release: the cream of the crop; a rarity. You will want to camp outside the liquor store for this one.
- Your Everyday Bottle: always fits the bill. It’s what you’d expect and that’s pretty darn good.
- High Proof: comes in hot. Some like it, some don’t, but highly effective either way.
- Letdown: lots of hype. You paid a high price, but it’s just not worth it.
- Rotgut: found on the bottom shelf and should stay there.
So here’s how some BCHampions scored a selection of the ads:
Tide – Jason Alexander Hoodie
Your Everyday Bottle: The use of Jason Alexander wasn’t necessary. That’s an odd statement since the spot is titled “Jason Alexander Hoodie,” and you’d think his presence would be critical. However, what is nice about the spot is the story of the relation we humans have with our “go-to” clothing favorites. It was fun to see our daily activities through the eyes of our clothes. It puts me in mind of a silly take on the iconic Spike Jonze anthropomorphic Ikea lamp spot.-BRIAN, creative director
Limited Release: I mean, all I think of is George Constanza with a rose in his mouth, but that’s fine… it’s clean.-JENNY, public relations supervisor
Shift4Shop – Go to Space
Your Everyday Bottle: I’m always a sucker for a classic song to carry the tone and message of a commercial. It’s familiar yet eruptive enough to stop the chatter and make people want to watch.-ALLISON, partner
Letdown: I’m a space nerd so when saw the dramatic closeups of the astronaut suit and the mission patch I knew something big was coming. The first all-civilian trip to space? Whoa… that’s cool, tell me more. Wait, there’s a St. Jude logo? What’s Shift4Shop? Now I’m confused. A :30 spot that really needed :60.-MATT, partner
Jeep – ReUnited States
Limited Release: Excellent production values with a message that is on brand for the product. And choosing Bruce for the delivery was also on point.-TIM, founding partner
Limited Release: Jeep took a chance and wholeheartedly called the entire country out for being more divided than we have ever been. Did it work? I think so. Jeep’s bold claim of how we must reunite these United States made me do a double take. I give them props for having the guts to tell the mass amounts of people who watch the Super Bowl today’s reality… all while a classic Jeep CJ is meticulously shown in the background.-KATHERINE, media coordinator
Your Everyday Bottle: I love the line, “the ReUnited States of America” as social commentary. I don’t know what Jeep has to do with it, aside from being the one who is saying it. I like the sentiment and personally I want to embrace the movement, hopefully I don’t need to buy a Jeep to do so, cause I’m not really looking to buy a car anytime soon. I’m curious if they’ll catch any backlash by showing a Christian church as the “center of the lower 48.” Hopefully not because I’d like to reunite.-BRIAN, creative director
Oatly – Wow No Cow
High Proof: They got their message across without all the hype or celebrities to back it up, instead, they used a catchy (yet maybe annoying to some) tune. “Wow, wow, no cow,” had me humming along which to me, means their gimmick worked. It got my attention and created a lot of conversation.-OUTHAY, senior account manager
Rotgut: It’s like it was making me try to see a cow in the clouds and I was begging for one grazing in the fields. I just wasn’t feeling it. Honestly, it made me want “got milk” even more.-JENNY, public relations supervisor
High Proof: Points for simplicity. Some people might not like the song, but they’ll forgive Oatly after they try their oat milk.-TOM, art director
Rotgut: This was cringeworthy with the CEO singing. I’m not sure if they were trying to be bad and troll us but that seems to have been what they were going for.-PRESTON, digital media buyer
M&M’s – I’m Sorry
Limited Release: A brand that always nails it from tone to consistent brand messaging of bringing people together in a fun way. Love the approach to being empathetic during a time when everyone is struggling with something – big or small – without having to be so direct and reference “unprecedented times” or new virtual “at home” norms.-ALLISON, partner
Your Everyday Bottle: M&M’s is gold because Dan Levy is platinum. Pure goodness.-JENNY, public relations supervisor
Reddit – Five Second Ad
High Proof: Great way to disrupt the conversation with literally nothing more than a .jpeg highlighting a real Reddit user, at the peak of the Reddit/GameStop stock saga.-TAYLOR, social media manager
High Proof: Love or hate how an online community can influence the financial markets in such a way as what happened with GameStop, but you have to tip your hat to the nimble approach to this spot, both in timing and relevance, but also the subtle nod to “the regular folks” with a brand that couldn’t afford a full :30 spot. Bet you paused to rewind.-MATT, partner
Cheetos – It Wasn’t Me
High Proof: I felt like there were multiple levels of connection for my age group. Bringing in Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis as the couple connects for the iconic “That 70s Show” and Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” was a great execution of the concept. I can see a certain audience not getting it though.-ALEX, account manager
Rotgut: Ashton Kutcher doing an impression of Shaggy, uhm no thank you. If you have nothing nice to say just watch the next ad.
-BRIAN, creative director
Amazon – Alexa’s Body
Your Everyday Bottle: This spot with Michael B. Jordan was released the week before the Big Game and the memes have been amazing. It definitely won the internet over… and many just watching the game I’m sure. 😀-TAYLOR, social media manager
High Proof: Love the originality yet familiarity of this spot with its humor and escape from reality. Amazon continues to take over the world, like it or not.-ALLISON, partner
Chipotle – Change the World
Your Everyday Bottle: Really solid ad to combat years of negative press against the brand’s food quality. Being told in a children’s voice makes it compelling, realistic and engaging. All hail the Chipotle burrito.
-JENNY, senior public relations manager
Rotgut: I didn’t like it. All the things described change the burrito. The burrito doesn’t change those things.-ALEX, account manager
Rocket Mortgage – Certain is Better
Your Everyday Bottle: Can’t go wrong when you’re certain. Great adaptation to what we all think of when we go through big decision-making processes. Add Tracy Morgan, you win.-JENNY, public relations supervisor
Limited Release: Tracy Morgan just makes me smile. And by repeating the mantra over and over it really made you believe that when it comes to mortgages, you better be certain. The entertainment value plus the effectiveness combine to earn the extra high rating here.-MATT, partner
Your Everyday Bottle: A fun bunch of vignettes with a simple takeaway message, “pretty sure isn’t good enough, and certain is better.” I dig this simple formula for a memorable viewing experience. Aside from people who work in advertising and marketing, real humans are only kind of paying attention to ads and usually more interested in skipping them. With that in mind, a fun idea, with a simple message, that can easily be remembered is a solid play. Entertaining your audience and not making them decipher a bunch of stuff is respectful of an audience who’s trying to relax after a long day.-BRIAN, creative director
Fiverr – Opportunity Knocks
Limited Release: Connecting with cultural iconography can be a powerful strategy. This spot pushed Four Seasons Total Landscaping back into the spotlight again, explaining that Fiverr is a great online marketplace for small business… “even a PR expert,” showing the newly famous landscaping company adding a fancy new press conference venue. The idea is “there’s more to Four Seasons Total Landscaping than you know”, thanks to Fiverr.-ABBY, senior account manager
Limited Release: I thought this was the funniest ad of the night. That’s the only reason for this rating though. I’m not sure how it connects to the brand, but it sparks curiosity.-ALEX, account manager
Bud Light – Legends
Letdown: All of the classic characters fell flat for me. I was expecting major fireworks with all of those legends.-PRESTON, digital media buyer
Limited Release: I loved it. I think Bud Light does an incredible job of telling a story, and bringing in the “Real Men of Genius” guy, Post Malone, Cedric the Entertainer, and of course the Bud Knight was a great collection of their brand’s past and present advertising hits.-ALEX, account manager
Your Everyday Bottle: It’s what I’d expect and I would kind of like to be rescued by some Bud Light right now.-JENNY, public relations supervisor
Indeed – The Rising
Your Everyday Bottle: Very “on brand” for 2020 and the pandemic with a heartfelt message that is all inclusive.-ALLISON, partner
Your Everyday Bottle: The inspiration we all needed to move forward “after” COVID. It’s going to be OK. You can do this, we can do this, let’s do it together… whoever you are. That’s what this ad makes you believe.-JENNY, public relations supervisor
Your Everyday Bottle: They brought us some of our favorite actors and chucked them all in a room together. You know the joke Stephen Colbert, Patrick Stewart, and SpongeBob walk into a bar… No? Well maybe we should make one. The commercial was light-hearted and personally I think it’s going to get people excited about Paramount’s new streaming service. They are a little late to the game – but I am excited to see what they have to offer.-KATHERINE, media coordinator
High Proof: Beavis and Butthead crack me up. Heh heh… heheh.-TOM, art director
Anheuser-Busch – Let’s Grab a Beer
Limited Release: It’s the first time we’re seeing a corporate ad as opposed to a brand-specific spot from Anheuser-Busch. While lots of brands focus on emotional connections this year, A-B does a nice job of distilling (or brewing?) it down to a simple and single human truth: we need one another.-ALLISON, partner
Your Everyday Bottle: Gives a deeper meaning to “grabbing a beer with someone” and makes you feel good about something you already do. And extra credit for all the PR gained in advance of this by announcing Budweiser wouldn’t have a brand-specific spot during the game, but still scoring all the same points Bud would have with this spot.-MATT, partner
Your Everyday Bottle: Simple message but certainly the core of the brand. Nice touch to have no real product focus…just emphasis on the category. And the message was a nod to the situation we have endured over the last year without being too sappy.-TIM, partner
Toyota – Paralympic Swimmer
Limited Release: The story was good, and the storytelling was amazing. The mini sets placed in the water with the audio story playing over the swimmer making her way through the vignettes was beautiful and made a poignant experience. So many of these “tug at your heart strings” spots can feel forced and pandering, but the visuals were poetic and engaging in a way that felt powerful.-BRIAN, creative director
Limited Release: Toyota’s commercial with Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long made a great emotional connection and portrayed hope and strength very well. It was the standout winner in my opinion. Not sure how they tied it back to cars though.-PRESTON, digital media buyer
In tomorrow’s post, we reveal the two spots that evoked the greatest volume of unprompted responses—positive or negative—from our panel.
Can you guess what they are?