The Best and Worst Ads of Super Bowl LV

The Best and Worst Ads of Super Bowl LV

Feb 8, 2021 • 4 min

It’s that time of the year where we admire (and critique) the great work done by peers in the industry (while also watching to see if Tom Brady can secure his seventh ring).

Super Bowl ads have always held a special place in our hearts, with CDA’s video team having created Speed Stick’s ad for Super Bowl XLVII.

The Best Ads of Super Bowl LV:

Toyota, “Upstream”

Jin Kim, Founder and CEO

This Toyota ad felt powerful and relevant, conveying the message that the brand cared about more than just their product — and it was executed in a way that didn’t feel inauthentic.

In the past, Toyota has tried to come across as sexy, hip, and young, but the authentic truth of the brand is that they’re safe and responsible. By focusing on a moment of real emotional fragility in a family dynamic, this ad helped bring out aspects of the brand identity that had been missing for some time.

GM, “No Way Norway”

Kevin Almeida, Managing Director

Timed as a major push of GM’s re-brand as more of a tech innovation company (as opposed to an automotive company), this spot did a great job blending narrative, brand, and humor to make its point. While audiences are laughing at the antics of the comedians’ patriotic mission against Norway, the underlying message is never lost that America needs to evolve to stay competitive, and GM (whose brand identity is innately intertwined with its “America-ness”) is evolving with it.

Amazon, “Alexa’s Body”

DeLayne Martin, Executive Admin

I love an ad that makes me laugh, and this one hits the mark. A woman daydreaming of Alexa taking the shape of Michael B. Jordan while her understandably confused husband makes hilarious, innuendo-filled remarks makes for a great comedic commercial while also never letting the audience forget what it’s advertising.

It also played up the concept of Alexa as embodying all the things a person might be desperately missing from life, much like a dreamy romance novel hero. A creative way of selling the product through humor.

Katarina Gentry, Graphic Designer

I may be biased because I am a Michael B Jordan fan, but from a marketing perspective, it still leaves a lasting impression, with strong visuals and name cues as it says “Alexa” the whole time.

Celebrity appearances are not uncommon in Super Bowl ads, and Amazon chose a drool-worthy celebrity to capture the attention of females who might be daydreaming about their own perfect Alexa (“What a good listener! So helpful around the house!”) right now.

M&M’s, “Come Together” 

Anthony Charles, Social Media Marketing Manager

On the surface, the ad poked fun at cringe-y cultural trends and events from the past year (particularly the gender reveal party that caused some of the California wild fires), but one level down, I think this ad was about acknowledging how exhausted everyone is with the shape of the world right now, and relating to that exhaustion by acknowledging that, yes, it’s ok to give yourself a little treat every now and then (which is authentic to the product’s role in the end user’s daily life).

The celebrity appearance of Dan Levy fit right in, as Schitt’s Creek has become an iconic pandemic sitcom.

Cheetos, “It Wasn’t Me”

Quynh Nguyen, Marketing Coordinator, inZa Lab

Similar to their 2020 Super Bowl ad with MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This,” Cheeto’s spot relied on audio nostalgia paired with famous faces from the early 2000s to target an older Millennial audience.

It was also reminiscent of those “Do you know this song?” TikTok challenges, playing a game with the reference to Shaggy’s song “It Wasn’t Me.” All in all, it did a good job of strategically focusing on a very specific audience with its use of irreverent humor, generation-specific celebrities, and nostalgia triggers.

Tide, “The Jason Alexander Hoodie”

Barbie Chiu, PR & Media Relations Specialist

My favorite ad was Tide’s “The Jason Alexander Hoodie,” which put a hilarious spin on “if these walls could talk.” I loved how Jason Alexander’s expression changed with each new awful turn of events, but even better was how the ad tapped into the audience’s heightened prioritization of health and wellness from this past year.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, “Lets Grab A Beer”

Daniella Coradini, Account Executive

I felt that this spot successfully appealed to a diverse audience by identifying the authentic value of its casual beer portfolio to a real-world audience, positioning the brand around relatable daily life. Contrast this to what we might consider a typical alcohol commercial that emphasizes escapism and a party lifestyle.

On the Other Hand….Worst Ad of the Year?

Robinhood, “We Are All Investors”

Jin Kim, Founder and CEO

My least favorite ad was the Robinhood ad. It felt forced and inauthentic; an awkward sales video disguised as encouraging inclusivity. They did a lot of things right, with their representation of diversity and multi-culturalism, but they’re not JP Morgan Chase or Wells Fargo. Robinhood’s brand truth is simplicity and low barrier to entry. By trying to be too aspirational, their creative content wasn’t executed to match that theme.

Jeep, “The Middle”

Kevin Almeida, Managing Director

If I had to pick one brand that I thought missed the mark, it was Jeep. Aesthetically, they had a strong position that fit the brand, with rustic & outdoorsy Americana iconography. Jeep’s parent company has done a whole series of these ads over the years, including Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” in 2012.

Jeep’s aspirational narrative in 2020, however, of a “Reunited States of America,” came across as a bit out of touch given the highly-polarized, highly-emotional political climate in the country right now. If the ad’s comments section is any indication, the brand may have alienated a portion of their audience on both sides of the political spectrum. The most frequent topic in the ad’s youtube comments, at least as of Sunday evening, seems to be “how does buying a Jeep fix American politics?”

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