Huge congratulations to Kansas ’— uh, we mean, Missouri’s — Kansas City Chiefs! But despite taking home their first Super Bowl trophy in a half century, the real winner was us, the viewers, because we all know that the best thing about the Big Game is always the commercials (and that halftime show). Fortunately this year’s group of ads were rife with instant classic spots heavy on equal parts humor, star power (Bill Murray! Martin Scorsese!), and general razzle-dazzle. Having said that, there were some fumbles, too (we’re looking at you, Tom Brady). While you’re still struggling to digest last night’s questionable cheese sludge dip, here are the high highs and lowest of the lows of 2020’s crop of Super advertisements.
High: “Groundhog Day,” JEEP
Capitalizing on the fact that this year’s Super Sunday happened to land on Groundhog Day, Jeep paid homage to the comedy classic of the same name, having Bill Murray retrace his steps of a day he actually doesn’t mind repeating thanks to his little rodent pal and trusty Jeep. In addition to its synergy and perfect execution, Jeep played to win by even casting Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned, Ned Reyerson! Leave it to Murray and friends to come out from the shadows and score the best ad of the night.
Low: “Tribute,” Planter’s
After weeks of social media mourning, while we’re thrilled that Plantar’s didn’t kill off the legendary Mr. Peanut for real, we can’t help but feel that the nut company went a little too nuts playing with our fragile hearts. Featuring cameos by the Kool Aid Man and Mr. Clean (amounting to sort of a brand mascot version of The Avengers, yay?), the whole SNAFU was neither funny nor clever. (See: their preview ad featuring Mr. Peanut “dying” in a literal car accident). This is why we have trust issues.
High: “#HowImmuss,” Sabra
Aside from the asinine idea for Sabra to try to get people to call hummus “muss,” this Super spot features such a weird and wide variety of personalities that you can’t help but appreciate its sheer randomness. Boasting reality stars (Terea Guidci of Real Housewives fame), chart topping rappers (Megan Thee Stallion, T-Pain), and even Urkel himself (a.k.a. Jaleel White), the whole affair makes us want to ditch the salsa and reach for the we’ll-never-call-it “muss.”
Low: “Tom Brady’s Big Announcement,” Hulu
Expanding on this year’s obnoxious theme of toying with the general public, this dumbfounding ad for Hulu stems from superstar Tom Brady’s mysterious Instagram post that had many wondering if he was about to (gasp!) retire? Turns out, the whole thing was a farce to raise awareness about the streaming service. It was so meaningless that even Brady interjected a bit too-on-the-nose line reading of, “according to the script they just gave me,” while giving his sales pitch. Not winning the QB any new fans, it all amounts to both a slap in the face and a needless tease for Patriots diehards who actually do care about Brady’s prospects.
High: “Comfortable,” Rocket Mortgage
There’s absolutely nothing more boring than home mortgages, thus making this Rocket Mortgage ad an impressive feat. Starring the famously massive Jason Momoa, the Aquaman actor goofs on his size with this spot that depicts the hunk as being not so brawny when he’s at home with wife Lisa Bonet (who also makes a cameo). The ad also proves that bulging muscles and perfectly flowing locks or not, Momoa would still be a fun hang.
High: “As Good as the Original,” MTN Dew Zero Sugar
Another ad that throws back to an iconic flick, this one is a salute to the 1980 classic The Shining featuring Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross and, well, we’re here for it. While it’s probably a guarantee that director Stanley Kubrick would have immediately shut down the idea of his masterwork being used to sell a carbonated beverage (sugar free, no less!), we hope that he’d at least appreciate the cleverness of subbing in the original film’s memorable shot of a hallway flowing with blood with, well, a toxic-looking green soda.
High: “Next 100,” NFL
While we’re all well aware that the NFL is plenty problematic, this ad celebrating the centennial of the league was undeniably well done. Showcasing a generation-spanning range of football legends — from Jim Brown to Ray Lewis and this year’s SF 49’s star Jimmy Garoppolo — it traces a kid’s steps from the practice field to the Super Bowl, seamlessly ending with the young actor running onto the field during Sunday’s game at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Cheers to the NFL for serving viewers the perfect appetizer to get hyped up to the game itself.
High: “Loretta,” Google
Who knew that Google could make us sob into our chip bowl? This ad, featuring a real life couple whose doting husband is vanishing into memory loss, hit us right in the feels. It was one of the most powerful of the night, an irony considering it was also the simplest. As a result, it’s a lesson that all of the effects and starpower in the world is no match for a powerful idea based in sentimentality.
Low: “#MAKESPACEFORWOMEN,” OLAY
Hat’s off to Olay for this ad that highlights their charitable efforts for a good cause with the #MAKESPACEFORWOMEN hashtag. So, how is it possible that such a worthy message that recruited a host of cameos of beloved female figures is delivered so strangely? From its lightning-fast pace to a nonsensical space-age theme that has nothing to do with the skincare brand (except the fact they hit a button that looks like an Olay canister for some reason), the most cringeworthy part is the ironic sexism, from the ladies accidentally launching themselves into the universe to Lilly Singh’s line, “There is so much space up here!” It all flatly portrays the ignorance that the ad is designed to fight against.
High: “#5GThatWorks,” T-Mobile
While mobile phones made ripe commercial fodder in 2020 (from Martin Scorsese and Jonah Hill’s Coke ad to Snickers’ snicker about autocorrect), it was Anthony Anderson and his real-life mom that made us want to call our own moms — regardless if it’s her birthday or not. From their cute rapport to Mrs. Anderson’s perfect line delivery, there’s no doubt that we would watch every episode of their reality show. Networks, take note!