2020's Big Game spots were packed to the rafters with comedic celebrity appearances but that doesn't mean there was no emotion, writes LBB's Addison Capper
It's always an interesting task to pick apart the seams of a big event such as the Super Bowl in the hope of spotting the odd trend or two. Super Bowl LIV didn't particularly necessitate a great deal of picking though. The night's ads were a fairly constant stream of celebrity actors starring in comedic campaigns of wildly varying success. This did make me happy. Advertising often seems to lack a sense of humour and seeing so many brands go for it in all manner of forms of comedy was a positive force on the biggest night of the year. Strong, emotive storytelling was still present though (and no, I don't mean in either of the presidential spots that aired).
Check out our top 10 - in no particular order - from the night below.
Jeep - Groundhog Day
Production: O Positive
Director: Jim Jenkins
Bill Murray had never starred in an ad before so convincing him to do so was always going to require something special. Clearly the opportunity to reprise his Groundhog Day character Phil Connors along with his brother Brian Doyle-Murray - who also starred in the film - and other co-stars was too good to pass up. The spot, which was for Jeep, made sense thanks to some handy timing - this year's Super Bowl actually took place on Groundhog Day. But that doesn't make for a guaranteed good ad. This is though thanks to the appearances from the movie's original characters, a seamless tie-in with the Jeep product, and a delivery from agency Highdive and director Jim Jenkins that didn't feel at all forced. It was widely considered one of the best spots of the night and it's difficult to disagree.
Squarespace - Winona in Winona
Production: Anonymous Content
Director: Tim Godsall
Yes, the 30-second spot might not stand out among a crowded field. But as a full campaign the LBB office had a lot of collective love for this, and so it deserves its rightful place in this list. Maybe that’s bending the rules slightly but we have a thing for integrated campaigns, and what? Firstly there's the location. It speaks to a deeply embedded love for old-time Americana and all of the beautiful typography associated with it from years gone by. Kudos to director Tim Godsall for weaving plenty of it into the online short. We’re even tempted by the book that’s being sold as part of the campaign. The dedicated campaign website is genuinely enjoyable too, something I’m not sure I’ve ever meaningfully said about a dedicated campaign website before. Then there's Winona who seems so at ease plodding around her namesake city in a pair of Red Wing boots while snapping analogue photo. Just watching her do so puts us at ease. When we posted the campaign last week we proclaimed it "thoroughly pleasant". And we stand by our admission.
MTN DEW Zero Sugar - As Good as the Original
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day New York
Director: Tom Kuntz
Here's another spot featuring a celebrity re-creating a famous piece of filmmaking. Jack Nicholson's 'Here's Johnny!' line from The Shining is one of the most quotable and iconic scenes in movie history and shoehorning it into a commercial could easily go painfully wrong. Kudos, then, to TBWA\Chiat\Day New York and MJZ's Tom Kuntz for pulling it off. It feels oddly so similar to The Shining but, just, funny. This is a testament to the production team behind it - it's been painstakingly crafted to resemble the original scene. Meanwhile the casting of Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross just works. As good as the original? "Maybe even better."
Dashlane - Password Paradise
Agency: Lightning Orchard
As we’ve already established, this year’s Super Bowl was wall-to-wall celeb, even more so than usual. Which is what makes me like this spot for Dashlane - a company I hadn't heard of until Sunday - even more. It's a concept that we can all relate to - the rage that comes with forgetting a password and the tedious, seemingly endless cycle of random questions to pry your way into your account. Dashlane can apparently prevent all that and portrayed its message brilliantly on the big stage without the help of any celebrity or underlying social purpose. It made me laugh AND informed me of the product. And what more can you ask for than that?
Microsoft - Be the One: Katie Sowers
Agency: McCann New York
Production: Film 47
Director: Peter Berg
Despite the heavy use of the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, this story still manages to be all about Katie Sowers. And so it should. As the offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, Katie would have been disappointed with the result of the game, but her importance on the day went much further than just who won and who didn't. She is the first female coach and openly gay coach to take part in the Super Bowl and McCann New York's decision to focus its Microsoft spot around her is unquestionable.
Google - Loretta
On a night where it felt like almost every brand was prying for lols, Google caught people off guard with the evening's most heartfelt ad. The vast majority of the film's visuals are pieces of Google imagery that most of us are used to seeing everyday but the story that they tell is so much more than the sum of its parts. One intriguing factor is that it doesn't explicitly guide the viewer to a definite conclusion. We discussed in the office whether the elderly man was utilising Google for memories due to something like Alzheimer's or just because it was possible. The open-ended nature of such an emotive piece of film somehow seemed to make it all the more powerful.
Little Caesers - Sliced Bread
How many times have you uttered the words, "the best thing since sliced bread"? Well, spare a thought for The Office US star Rainn Wilson who plays the crest-fallen CEO of Sliced Bread - yes, a big business corporation - in this off-the-wall spot for Little Caesers pizza. When a recipient of a delivered pizza - the new service that this ad is for - declares it better than sliced bread, all employees of Sliced Bread oversee a calamitous series of events as they strive to reattain their title as the 'best thing'. Alas, they fail in their mission and our former CEO must accept a life as a Caesers delivery guy.
Doritos - Bassquake
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
I'm bending the rules a little bit again but stick with me and you'll understand. We're big lovers of Prettybird director Calmatic's promo for Lil Nas X's Old Town Road. It was the first ever music video to pick up an Immortal Award in 2019 and it's on regular rotation in the LBB office. Understandably, we were pretty psyched to hear of the Lil Nas X / Doritos / Old Town Road mashup. The actual Game Day spot is excellent. Sam Elliot's 'tache movements remind us of this iconic Cadbury's ad. But the real goodness here lies with the 60-second teaser that launched prior to Sunday. Sam, decked out in cowboy gear akin to his role in The Big Lebowski and speaking the lyrics to the 2019 tune is an incredibly big mood. And one that I enjoy a lot.
Amazon - #BeforeAlexa
Agency: Droga5 London
Director: Steve Rodgers
Droga5 London's first Super Bowl campaign was big, bold and ambitious. It paid off. The simple idea of imagining life 'Before Alexa' is instantly relatable given our reliance on voice tech for all things from the weather to asking endless, inane questions. Director Steve Rodgers, repped by Somesuch, effortlessly works through eras, managing to keep the viewer easily informed of each scene's whereabouts while still keeping the humour alive. Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi playing themselves add a touch of celebrity sparkle.
Pringles - Rick and Morty
Agency: Grey New York and Adult Swim
Given the joy that Rick and Morty's ventures into endless dimensions brings to a group of staunchly devoted fans, it was only a matter of time before one of those worlds served as the backdrop for a commercial. Doing so on advertising's biggest stage seemed fitting. The spot opens on Rick watching TV with Morty's sister Summer when a spot for Pringles 'flavour stacking' - a common theme in the brand's recent advertising - comes on the screen. After some corporate-heavy spiel from Morty, it comes to fruition that they're stuck in a some kind of dystopian Pringles-dimension-cum-commcercial. The campaign was a neat bit of a teamwork from the hands of Grey New York and Rick and Morty broadcasters Adult Swim.