There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who watch the Super Bowl for the game, and those who watch it for the ads.
(There is a third, those who don’t watch it at all, but that doesn’t suit this narrative.)
At $US5.5 million ($A7.16m) per 30-second slot, those who commit to Super Bowl commercials really commit.
The 55th Super Bowl kicks off about 10.30am AEDT on Monday, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many of the top ads have already been ‘leaked’ ahead of the game start.
(The Chiefs are the favourites and defending champions, even though the game will be played at the Buccaneers’ home stadium, in case you’re interested in the game.)
When it comes to making a Super Bowl commercial stand out, roping in a big-name celebrity is usually the first step.
Then, tap into internet culture/social phenomenon, and you’re half-way there.
Tie it to an ear worm jingle or song, and it’s a home run.
This year, Cheetos is hitting all the targets with its lockdown-flavoured ad.
It stars real-life couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, and features Shaggy.
Set to Shaggy’s hit It Wasn’t Me (which celebrates 20 years since its release), it’s all about Kutcher trying to catch Kunis in the act of eating all the Cheetos.
Super Bowl ads haven’t always been as controversial as the half-time entertainment, but they’ve certainly had their moments.
(General Motors got in trouble in 2007 for throwing a robot worker off a bridge, and Groupon toed the line of racism with Timothy Hutton in tow in 2011.)
This year, don’t expect any controversy – advertisers have already taken a big risk spending a few million dollars in the midst of a pandemic and a recession. They’re not going to risk upsetting the few customers they have left.
The closest we’ll probably get is stock trading app Robinhood, trying to curry favour after the recent GameStop debacle.
From one uncomfortable moment to the next, US gardening giant Scotts & Miracle-Gro enlisted John Travolta to dance like a dag. Weird, considering he’s not bad on the d-floor.
It leaves us not wanting to buy miracle-gro or watch Saturday Night Fever for a very long time.
Dan Levy makes his Super Bowl debut with M&Ms, in a commercial that riffs off the faux pas of 2020 – the superfluous apologising. And interesting move from the Schitt’s Creek wunderkind.
As we saw with Shaggy’s revival earlier, everything old is new again. That apparently includes Doritos trying to bring back the 3D Doritos, which were a blip in the early 2000s chip aisle.
Nevertheless, they’re trying again with the master of reinvention himself, Matthew McConaughey. So far all we’ve seen is teasers of McConaughey’s ‘new look’, but the reveal cracks up Mindy Kalin and Jimmy Kimmel. So it must be alright, alright, alright.
Wayne and Garth make a somewhat cringe-y Wayne’s World comeback, ordering UberEats to watch the sporting event that, for legal reasons, cannot be named. But it’s gigantic. And round-ish.
The unexpected hero of 2020 Dolly Parton makes an appearance for Squarespace, in a nod to the gig economy pivoters of the world. Parton’s hit 9 to 5 becomes 5-to-9 as the working day as we know it continues to evolve. Kinda smart, kinda soul-destroying.
But the cleverest ad has got to go to Amazon, for its cheeky casting as Michael B. Jordan as the embodiment of Alexa, the voice of the fourth-generation Amazon Echo. Enjoy.