The Super Bowl 2021 commercials gave us the same mix of ads we always expect: movie characters returned in wrinklier forms to sell products, inspirational ads instead came across as patronising, and celebrities were everywhere. Even if the world outside looks very different in 2021 than it did during last year's Super Bowl, the ads don't tend to tell that story.
Below, we've rounded up basically all of the Super Bowl commercials released this year, with pithy (and often scathing) commentary for each one, as well as a little bit of rare praise when we've watched one we actually enjoyed. Overall, most of these were pretty embarrassing – particularly the Jeep one, which we'll get to below.
Ready? Let's binge some capitalism, baby!
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier trailer
Well, this one's a nice, easy sell. A whole year after we got our first look at this Captain America spin-off show at the Super Bowl, this time we get a much more comprehensive look at the series that'll see Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their respective roles as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. We also get to hear from Daniel Brühl's Helmut Zemo, last seen in Captain America: Civil War. This six-part series kicks off on March 19.
Based on an excellent old French graphic novel called Sandcastle, director M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Split) uses that book as inspiration for this horror movie. The book is about a trip to an island where its residents age so fast they only live for a day. Gael García Bernal and Eliza Scanlen star in this movie, which is due to release in July this year.
Finally, it's Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk's turn to be an action hero, in this comedy releasing in early April. What if a dad totally lost his shit? That's seemingly the basic plot, here. It's written by John Wick's Derek Kolstad, and comes from Hardcore Henry director Ilya Naishuller.
Klarna, 'The Four Quarter-Sized Cowboys'
Good lord, has an advert ever worked harder to make multiple payments after purchase look fun? Maya Rudolph appears in this commercial four times for the Swedish finance company. Here's an interesting FT piece (opens in new tab) if you want to learn more about Klarna in the UK.
M&Ms, 'Come Together'
This generally inoffensive ad features a whole host of people apologizing with M&Ms, including Schitt's Creek's Dan Levy, who just hosted Saturday Night Live over the weekend. We're also reminded that being called 'Karen' is a fraught business in 2021.
Toyota, 'Jessica Long's Story'
Super Bowl commercials tend to have three angles to choose from: funny (or at least an attempt to be funny), annoying or inspirational. This one goes for the latter, focusing on the story of Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long, who has won 23 medals at the games to date.
TurboTax, 'Spreading Tax Expertise Across the Land'
Ah, now we're firmly back in the territory of 'attempts to be funny', in this commercial that focuses on the idea that tax expertise can be obtained no matter where you're living in the United States. How wonderful.
Mercari, 'Get Your Unused Things Back in the Game'
This blink-and-you'll-miss-it spot is a reminder that you can use an app to offload your old junk, if you've turned into a bit of a hoarder during the pandemic. Still, if you want to keep a stack of old magazines in your attic, that's up to you.
Robinhood, 'We are all investors'
Stock trading and investing app Robinhood surely couldn't have envisioned the GameStop situation happening back when it booked this ad. If you hadn't heard of Robinhood before then, that surely did the job – this advert makes the company's point that anyone can be an investor. Including, we hope, the dog featured at the start of this trailer.
Logitech, 'Defy Logic'
Logitech showcases Lil Nas X and a host of 'content creators' in this video, which, every now and then, reminds you that the company makes PC peripherals. This one's perfectly fine – and if you're a fan of Lil Nas X, this features a little sample of his new song, 'Call Me By Your Name'.
Tide, 'The Jason Alexander Hoodie'
This is one of the better 'funny' Super Bowl 2021 commercials, featuring a still image (and eventual cameo appearance) from Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander. You can actually win the hoodie, if you live in the US – Tide is giving a few of them away (opens in new tab). In retrospect, we're surprised there was never a Seinfeld episode about George Costanza wearing a hoodie featuring a giant picture of his own face.
Vroom, 'Dealership Pain'
Wow, this ad sure likes to dunk on car dealerships, depicting a man about to literally be tortured just because he wants to call his partner about buying a vehicle. Oh, but hey! Vroom will sell you a car without making you interact with a dealer. Isn't that nice of them?
Jimmy John's, 'Meet the King'
That deep-voiced guy from Everybody Loves Raymond stars in this organized crime-themed advert about a sandwich overlord being muscled out by Jimmy John's own selection of fine eats. The Sandwich Wars have begun, apparently. Whoever loses, we win?
Dr Squatch, 'You're Not a Dish'
This male-targeted soap features a shirtless man with a beard rubbing himself down. Yep, that sure sounds like a Super Bowl ad. The soap is made with natural ingredients, apparently, and we appreciate that this commercial is at least ironic about trying to sell soap to 'manly' men, who really should just wash themselves anyway without further encouragement.
Hellmann's, 'Fairy Godmayo'
Amy Schumer's Fairy Godmayo is here to judge your choice of condiments in this Super Bowl commercial. Watch how some mayonnaise can magically transform a handful of ingredients into a nice little dinner party. Still, you can joke all you want, but Hellmann's is a legit lifesaver when all you have in the cupboard is a few tins of tuna and some increasingly hard bread.
Huggies, 'Welcome to the World, Baby'
Huggies has got your fresh baby content right here, as this commercial depicts a bunch of newly-born children, and welcomes them to Earth (but also, buy some nappies perhaps?). Hey, maybe Richard Linklater should make a film about their lives over the next 18 years.
Pringles, 'Flavor Stacking Space Return'
Many Pringles flavors get advertised in this elaborate advert, which, to be honest, we didn't laugh at. Astronauts return from space, only to find that NASA (or its legally acceptable equivalent for this commercial) eats Pringles now instead of doing space stuff. Meanwhile, a passing ship also ignores the astronauts, presumably leaving them to their deaths. Top stuff.
Uber Eats, 'Wayne's World & Cardi B's Shameless Manipulation'
Super Bowl ads love to bring back old TV and movies characters you like just to sell stuff – and here Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reprise their roles as Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World as much older men, for the purposes of reminding you that an app on your phone can get burgers and the like delivered to your house from local restaurants. Cardi B also appears.
Reddit, 'Sorry we crashed your SuperbOwl party'
You can watch this one here (opens in new tab). In a number of markets in the US, Reddit bought an ad discussing what its communities can achieve when they put their minds to it – alluding to the GameStop stock saga, a moment of catharsis for people who wanted to see hedge funds take a beating.
Cheetos, 'It Wasn't Me'
Depending on your mileage with Shaggy, this is arguably one of the better Super Bowl ads this year. Real-life couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher feature in this one, where Kunis employs the services of Shaggy's song 'It Wasn't Me' to deflect accusations of eating some snacks, as the musician mediates the situation. Capitalism, eh. What a ride.
Talk about go big or go home. Like Wayne's World, this revives a classic movie for the purposes of selling stuff, casting Timothée Chalamet as Edgar Scissorhands, son of Edward, with Winona Ryder reprising her role from the film. It's actually pretty great, and looks film-quality, even if it took the sheer force of commerce to make it happen.
Squarespace, '5 to 9 by Dolly Parton'
Website specialists Squarespace manage to get Dolly Parton to re-record her classic '9 to 5' song in order to sell people on the magic of following your dreams. This is a nice ad. How can you be mad at Dolly, eh?
NFL, 'As One'
Green Bay packers coach Vince Lombardi returns from the dead with a message of union in this ad from NFL itself. Actor Russ Hutchison plays Lombardi, who died back in 1970, and seems very proud about that fact on his Twitter page (opens in new tab).
Anheuser-Busch, Let's Grab a Beer
Director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club), who's responsible for a bunch of iconic ads, is behind this beer commercial which promotes beer-themed unity. Fincher's frequent collaborator Atticus Ross apparently provided the music for this one, too.
Jeep, 'The Middle'
Bruce Springsteen stars in this Jeep commercial, which carries the awkward message of trying to make people meet in the 'middle', mentioning that it's been tough to do of late. "It's no secret. The middle has been a hard place to get to lately. Between red and blue, between serving and citizen." Maybe that's why it's been downvoted 4000 times on YouTube. The best user comment says, "this is what happens when Michael Scott starts a sentence".
If anything can 'reunite' America, surely it's a Jeep commercial?
T-Mobile, 'Adam Levine Sets Up Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton'
This fun-ish commercial explores the fictional origins of how No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and polite country music man Blake Shelton started dating. Apparently, Maroon 5's Adam Levine is to thank for that. Is there anything he can't do?
Mountain Dew, 'MTN DEW MAJOR MELON Bottle Count'
A very lean John Cena stars in this commercial for the melon-favored version of the beverage, which invites viewers to count the number of bottles of the drink shown in the commercial. Whoever's correct could win a million dollars. Honestly, we'd rather not have the million and get the time back.
Fiverr, 'Opportunity Knocks'
"It's not too late to make Four Seasons Total Landscaping jokes, right?" is a question posed by this commercial, which advertises small business platform Fiverr, and showing how the fortunes of the business have changed since Trump's press conference goof.
Amazon, 'Alexa's Body'
What if Alexa looked and sounded exactly like actor Michael B Jordan? It would create some not-insignificant relationship problems, according to this fun ad for Amazon's smart speaker range.
Michelob ULTRA, 'Happy'
Athletes like Peyton Manning and Serena Williams pop up in this commercial, which ponders whether happiness is caused by winning, or if winning results in happiness. Honestly, Michelob ULTRA, our take on this is that it probably depends on the person in question. Does that help at all?
Skechers, 'Tony Romo for Skechers Max Cushioning'
Football guy Tony Romo and his wife Candice team up for this sneaker commercial. What if your shoes were full of additional cushioning? What if you ate a tall sandwich? These are the questions posed by this ad that left no impression on us whatsoever.
WeatherTech, 'WeatherTech Family Super Bowl Commercial 2021'
While this ad doesn't make it entirely clear what WeatherTech actually does, isn't it nice all those employees for the car accessories company are having such a great time doing their jobs? It's nice to just get a breather from celebrities selling stuff during the big game.
Paramount Plus, 'Sweet Victory'
This star-studded commercial advertises the upcoming rebranding of CBS All Access, Paramount Plus, which which will be the future home of all Star Trek TV shows in the US. Finally, the big guns come out in the form of Spongebob Squarepants, who'll feature heavily on the platform.
Indeed, 'The Rising'
This advert goes for hopeful but ends up landing on depressing, for us – especially with so many industries unfairly hit by the pandemic over the past year. Still, at least it doesn't feature a celebrity goofing off. Speaking of which...
State Farm Insurance, 'Drake From State Farm'
Paul Rudd and the real Drake appear in this commercial for insurance, which also features football players Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers (who we definitely know everything about). Imagine Drake working at State Farm and selling insurance! What a time to be alive.
Scotts & Miracle-Gro, 'Keep Growing'
This star-studded commercial for lawn-related products features a surprising number of cameos, including Martha Stewart and The Office's Leslie David Baker. This advertises a campaign to give 42 winners a bunch of money and a consultation with a gardening expert. John Travolta also turns up to do a dance.
Bud Light Seltzer, 'Last Year's Lemons'
This take on the old adage 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade' is definitely one of the stronger ads at 2021's Super Bowl, with its Magnolia-esque image of lemons raining down from the sky reminding us of what a hard time 2020 was for basically everyone. That sure was a year we lived through. Still, we're not convinced that drinking Bud will make our lives any happier.
Dexcom, 'Official Big Game Commercial 2021 with Nick Jonas'
Handsome Disney Channel-grown lad Nick Jonas – himself living with Type-1 diabetes – advertises this wearable, which monitors your glucose using an app without the need for pricking your finger. That sounds useful, for those living with a similar condition.
Chipotle, 'Can a Burrito Change the World?'
A young boy ponders how a burrito can change the world in this ad for Chipotle, which is advertising the company's commitment to Food with Integrity, which includes committing $5 million to the "next generation of farmers" over the coming five years. That sounds nice.
Numerous 'legends', including Post Malone, team up to restore Bud Light to stores after an unspecified incident leaves a truck full of the beer tipped over. We'd probably have just suggested the two customers pick up a crate of Sierra Nevada pale ales instead.
General Motors, 'No Way Norway'
Will Ferrell stars in this commercial with Awkwafina and Kenan Thompson, which suggests (the horror!) that America might not be as good as another country at owning electric vehicles. Ferrell then heads to Norway, for some reason, with his new celebrity pals.
Inspiration4, 'Join the First All-Civilian Space Mission'
Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, this commercial advertises the Inspiration4 mission into orbit due to take place next year. Billionaire Jared Isaacman is giving away two seats to people who either donate to St Jude or set up their own store on a Shift4Shop platform. Here's the site if you're, er, interested in going into space.
DoorDash, 'The Neighborhood'
Sesame Street characters and Hamilton's Daveed Diggs team up for this ad, which is for food delivery app DoorDash. Even Cookie Monster makes an appearance, and the ad says a dollar will be donated to the Sesame Workshop from each order, which is probably no big deal to a company worth tens of billions of dollars.
Doritos 3D, 'Flat Matthew'
Experience the body horror of a 2D Matthew McConaughey turning 3D again in this good-natured but mildly disturbing commercial, which also briefly co-stars Mindy Kaling and Jimmy Kimmel. How did he get 2D in the first place? Is the real Matthew McConaughey still trapped in a vending machine? These are two of the questions we have after watching whatever this thing was.
Oatly, 'Wow wow no cow'
Oatly advertises its range of dairy-free beverages in this brain-melting ditty of a song. This one's more annoying than anything – but it's among the more notable choices this year because it actually aired in Oatly's native Sweden back in 2014, according to Ad Age. This was just an import for the 2021 Super Bowl.
When Universal delayed Fast and Furious 9 by a year at the start of the 2020 pandemic, some wondered if that was a little too extreme. Now, that May 28 release date almost feels a little too soon. Still, fans will no doubt be pleased to get a quick 30-second look at Dominic Toretto and company, including John Cena's Jakob, a new addition to the franchise who's apparently Dom's long-lost brother. Sure, why not.
Rocket Mortgage, 'Certain is Better'
Only in America would a mortgage commercial feature Tracy Morgan in the bath and a dad being forced to fight Dave Bautista in some kind of Fight Club scenario. 'Certain is Better' certainly gives us the urge to start a 30 Rock marathon again, anyway.
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