Creatives share their top picks from Super Bowl LV

From funny to poignant, creatives share which ads they loved and which ones fell flat on Super Bowl Sunday.

Campaign US caught up with industry creatives on their hits and misses after the biggest branding night of the year.

Julia Neumann, executive creative director, TBWA\Chiat\Day NY

Pick: General Motors’ ‘Will Ferrell Hates Norway’; Paramount’s ‘Frostbite’

It’s hard to hate anything that has Will Ferrell in it, except Norway. Thanks to GM, we now all know why. This ad was legitimately insightful, funny and charming — Super Bowl storytelling at its finest. 

Weird and funny is a magical combo. And that’s great to see at the Super Bowl. All the paramount commercials made me giggle, for all the right copywriting reasons. Frostbite was my favorite, not only because it had Spock in it, but mostly because he actually suggested puppet arm amputation. 

Al Merry, executive creative director, TBWA\Chiat\Day

Pick: Paramount’s ‘A Mountain of Entertainment’  

This ad makes you look at an old brand in a new way and breathes life into the Corporation. Idea-wise, it was simple and grand enough for the big stage, and it entertained, as it said it would. It felt well assembled and tidily executed. The sparing use of characters like Beavis and Butthead was a nice show of creative restraint.

John Norman, chief creative officer, Havas Chicago 

Pick: Anheuser-Busch’s ‘Let’s Grab a Beer’

What I loved about this ad was that it was so authentic in how it captured the need for connection that the beer brand didn’t even matter. The takeaway was a clear message about uniting over a beer – in personal and professional situations, or happy and sad moments.  

We can all relate to sharing a story, a laugh or even a cry while having a beer. The lack of connection in our lives today made this ad even more relevant and timely.

Dan Lucey, chief creative officer, Havas New York

Picks: Reddit’s 5-second spot; Mountain Dew’s ‘Major Melon’ 

There was something very familiar about this year's Super Bowl. Tom Brady led his team to a win, and we saw lots of commercials featuring celebrities, painting within the lines of what a Super Bowl commercial should be.  

But, the ads that took a chance and tried something new were the true standouts. I loved how Reddit bought a 5-second spot that was impossibly long to read, betting consumers would seek it out or pause the game to catch it. From the early buzz on social media, they were successful.  

I also enjoyed Mountain Dew’s approach. By offering $1 million to whoever tweeted the correct number of Major Melon bottles in the spot, they guaranteed repeat watching. 

The one stand out for me in a negative way was the off-tone spot for Cure Car Insurance. I was surprised that they decided to make light of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Mike Groenewald, group creative director, Chemistry 

Picks: Fiverr’s ‘Opportunity Knocks’; Jeep’s “ReUnited States of America”; Reddit’s 5-second spot  

Fiverr’s spot featuring Four Seasons Landscaping was so on point, turning a cultural meme into a small business champion commercial for freelancers. Really great for a super bowl rookie. 

Jeep’s ad was bold and, as expected, a little polarizing. But the message was strong and the commercial was well produced. That said, it still felt like it missed the mark just a little.

In the wake of last week’s GameStop debacle, Reddit’s 5-second super bowl spot featuring a Reddit post about the power of the underdog was really smart, super simple and something only Reddit could do. Long live the underdog.

Humor, humor and humor with a sprinkle of emotion was the overall tone from this year’s commercials. 2020 was a brutal year, and we all need a good dose of humor. In trying to pull off large-scale productions during a pandemic, it’s amazing we even had a full roster of commercials.

Judy John, global chief creative officer, Edelman

Picks: Toyota's 'Upstream'; Huggies 'Welcome to the World, Baby'

Watching the Super Bowl commercials is like watching the Oscars; jammed packed with celebrities, mostly a blur and you just want to fast forward and get to who won. But with over a 100 million people watching and all the hype, it’s irresistible.

But the ads I’ll remember in a month and talk about with people outside of advertising are Toyota, which was an incredible story and visually unforgettable; and Huggies, which had insight and hilarious writing, but the direction and editing makes it.

Katrina Michie, associate creative director, Duncan Channon  

Picks: Amazon’s “Alexa’s Body”; Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade’s 'Last Year's Lemons'; Squarespace’s ‘5 to 9’

Amazon’s Alexa ad starring Micahel B. Jordan was a funny and interesting example of what happens when we flip the typical female objectification. 

I really enjoyed the Bud Light Lemonade Seltzer ad because it was able to tie the terrible year we’ve had to the product in a humorous way. I wouldn’t have expected an ad that acknowledges the horribleness of the past year to be both successful and funny. 

Squarespace’s ‘5 to 9’ ad was a smart way to use Dolly Parton. In spite of valid criticism about expecting people to work a side hustle, I appreciated the cleverness of having a universally beloved celebrity rewrite one of her most known songs in a memorable way.

The NFL ad fell flat based on the fact that Colin Kaepernick still isn’t playing football. It’s a good example of why so many brands decided not to make a statement. If your actions go against what you’re commercials say you care about, the message won’t resonate.

I would have loved to see more representation of women and people of color as directors. The industry needs to think about more than casting. When the creators are truly diverse in thought, background and experiences, the ads are so much more resonant and impactful.

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