Let’s face it. For marketers, Christmas is extra special and it comes on Super Bowl day. Companies and agencies plan and strategize all year, create award-winning commercials and pay as much as $5.6 million per 30 seconds of prime time airing.
They do it for their audiences, and they end up inspiring even the tiniest marketing intern in the corner.
We binged on every commercial and hosted our own festival. In the end, we managed to have a top 10 Super Bowl 2020 commercials that I’ll now approach from the people behind the scenes perspective.
Just to clear the air: if you didn’t see it yet, start with the half time show. Or better yet, check out the 2022 Super Bowl ads.
Google – Loretta
Ready to tear up? Friendly advice: if you don’t want to be seen crying, we suggest watching this ad in private. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Here’s the deal: an elderly man interacts with Google Assistant to bring up memories of his late wife, Loretta. He starts by typing “how to not forget” on Google, as we all search for various how-to’s. Pretty relatable, right?
Google’s 90-second ad walks you through a carousel of emotions, as the man pulls up old photos and videos of his wife and their past vacations, he remembers that she always snorted when she laughed and that she hated his mustache. Google Assistant replies, “OK, I’ll remember that.” We think it’s safe to say we’ll all remember that, Google.
Ahh, that little town off the coast of Juneau! It’s the little things that make us happy, right? Well, in this case — that make us shed a tear. Google’s ad is one of the few that doesn’t use humor or celebrities this year. “The ad reflects our goal to build products that help people in their daily lives, in both big and small ways,” said Lorraine Twohill, chief marketing officer at Google. The company added that an internal team at Google Creative Lab “conceptualized, animated and edited this commercial. No external agencies or directors were involved.”
Agency: Google Creative Lab
Mountain Dew – Zero Sugar. As Good As The Original
Soooo, for this year’s Super Bowl, Mountain Dew decided to not only tell the audience that their Zero Sugar product is as good as the original but to show them. They chose to illustrate the concept by reimagining the famous scene from “The Shining” known as “Here’s Johnny”. The difference? Bryan Cranston instead of Jack Nickolson and Tracee Ellis Ross instead of Shelley Duvall. Plus a plot twist of course. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I’m guessing you’re not necessarily expecting the actual horror-scene.
In a press release before Super Bowl, the company shared a quote from Erin Chin, Senior Director in Marketing at Mountain Dew: “DEW launched a Zero Sugar product for the first time ever this January and we’re using our Super Bowl spot to tell fans it’s ‘As Good As the Original, Maybe Even Better.’ We partnered with two major Hollywood actors to help us tell that story on one of the world’s biggest stages… We hope fans will enjoy the unexpected humor and fantastic casting of Tracee and Bryan.”
The ad is a spoof/parody so treat it as such. Also, please don’t watch it at full volume.
Agency: TBWA Chiat Day
Client: MTN Dew
Jeep – Groundhog Day
Do you know what just happened? Except for Shakira and J. Lo. surprising us with their half time show. Groundhog Day fell on the same day as Super Bowl! So Jeep decided to re-enact the painful time loop Bill Murray lived in the notorious movie with the same name. Except for this time, he has a new friend: a Jeep Gladiator pick up.
The one-minute ad brings back a lot of memories for all classic films lovers. We get the chance to see some of the original characters, a couple of original locations from the movie, all tuned in by I’ve Got You Babe by Sonny & Cher.
“In my wildest dreams, any advertiser’s dream, really, could you dare to believe that Bill Murray would agree to be in your Super Bowl commercial, and on top of that, ask him to relive his iconic role in Groundhog Day?” said Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer of FCA declared for AdWeek.
“This is my first commercial. I’m glad I did it with Jeep. And I’m glad that this is my last commercial, as well.” said Murray.
Amazon – #BeforeAlexa
Have you ever wondered what life was like before technology? For this year’s Super Bowl, Amazon imagined a world before Alexa with an ad featuring Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi. This laugh-filled commercial steps back in time, when people didn’t exactly have the possibility of asking smart devices to play their favorite music.
From Victorian England, the Elizabethan times, the Old West and the Middle Ages all the way up to the Nixon era, the ad shows people’s life without the voice assistant Alexa. Apart from being hilarious, “Amazon took advantage of a celebrity with engaging creative to communicate what was really a product demonstration,” said Derek D. Rucker, Sandy & Morton Goldman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies in Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Amazon is the big winner in strategic ad rankings with its “#BeforeAlexa” ad in the 16th consecutive Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review. Chapeau!
Agency: Droga5 London
Rick and Morty x Pringles
The Pringles ad was a really nice surprise, to be honest. Most of Reddit, including myself, really appreciated the brand’s effort to get into what the fans truly love. Making a commercial in the format of a mini-episode from the Rick and Morty show was risky. But the fact that Pringles assumed the risk of making a weird commercial and putting an auto ironic spin to it, only made the fans love it even more.
The reason this has been so well received is that brands tend to be wary of partnerships and extremely protective of the way their identity will be illustrated. Pringles embracing the essence of the Rick & Morty show gained respect and admiration. Also, fans want to see more. The commercial ends in the middle of the plot so the audience definitely wants to know how it ends. What more could you want from an ad?
The great news is that it seems the audience will get what it wants from Jill King’s statement (senior vice president, marketing and partnerships, Adult Swim): “Not only are the Rick and Morty show creators making a hilarious spot for the Big Game, we’re extending this partnership in really exciting ways, all year long. Rick and Morty fans are going to be given amazing new opportunities to illustrate their love for this iconic show, thanks to Pringles.”
Agency: Grey Group
Snickers – Fix The World
Snickers took all the cliches that summed up the last decade and found the cure for them: yes, the world can be cured with a huge Snickers bar. Right in time to celebrate 10 years of “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign, the brand cynically approached modern problems like men riding scooters, people naming their children after products, and milk getting reinvented. Stars aligned for a lot of brands this year, too bad I’m not good with numbers.
Josh Olken, Brand Director, SNICKERS, recently declared to The Drum that filming was “interesting,” and said, “… you have to tell each one of these stories super fast and telegraphically… We spent a lot of time as we were developing the creative figuring out what were the best things that people would identify, ultimately getting to things like people riding scooters, texting dirty pictures – the kinds of things that are just out there in the ether that we thought everyone would be able to relate to across a really broad audience.”
Well, you made it. I related to every scene.
Client: Mars Chocolate
Bud Light Seltzer – #PostyStore & #PostyBar – Inside Post’s Brain
We would have never thought we’d get inside Post Malone’s brain, but Bud Light made it possible. This year’s Super Bowl spot features the American rapper entering a convenience store and trying to figure out which to buy – regular Bud Light beers, or the new Bud Light Seltzers. That’s when we get the amazing opportunity to see inside Post Malone’s brain, aaand it’s operated by a group of mini, tattooed people. Wait, what?
There’s more. The two main brain operators start arguing over whether or not Post should buy the seltzers instead of the beer. Let’s just say things go wild, as Post loses control of his arms and legs and starts bashing into shelves. The operators eventually realize that Post Malone is “incredibly rich” and can afford both Bud Light and Bud Light Seltzers. Problem solved. ”Got any pretzels?”
The second Bud Light Seltzer ad features another hilarious battle between the brain control operators. This time, Post Malone is in a bar and gets to try a mango-flavored Bud Light Seltzer. The decision that needs to be taken now is whether Post likes the drink or not. Tough one. Watch the commercial to see what happens. It’s mangolicious.
“Many people may have never tried a hard seltzer, so by placing the Bud Light name on it, it brings with it the quality credentials of our beer,” Bud Light’s marketing vice-president Andy Goeler said, according to Market Watch.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
Client: Bud Light
Rocket Mortgage with Jason Momoa
WARNING: If you’re a Jason Momoa fan, the following images can be disturbing so please play the video at your own risk.
Rocket Mortgage wanted to illustrate that a good home is one where you can be yourself. They figured the best way to showcase that is by ruining Jason Momoa for all of us. I’m kidding, he remains the same god-like celebrity, but in this video, you’ll see a bald & skinny version of Jason.
To help put fans’ minds at ease after the commercial, the company also released a behind the scenes video showing how Jason is still Jason.
They also released a teaser before the actual Super Bowl which was funny but did not prepare us for what was next. Not the slightest. Jokes aside, fans absolutely loved this ad. There’s just something about celebrities looking human and vulnerable that brings us joy.
Another cool fact to know is that this was Quicken Loans’ first project with High Dive which came up with the idea of partnering with Momoa originally, according to Quicken Loans CMO Casey Hurbis.
“They pitched us this idea very early on with Jason in it; we fell in love,” he said. When the company reached out to Momoa, he also “fell in love” with the idea, according to Hurbis.
Agency: High Dive
Client: Rocket Mortgage Quicken Loans
Walmart – Famous Visitors
Walmart proved that repurposing ideas is not that bad after all. Last year, they introduced their store pick up service at Golden Globe awards, reuniting some of the best cars in the pop culture. And they didn’t stop here. For Super Bowl 2020, they brought together some of the best sci-fi heroes that apparently need a thing or two from Walmart.
Vehicles like Cinderella’s pumpkin, DeLorean time machine, and Ecto-1, Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy make an appearance to pick up their special order. R2-D2 and C-3P0 are also involved, though they are lost again. Too bad, their I-Robot is waiting.
“What better way to show off the out-of-this-world convenience of Walmart’s Pickup service than the biggest television event of the year! For the first time ever, Walmart will be airing an ad during the Big Game with the help of some familiar visitors,” said Janey Whiteside, EVP and Walmart Chief Customer Officer when she announced the commercial.
Porsche – The Heist
There’s been a lot of car commercials this year, but I couldn’t include all of them here. So here’s what Porche did for their new Taycan electric. The ad starts with the Taycan being stolen from an exhibition and then being followed by a plethora of racecars like the 911 Carrera S and the 917K.
The streets of Stuttgart have never looked more beautiful, revealing the transition from a long-history of racecars to the new and futuristic electric ones, all with the help of the Porsche Museum.
“We have a lot of experience preparing historic vehicles for all kinds of operations but driving a 917 through the center of Stuttgart, at night, was a first even for us,” stated Alexander Klein, head of vehicle management and heritage experience at the Porsche Museum.
If you liked this commercial (I mean, who didn’t?), here’s also the behind the scenes of it.
What a blast! We laughed, we cried, we got our pulse racing. I think we got enough inspiration for another year and we’re good to come back to work now.
And just in case you want to see more, here’s the top 10 Super Bowl commercials from 2019. You’ll see how trends changed from one year to another.