"The times they are a-changin'?" Or, "what a long, strange trip it's been?"
Pick a classic lyric, but together the two embrace the spirit of 2021's Super Bowl LV commercials.
Here's the strange: The best commercial — an extended cut of T-Mobile's Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski one — didn't even air because CBS said it violated a "protected rights deal" with NFL's official telecom sponsor, Verizon.
Then, there were all those ads about the New World Order (electric cars, cryptocurrency, personal assistants, food delivery/takeout services and trips to outer space) and for companies no one's ever heard of (Klarna, Dr. Squatch, Fiverr, Mercari). Until now, anyway.
As always, humor was big but mostly just strained notes played against the background of the year everyone would rather forget. The rare quasi-political, or pro-social, ad had the sort of sanitized, let's-forget-what-just-happened message that sidestepped why it needed to be addressed in the first place. Better safe than sorry.
So, a good year or bad? Let's go to the do-dah man on that one. Keep on truckin.' There's always 2022.
When locals in Blue Hill, Nebraska, spotted Bruce Springsteen recently, they figured he wasn't there to take in the sights. Soon word got out, and so did the ad. Springsteen doesn't do ads, and this one can't rightly be called one either. Bruce is seen praying at the chapel that never sleeps, in Lebanon, Kansas, open all year, in the geographic center of the United States. The surrounding land is cold, sere, the horizon goes on forever. Then that voice — that most famous of voices — which says "it's no secret the middle has been a hard place to get to recently. … " The Boss, if anyone, is the guy to get us there. And he does.
Arriving early, " 'Twas the Night" got the party started, with a Marshawn Lynch spoken-word (umm) rewording of the Clement Clarke Moore chestnut, complete with (umm) visitations from Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Jerome Bettis and Deion Sanders. Best of all, the Mannings — Eli, Peyton and Archie — were here. (Except Cooper. Too bad.)
Of all the major spots that went for nostalgia — most notably, "ScissorHandsFree," for Cadillac's all-electric LYRIQ — this one worked best. Fast and funny, it reminded us why we laughed at "Wayne's World" all those years ago by making us laugh all over again, including with a bonus Cardi B cameo. The "ScissorhandsFree" (with Timothée Chalamet and Winona Ryder) was maybe not the ideal moment to invoke Johnny Depp.
Huggies? Yeah, Huggies, beginning with "Welcome to the world, baby," followed by the supercuts … of babies: Clean babies, dirty babies, funny babies, messy babies, smelly babies. The full cut is terrific.
Rockville Centre-raised Amy Schumer turns up as the fairy godmayo of "creamy, dreamy" mayonnaise, or something like that. Who can remember! Who should? But this one was a winner, especially for all of us who love mayonnaise (specifically, this brand).
Imagine a field full of traveling desks with computer monitors on each of them, when one of those desks abruptly stops to address the camera: "In some places they tax flatulence, the kind that comes from cows." Someone did imagine all this — which is just unimaginable.
"In the Romo household, we take things to the max," explains former Dallas quarterback and CBS NFL host, Tony Romo, who punctuates this observation with a "BAMM!!" The Romos love tall sandwiches … tall beds … monster wheels … and Skecher's footwear. ("BAMM …!") And I love ads so ineffably awful that I can't wait to tell you about them. BAMMM!
The perfect example of a good message diminished — then demolished — by the visuals. Paralympian Jessica Long "swims upstream" through life, but not content with a metaphoric upstream swim, the commercial decides to actually have her swim upstream, including through the family kitchen which appears to be flooded under a couple of inches of water.
This could almost work as a treatment for a comic-horror flick — not a good flick, either — but what this really fails to do is answer questions, like the most obvious one: What self-respecting teen walks around with a huge print of Jason Alexander's face on his sweatshirt?
Everyone had a bad 2020 — we get it (we were there) — but to reduce it to a lemon pandemic? Real lemons drop out of the sky, ruining weddings, toppling bikers, pummeling buildings (while Kitty Kallen's old standard, "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I Love You" is tracking) is just plain … BAMM!