2021 Super Bowl Ads: No Clydesdales, No Problem

In the days and weeks preceding our first (and hopefully last!) pandemic-era Super Bowl, much of the ad world’s focus was on how many big brands would be sitting on the sidelines – primarily to avoid the risk of seeming tone-deaf or alienating consumers after an “unprecedented year” of pandemic, politics, and protests.

So, while knowing that we’d see far fewer commercials with strong PR messages and, sadly, none with Clydesdales (or Clydesdales with puppies!) during a matchup of “the greatest of all time” versus “the greatest of right now,” we watched them all.

From kickoff to kneel-down, here’s how the 89 ads aired over the course of 23 individual ad breaks broke down:

Because we’re suckers for stars, four of our favorites included…

Daveed Diggs and Big Bird singing and strolling through the neighborhood in “The Neighborhood,” from DoorDash:

Will Ferrell heading to Norway in this one from General Motors:

Tracy Morgan explaining why “Certain Is Better” than “pretty sure” on behalf of Rocket Mortgage:

And Jason Alexander showing up on a hoodie (and IRL):

A few of our not-so-favorites were…

Squarespace’s “5 to 9,” in which Dolly Parton highlighted the need for folks to work more than 9-5:

All SEVEN Paramount+ spots, because oh my god how is there another streaming channel?!

And, though Jeep deserves kudos for taking a chance with the one political message aired during the game, “The Middle,” in which a super-somber Bruce Springsteen waxed poetic about fear and America and freedom:

Finally, closing with one that was neither our favorite nor our least favorite, but definitely accomplished the goal of being memorable – aka making us all say “huh?”…

We can’t resist mentioning Oatly’s big spot:

Here’s to next year!

Visit our Deep Ads Thoughts blog to learn more about current advertising, marketing, and public relations tips and trends. Plus, check out our Push n’ Pull blog for all things in the world of digital and social media.

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