The five best Super Bowl commercials, from Google's Loretta tribute to that guy's Cheeto fingers
If you only watched the Super Bowl for the commercials, you might have found your attention wandering more to the game this year. Overall, it felt like a weak roster. There were dozens of celebrity cameos -- Ellen for Amazon, Charlie Day for Tide, Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross for Mountain Dew, and Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day" spot, to name a few. But those commercials got a mild chuckle, and it seemed like others relied too heavily on famous faces or '80s/'90s nostalgia to substitute for original, clever jokes. If you wanted to see puppies, you had to flip to the Puppy Bowl. The only cute baby was a reincarnated peanut.
Still, some commercials rose to the top, and not just the funny ones. Here are the ads that impressed us the most.
"Hey, I'm gonna need you to -- never mind," says a young man's boss, noticing his orange cheese-dusted fingertips. Our hero realizes that if he eats the new Cheetos popcorn, he can avoid a number of unpleasant tasks. Moving heavy furniture? Holding babies? Office team-building trust falls? All dodged thanks to his grubby orange fingertips. It's odd that the positive message in a commercial would be "It'll make your fingertips gross," but it's charming from Cheetos. The whole commercial is set to the sound of MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This," and he pops up throughout -- he's especially good as the aforementioned baby. At the end, he emerges from a picnic basket, wearing his signature pants, and hammer dances away with the Cheetos popcorn.
Lil Nas X, right, and Sam Elliott in the Doritos' 2020 Super Bowl NFL football spot. The snack chip is betting people will connect with "Old Town Road," the smash hit of the summer by Lil Nas X.
- Associated Press/Doritos
The astounding success of country trap hit "Old Town Road" made Lil Nas X the most famous cowboy of his generation -- so how delightful that Doritos cast him in their Super Bowl commercial opposite Sam Elliott, one of his generation's most famous cowboys. The two men stare each other down in an actual Cool Ranch, with the song blasting in the background. Lil Nas X wiggles his arms, and Elliott's trademark mustache wiggles right back. Despite Elliott break dancing and slapping his own bottom, Lil Nas X wins the battle. "Who got next?" he asks. We'd like to know, too. But first: Given that Bradley Cooper based his voice in "A Star Is Born" off Elliott's gravelly tone, and that Elliott and Lil Nas X are now friendly, when are we getting Jackson Maine's "Old Town Road" remix?
When this commercial began, no one knew who Loretta was, or why they should care. By the end, many Super Bowl viewers were in tears. It's a simple spot: After searching "How to not forget," an elderly man issues a number of commands to his Google assistant. He asks the device to show him photos of his late wife Loretta, and to remember details like "she loved going to Alaska" and "she always snorted when she laughed."
Google's chief marketing officer wrote that the commercial was inspired by a true story, and voiced by a Google employee's 85-year-old grandfather. At the end, the device scrolls a list of details the man has asked it to remember, such as "Loretta's favorite flowers were tulips," and "Loretta always said, don't miss me too much," interspersed with old photos and videos of Loretta's life. It ends with the man saying, "Remember, I'm the luckiest man in the world," and no, those tears weren't from the onions you were chopping for your halftime guacamole. Sure, there were a few people who couldn't help but make jokes about how Google sold the late Loretta's personal data to advertisers. But for many, the commercial reminded them of their parents' and grandparents' love stories, and the toll that Alzheimer's and dementia take.
Leave it to "Rick and Morty," the Adult Swim cartoon known for its cynicism and for causing a Szechuan sauce fiasco, to poke fun at Super Bowl commercials' most common crutch: celebrity cameos. As Rick and Summer watch a Pringles commercial on television, Summer asks her grandpa, "How much do you think Pringles paid these people?" Morty wanders in, spewing nonsense about stacking different chip varieties, and Rick realizes they're stuck in a spot of their own. The already meta commercial, starring cartoon celebrities critiquing real ones, tacks on yet another layer -- much like the stacked chips Morty won't shut up about. Endless new flavors!
Snickers begins by outlining our current dystopia: Grown men riding scooters, babies named after produce ("Hi, Kale!"), the surveillance state ("I am not spying," says an Alexa-like device). So in an obvious reference to the famous 1971 "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" commercial, the people of the world come together with a plan to bring humankind together and solve our societal ills: They're going to dump a giant Snickers into a huge hole in the ground. Even though they acknowledge that it's a dumb plan, they may be on to something: As two YouTubers film a video at the edge, they fall in, screaming. "The Snickers hole!" calls out one man. "It's working!"