Best and worst Super Bowl commercials 2021: Ranking the ads, including Cheetos, Jeep and more – The Athletic

A good Super Bowl commercial — a good commercial, period — does four things well: It’s funny, it’s memorable, it compels you to buy the product, and it leaves you with a more favorable view of the brand.

Jake Ciely has been fantasy baseball’s top ranker twice and fantasy football’s top ranker once. But does that apply to commercials? We’re about to find out.

Feel free to dump on poor Jakey in the comments. He has very strong feelings on some of these. Important note: Movie trailers don’t count. Apologies, but that’s a different category and we can’t go there.

(And hey, if you love rankings — and who doesn’t? — check out our 2021 fantasy baseball, updated fantasy basketball and “way too early” fantasy football rankings)

The Top 10 Super Bowl commercials

1. GM: No Way Norway

Will Ferrell, Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina make this pretty good, especially Ferrell, but it’s the Scandinavian stinger joke that really got me laughing. I’m declaring this The Best Commercial of the Night.

Nando: I can’t disagree. This was fantastic.

2. Frito Lay: Super Bowl

So this might sit at No. 1 all night! Nope. But it was fun while it lasted! This spot aired before the game even started. Marshawn Lynch. Peyton Manning. Could have sat there silent for 30 seconds and been terrific. Simply amazing. “Don’t be scared of the ball,” and “C’mon, we’re friends,” were great with Lynch narration topping it all.

3. Cheetos: It Wasn’t Me

Okay, I immediately knew this was going and laughed … immediately. I’m an Ashton Kutcher fan, and the new lyrics and ending (won’t spoil the joke)… very well done.

Nando: I liked the Flat Matthew one so much better.

4. Doritos 3D: Flat Matthew

This has crazy “Twilight Zone” vibes, mixed with Judge Doom from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” And it works! It’s funny, it’s memorable — the coffee shop scene where he’s initially invisible is fantastic. I assume this will be many people’s favorite commercial this year. Even the disclaimer, “Do not attempt if you’re a 3D person,” was subtly funny.

People’s Choice — Jeep featuring Bruce Springsteen

As much as we love our Frito-Lay brands and Will Ferrell, we cannot deny that the rest of the world loves the Bruce Springsteen commercial. Perhaps a little too much, but who are we to judge? We’re awarding this our First Annual People’s Choice Super Bowl Commercial Award For Excellence (PCSBCAFE). Congratulations, Jeep!

5. M&M’s: Sorry

Mocking gender reveals, “Karen” and more, this was pretty good. Not top of the heap, but good for a laugh.

Nando adds: We (my wife and I, not Jake and I) finally caved and started watching “Schitt’s Creek” — with everyone selling it warning you have to get through the first two seasons until it gets really good — and I have to say I get the hype. It’s “Parks & Rec”-sy. I just hope Eugene Levy doesn’t get too overexposed.

6. Tide: Jason Alexander Get Stepped On, etc.

Bonus laughs for the ’80s TV music bed (“Believe It or Not”). The changing faces of Alexander were pretty funny, though, might be more memorable for how weird he looked at the end (looked de-aged).

Nando: I don’t think Jake got the “Seinfeld” tie-in with the song! Would that have pushed it to No. 5?

7. Uber Eats: Wayne’s World

From Nando: “The commercial itself was just OK, but I love everything Wayne’s World — “NOTTT!!”, Tia Carrere, not saying the 2 or 1 when you count someone into a TV shot — and despite it kind of being mailed in, I loved seeing them back on my screen.” As for me, it was simply fun to see them back, but honestly, it would have ranked higher with the one before the Super Bowl, which was better …

8. Sam Adams: Horses

The visual of the person getting horse hip-checked through the window made me laugh, and for whatever reason, every time I hear, “Your cousin, from Bos … ton,” I will chuckle.

9. Bud Light: Legends (Avengers)

Good for chuckles and a trip down Bud Light commercial memory lane. Real Men of Genius guy! But, how do you leave out, “On your left!”?

Nando: This is possibly No. 2 for me. Hearing “Yes I am” again was so great. And “I loved you man” in past tense. And the guy who sang “Mister Vending Machine Repairmannnn.” I watched that three times in a row.

10. LYRIQ: ScissorHandsFree

Do half the people watching the Super Bowl remember “Edward Scissorhands”? This is another callback commercial for ’90s (ish) kids). I feel like this hits a specific group, and fortunately, I was in it, because it was amusing. Not roll on the floor laughing but amusing, especially with Winona Ryder doing reprising her role.

HONORABLE MENTION

Michelob Ultra: Happy

It wasn’t funny, but it did have a very cool aesthetic to it; the part where it switched to live video (Anthony Davis playing chess) was a fun twist from an initial feeling of “here comes a serious artsy commercial,” and I generally like watching an ad where I recognized everyone. Plus, always going to get my vote when using A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?”

Tracy Morgan for Rocket Mortgage — “Pretty Sure”

Flat-out funny and it seems like a pretty expensive one to make. Love everything Tracy Morgan does. In fact, “30 Rock” is one of the most underrated shows. Everyone sweats “The Office”, but you don’t see that same reverence for “30 Rock.”

Craig Robinson Pizza Hut

Total nostalgia play, and I’m not even sure this is technically a “Super Bowl commercial,” because it’s six days old on YouTube and it seems to lack that big-ness, but it aired after the team intros and I thought it was clever and fun. And man, you cannot find those Pizza Hut lampshades anywhere on eBay. This didn’t make the final Top 10, but anything with Craig Robinson (I watched and enjoyed “Ghosted” on FOX a few years ago) works for me.

Paramount+

Patrick Stewart hasn’t aged since 1990, a few good laughs, SpongeBob again, but seriously, ANOTHER streaming service?!

Nando: Yeah but “Yellowstone” is so awesome

Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade

Helped us laugh at the misery of what was 2020, and I especially appreciated the MLB cardboard cutouts getting involved. Side note though, man, “hard” seltzer might have been the biggest beneficiary of 2020 … enough!

Skechers: Max Cushioning

Meh. Does buying these shoes come with a certification for being a dad or mom?

Jimmy John’s: King of Cold Cuts

Some real laughable moments, but “Jimmy’s John’s” got repetitive. I actually laughed most at the warning, “Do not attempt,” when lighting the billboard on fire. Uh, no kidding, folks.


The Worst Super Bowl commercials

Hellmann’s Mayo

Wasn’t funny, and seeing a chocolate cake suggesting using mayo made me legitimately sick to my stomach.

Pringles: Stranded Astronauts

Not memorable. How do I know? I mentioned it, and people I was with didn’t even remember it airing. The stacking flavors commercial peaked and was only good with Bill Hader.

Oatly

It was definitely memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. Woof. I guess it was supposed to be “bad,” and props to the CEO, I guess? But it’s not going to make me want to buy Oatly. Internally, this may win the award for this year’s worst.

Klarna: Tiny Horses, Four Payments

I struggled to even understand what the selling point was or remember who it was for because it wasn’t funny and the CGI was some of the worst I’ve ever seen.


The Feel Good collection

Ford: Finish Strong

Anheuser-Busch: Let’s Grab a Beer

Indeed: The Rising

Toyota: Jessica Long Story

Guinness: Joe Montana GOAT

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