The Funniest

“Certain is Better” I and II — Rocket Mortgage

I am certain, not pretty sure, that the two Rocket Mortgage commercials starring Tracy Morgan were the highlight of this year’s Super Bowl ads. This is surely one to stick in people’s minds for months to come.

Both commercials start with Tracy Morgan taking potential homeowners through a series of hilarious events illustrating the difference between “pretty sure” and “certain.” For instance, in one scene Morgan and the family are in a plane and he pushes the dad out saying he is pretty sure what is on his back is a parachute when it is really a child’s backpack. It is a creative and funny way of showing what Rocket Mortgage can do for you.

The idea is that Rocket Mortgage changes your answer to, “can I afford this house?” from “I am pretty sure I can,” to “I am certain I can.”

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The Most Creative

“Last Year’s Lemons” — Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade

Starting with a flashback to New Year’s Day 2020, with unwitting optimism toward a new decade, Bud Light’s ad provides a comical look back at the “lemon” of a year that 2020 was, literally showering unsuspecting brides, bicyclers and bus drivers with the physical manifestation of what was truly a horrendous year.

Bud Light’s ability to creatively extract humor from 2020 while making a memorable ad makes it one of the best from the Super Bowl.

The Full Package

“No Way Norway” — GM

The last time I saw Will Ferrell he was Icelandic pop star Lars Eriksson. In GM’s commercial he plays an unstable yet determined guy who will not stand for the U.S. lagging behind Norway’s energy efficiency. With the addition of comedians Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina, GM nailed this commercial.

What makes it so good is its commitment to the absurd. From catching arrows to vomiting off the side of a cargo ship, Will Ferrell knocks it out of the park in this commercial. It all culminates in the trio of crusaders getting lost, ending up in Finland and Sweden instead of Norway. Besides the commercial itself, this ad marks a progressive step in sustainable energy as GM promises to be fully electric by 2035.

The Heart Warmer

“Upstream” — Toyota

First off, this commercial was well-shot, chock-full of incredible special effects and a masterclass in how to tell a story in one minute. Toyota’s entrant “Upstream” is a biopic on Jessica Long, a four-time U.S. Paralympian who has won 23 medals. This ad juxtaposes Long swimming and a phone call between her adoptive mother and the orphanage where she began her life.

It is a beautiful commercial that ends with a shot of Long in the pool, smiling at her mother who is eager to adopt her, despite the difficulties they will face. Some may say, “well what does this have to do with cars?” The answer is nothing. But, it has everything to do with Toyota as a brand. It is a statement of their values and a damn good one at that.

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The “could there be worse timing?”

“We Are All Investors” — Robinhood

Robinhood, the app for all types of investors, is now facing 30 lawsuits from traders for halting trades on certain companies.

It has been a tumultuous start to 2021 for Robinhood, and this ad touting the apps’ freedom-to-all mentality is brutal timing, as the investing platform has made headlines stopping trades on certain businesses like GameStop, AMC and Nokia after a major uptick in the price per share due in large part to the reddit group WallStreetBets. Robinhood is no stranger to controversy. In December, the company was sued by Massachusetts regulators for targeting inexperienced investors with what CBS News calls “flashy gimmicks” that portray investing as a game.

The Ugly

“Wow Wow No Cow” — Oatly

“Taste like milk, made for youmans(?)” God, this was ugly. This was the “let’s-start-the-group-project-the-night-before-it’s-due” of commercials. Seriously. What was this? If you have not seen this ad for the newest entrant into a long line of milk alternatives, do yourself a favor.

This is the “Batman and Robin” of ads, so bad it is entertaining in a strange way. I cannot comprehend how this ad was approved. It takes place in a field where the founder of Oatly plays an electric piano and sings a strange jingle. There is something to be said for creating earworms — jingles that are annoying, yet they stick in your mind — but this one was not it. “Wow Wow Holy Cow.”

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The New Addition

“Sweet Victory” — Paramount Plus

Paramount had four separate advertisements for their new streaming service, Paramount Plus. With the most slots of any company and actors from their most popular programs in each of them, Paramount is going all in on spreading the word about yet another streaming service. In just the past year, Disney, HBO, Discovery Channel and NBC have come out with streaming services.

The market for streaming is oversaturated, yet it is also booming, so why not get their feet wet. There is no shortage of good content from Paramount, that’s for sure. The service will include live sports, news and a “Mountain of Entertainment,” beginning March 4.