While it’s never unusual for Hollywood’s biggest names to make cameos in Super Bowl commercials, this year there seems to be a flood of A-listers nabbing the primetime spots, which have been going for an estimated $5.5 million for just 30 seconds of airtime.
The year 2020 was like no other in recent history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And there’s been a notable shift in celebrities seeking out commercial spots, partly because big projects have been put on hold and celebs are more willing to film from their own homes while still pocketing a sizable paycheck.
Big-name brands took advantage of the star-studded talent pool for Super Bowl LV, hiring famed athletes Serena Williams, Eli and Peyton Manning; sitcom characters Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander and The Office’s Leslie David Baker; musicians Lenny Kravitz, Dolly Parton, and Cardi B; actors Michael B. Jordan, Matthew McConaughey, and Amy Schumer.
More than a dozen commercials featured household names and some are sure to have shelled out the big bucks to create ensemble casts. General Motors' promotion of its electric vehicles included Will Ferrell, Awkwafina, and Kenan Thompson and Cheetos’ had Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis team up with Shaggy to remix his hit song “Wasn’t Me.”
Other companies are hoping for a touchdown commercial by offering cash prizes. Mountain Dew enlisted wrestler-turned-actor John Cena to announce that one sharp-eyed viewer would win $1 million if they could be the first to correctly count the number of Mountain Dew bottles in its commercial on Sunday night.
As always, some missed the mark. Lenny Kravitz teamed up with Stella Artois for an ironically timed message to encourage people to “invest,” just days after the GameStop stock fiasco. What’s more, Kravitz declared everyone was a “billionaire” because they were simply alive. After the past year, it didn't seem the beer brand was reading the room.
Here’s a roundup of all the best celebrity-filled Super Bowl commercials and a few that could have used a reshoot.
Amazon: Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan is featured in a comical spot for Amazon’s Alexa, where a woman daydreams that instead of the computerized voice coming from its new “beautiful” sphere shape, it’s embodied by People’s “Sexist Man Alive,” much to the disdain of her partner. Jordan gives her tablespoon measurements while she cooks, although dinner has already been picked up. The actor willingly gets drenched when asked to turn on the sprinklers and strips off his shirt when dimming the lights. He even seductively reads her an audiobook while they soak together in a candle-lit tub. The result is hilarious and an easy crossover promotion for Jordan’s upcoming film Without Remorse, which is set to stream on Amazon’s video platform later this month.
Cheetos: Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Shaggy
First comes the surprise that Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and singer Shaggy are all in the same room. The next is when the couple start singing a slight remix of “It Wasn’t Me” as Kutcher catches his wife snacking on the orange cheese puffs around their house. Kutcher could have used a singing lesson or two, but it's delightfully silly and unlike the original song, G-rated.
General Motors: Will Ferrell, Awkwafina, and Kenan Thompson
Will Ferrell is taking on Norway for selling more electric cars per capita than the United States. Hopping into GM’s new Ultium battery-powered vehicle, he declares “we are gonna crush those lugers.” The comedian recruits Awkwafina and Kenan Thompson for his mission, traveling across the ocean via shipping container to get to the Scandinavian country. The only road bump is that Ferrell ends up in Sweden and his pals in Finland. But as Ferrell notes, at least the country is “adorable.”
Cadillac: Timothée Chalamet and Winona Ryder
In an ad that dropped hours before the Super Bowl, Cadillac has actress Winona Ryder reprise her role as Kim Boggs from Edward Scissorhands and Timothée Chalamet plays her son, Edgar. “This is the story of a boy with scissors for hands. No, not that one,” Ryder’s character says. Much like his father, Edgar has scissors for hands, meaning he has trouble taking the bus, playing football with friends, and sticking to the menu at his job, creating intricate towers of meat and vegetables instead of standard salads and sandwiches. It’s a skill apparently inherited from his father Edward, who was played by Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s 1990 film and isn’t directly mentioned in the spot. But Boggs can make her son feel normal with the new Cadillac LYRIQ, which can self-drive. A visibly pleased Edgar uses the hand-free feature to cruise through his neighborhood, resting one scissor hand out the window.
State Farm: Drake, Paul Rudd, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers
State Farm had been teasing its spot for its first ever in-game Super Bowl commercial all week long. The NFL stars were revealed as Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, sitting with current State Farm spokesperson Jake, real name Jake Stone, as they try to find their stand-ins. But it was Paul Rudd and Drake who stole the spotlight. Rudd shows up to attempt to throw a pass like Mahomes and Drake picks at the snack table as he auditions to play Jake. But when he fumbles at his line, Jake interrupts and says, “like a good neighbor, stand-ins don’t have lines.”
Mountain Dew: John Cena
Mountain Dew is taking a different approach to its advertisement this year. John Cena announces the company is giving away a whopping $1 million prize to whomever can correctly count the number of Mtn Dew Major Melon bottles that are shown in the commercial. The sharp-eyed viewer has to be the first to tweet the right number with the hashtag #MTNDEWMAJORMELON to scoop the cash. As Cena noted during the 30-second teaser, knowing how to count could change your life.
Squarespace: Dolly Parton
The website platform not only got La La Land and Whiplash director Damien Chazelle to direct its commercial, it landed Dolly Parton and had her re-record her anthem “9 to 5,” switching the times to “5 to 9.” Meant to celebrate the entrepreneurial and hustle spirit, Parton sings “workin' 5 to 9, you've got passion and a vision. 'Cause it's hustlin' time, only way to make a livin’. Gonna change your life. Do something that gives it meaning with a website that is worthy of your dreamin’.” It’s a bit bleak to encourage extending a normal day’s working hours to 16 hours, but the classic song, bright visuals, and choreography by a Tony winner help to make up for it.
Stella Artois: Lenny Kravitz
In a bit of a tone-deaf ad, considering that due to the pandemic workers worldwide lost $3.7 trillion in income and the uber wealthy made $3.9 trillion, Stella Artois hired Lenny Kravitz to declare everyone is a billionaire. Apparently, because everyone is born with 2.5 billion heartbeats, people shouldn’t “waste the fortune within us” and rather “invest in each other.”
Uber Eats: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, and Cardi B
Uber Eats was able to get Mike Myers and Dana Carvey to reprise their fan-favorite Saturday Night Live characters Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World. Ensuring their loyal watchers they were still a small-time local access show filmed in a basement, they wanted to spread the message to “eat local” but with none of the standard, gimmicky ploys regular advertisers use. Certainly not with slow motion, wind-blown hair, babies dressed like themselves, a famous celebrity, such as Cardi B, or jumping on a TikTok trend to hawk a product.
Klarna: Maya Rudolph
Maya Rudolph, well, to be exact four miniature cowgirl versions of Rudolph, harmonize to “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” while riding horses into a western town. They set their sights on a pair of pretty pink boots, dividing the amount between four small payments with Klarna before galloping off into the distance while locals hoop and holler after them.
Bacardi: Meek Mill and Leslie Grace
Bacardi recruited rapper Meek Mill and singer Leslie Grace for a straight-up music video, revamping Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine's dance-tune “Conga.” Grace sings “now me and you, we got the cheat code; And we got Bacardi, it's a party, everybody move ya body now.” The ad is only 30 seconds, but the musicians put up a nearly four-minute music video on YouTube, which of course is presented by Bacardi.
M&M’S: Dan Levy
In a light 30-second spot, M&M’s has people in various situations apologizing by handing over a packet of the candy. This includes purposely kicking someone’s airplane seat so their Bloody Mary spills everywhere, a gender reveal gone wrong, calling a woman a "Karen" and passing over an extra packet when she realizes that’s her actual name. Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy appears at the end to promise two M&M’S, Ms. Green and newest spokescandy Ms. Brown, that he won’t eat any more of their friends. The camera cuts to show Levy has Red screaming inside his car. “Okay, it might happen one more time,” he sheepishly admits as he locks the car.
Tide: Jason Alexander
In a truly random ad, Tide had Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander’s face screen printed on a messy teen’s hoodie. The high schooler recalls all the dog drool, old gum and dirty socks stacked on top of the sweater, each time with Alexander’s face pulled into a disgusted grimace. After he finally washes the hoodie, Alexander himself makes a cameo, adamantly saying the teen can’t just go around wearing his face.
Hellmann’s: Amy Schumer
Not much is known about Hellmann’s spot with Amy Schumer, beyond that it involves mayonnaise and wings. The ad won’t be aired in full until Sunday night, with the brand only releasing a 15-second teaser where Schumer opens up a fridge filled with symmetrically placed jars of mayo and steps inside. Her shadow slowly sprouts wings and superhero-themed music begins to play. The actress did give a slight hint about the commercial to People, explaining her character “hates food waste” and the brand makes “taste not waste”.
Doritos: Matthew McConaughey, Mindy Kaling, and Jimmy Kimmel
In another strange commercial, Matthew McConaughey is a flat, 2D version of himself for Doritos. “Lately, I haven’t been feeling quite like myself,” he says. He tries to go about his day-to-day life but gets knocked over by a football, the barista can’t see him when he’s standing sideways, and a gust of wind turns him into a kite while walking his dog. Mindy Kaling and Jimmy Kimmel also make a cameo when McConaughey appears on Kimmel’s late-night show. “Did you drive here, or did you travel by fax,” the host jokes. But McConaughey finally returns to normal dimensions when taking a bite of Doritos’ new 3D chips, although now he’s stuck inside a vending machine.
Bud Light: Post Malone and Cedric the Entertainer
Bud Light went full throttle with two spots, one declaring 2020 was a lemon of a year to roll out its new lemonade seltzers. The other introduced its Bud Light Legends, featuring fan-favorite leads from the brand’s previous campaigns, including Post Malone, Cedric the Entertainer, and the “Bud Knight” and the “I Love You, Man.”
Frito-Lay: Marshawn Lynch, Eli, Peyton and Archie Manning, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Jerome Bettis, and Deion Sanders
Frito-Lay pulled out the all-star NFL roster when casting for this year’s commercial. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch narrated the tale of "'Twas the Night Before Super Bowl" and checked in on “Super Bowl legends of yesteryear.” Quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning toss a football around while wearing matching pajamas, surrounded by various memorabilia for the handful of teams they played for, only to get a telling off from their New Orleans Saints star dad Archie Manning. Former San Francisco 49ers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice play flick football with Doritos in a treehouse when Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman attempts to join in but is waved away. Pittsburgh Steelers Terry Bradshaw and Jerome Bettis argue over the famed Immaculate Reception catch from 1972. And two-time Super Bowl champion Deion Sanders leaps out of bed in his Cheetos pajamas to have a look at the stadium in the morning light. For fans, it’s always fun to involve past Super Bowl players into the current big game, plus Frito-Lay included a blooper reel.
Scotts Lawn: Martha Stewart, Leslie David Baker, and John Travolta
Scotts Lawn is also doing a giveaway for this year’s Super Bowl, offering the “lawn and garden of your dreams.” Martha Stewart pipes up to say you could make your backyard look like hers, but “just not better.” The Office’s Leslie David Baker, who played Stanley in the NBC sitcom, makes an appearance while grilling burgers. John Travolta films a TikTok with his daughter Ella, dancing to his iconic Grease “Born to Hand Jive” number. Stewart leers over her tomatoes and quips “he’s still got it.”
Michelob Ultra: Don Cheadle
Michelob Ultra cleverly appeared to stock its commercial with some of the industry’s biggest names, including Usher, Serena Williams, Maluma, Megan Fox, Lucy Liu, and Sylvester Stallone to promote its Organic Seltzer. The celebs rattle off how they want a seltzer with zero carbs, no artificial aftertaste and is organic. But when Don Cheadle swoops in on a yacht via helicopter to nab his script from his look-alike (which is actually his real-life brother Colin), he exposes all the other “celebrities” as just doppelgängers. Cheadle reminds viewers that not everything is as it seems, but that Michelob Ultra’s new seltzer is the real deal. And at the end of the spot, the narrator is finally revealed. Of course, it’s not Christopher Walken, just another fake.