This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

Super Bowl Ads: The Best Of 2021

From Doritos to Bud Light, and Drake to Dan Levy.

The party may be a little smaller this year, but the Super Bowl is still barreling on.

On Sunday evening, the Kansas City Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes, faced off against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

As is now tradition, many of the companies that invested huge sums of money to broadcast advertisements during the big game have already released their ads, in full or in part, on YouTube.

One notable change, though, is that several of the companies that are used to serving big hits at the Super Bowl every year are skipping this year’s broadcast. Budweiser, Coke and Pepsi are all no-shows.

It’s a sign of the times that the 30-second TV spots, which cost a hefty US$5.5 million each, took two months longer to sell than usual.

But fear not: Doritos, Bud Light, and Mountain Dew have all invested in ads, along with other big names, and a ton of celebrity cameos.

Here’s what you can expect to see on Sunday night.

“There’s a chapel in Kansas … it never closes. All are more than welcome” Wise words, as “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen makes a big play for unity, adding that, “Fear has never been the best of who we are, and as for freedom, it's not the property of just the fortunate few, it belongs to us all.” The two-minute spot for utility vehicles continues, as the “Born in the USA” singer makes a case for why we “need the middle,” noting, “Whoever you are, wherever you're from, it's what connects us, and we need that connection.” Four-wheel drive … The equalizer.
Yes, on paper, you would not expect the punkish ska princess Gwen Stefani to fall for country star Blake Shelton, but after their platonic meet-cute on “The Voice,” they quickly became romantic. But leave it to T-Mobile to reimagine the now-engaged couple’s origin story, complete with a cameo from fellow longtime “The Voice” judge, Adam Levine. According to the mobile provider, Levine’s spotty reception led to a gross misunderstanding of what Gwen was looking for in a partner, and accidentally brought this odd couple together. He’s a little bit country … She’s a little bit rock’n’roll. It works.
Be best? More like “Bee Big.” Terry Crews, the former NFLer-turned “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” lieutenant, brings his high energy motivational pep talks to the breakfast food game, as a champion for sugary cereals.
Well, this is something. Gen X queen Winona Ryder (as Kim Boggs) and young millennial Timothée Chalamet cash in on their fame in this Tim Burton-infused spot and “Edward Scissorhands” homage that doubles as promo for the all-electric Cadillac LYRIQ, complete with a hands-free feature. To our knowledge, no waterbeds were harmed in the making of this '90s homage.
Seeing Golden Globe winner Gael García Bernal on a beach sounds idyllic. But not when it’s in M. Night Shymalan’s new thriller. Here, he plays a frantic dad who sees his kids age rapidly before his eyes while on vacation. Nothing like some family-friendly nightmare fuel to spice up the Big Game, right?
State Farm
What happened to our “6ix God?” Well, like a good neighbour, the proud Torontonian pops up in this State Farm commercial as their spokesman Jake’s stand-in. Sadly, he learns “stand-ins don’t have lines,” even if they have a special heart-shaved haircut. But “Drake from State Farm” does have access to craft services. (and a chance to toss around a football with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II’s stand-in Paul Rudd … and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers)
'The Falcon and The Winter Soldier'
“O Captain, My Captain.” Oh wait … Who’s the new Captain America after all? As Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (Falcon) asks himself … “Where do we start?” Well, here’s what we do know about this “Avengers” spinoff series. Port Perry, Ont.’s Emily VanCamp returns as Sharon Carter … and she holds up our heroes at gunpoint.
'Raya and the Last Dragon'
As if you needed more reasons to be hyped up for the latest Disney animated offering, how about this intro? “From the studio that brought you ‘Frozen’...” Two fresh :30 spots for Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” aired at prime Super Bowl time, 5:59 p.m. ET and 6:47 p.m. ET, featuring Kelly Marie Tran, and the ultra sarcastic voice of Awkwafina.
“Oh, we were doing a jumpy thing?” asks Awkwafina’s character Sisu. “So sorry, my bad.”
Canadian treasure Sandra Oh also stars, but we’re not quite sure how she fits into this adventure, which debuts on Disney+ Premier Access on March 5.
For the third straight year, Canadian crooner Michael Bublé shills for flavoured soda water cans — now in pineapple and peach — that hold a striking resemblance to his last name. But for the first time ever, Vancouver’s smirking export delivers a unique ad tailored especially for his home country. And even dogs can’t get his name right. Maybe they “just haven’t met [him] yet.” Or sniffed?
Uber Eats
Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reunited for a very 2021 update to "Wayne's World."
"Schitt's Creek" star and very recent "SNL" host Dan Levy is one of many people apologizing with candy in this M&M's ad.
Matthew McConaughey stars as "Flat Matthew," along with appearances by Mindy Kaling and Jimmy Kimmel, who appeared in the teaser released a few days earlier.
GM got Will Ferrell, Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina to advertise their electric cars, along with ... Norway?
Amazon Alexa
What if Michael B. Jordan were Alexa, and Amazon could advertise both its smart speaker and an upcoming movie of his at the same time?
Bud Light
Post-apocalypse, but make it Bud Light, with appearances by Post Malone, Cedric the Entertainer, and other characters from previous Bud Light commercials. (You can see some of theirindividualcontributions, if you want, in a number of other shorter spots.)
Bud Light
Wait, did you think Bud Light would have only one series of Super Bowl spots? This ad takes the old "when life gives you lemons" adage and makes it literal to illustrate the hellish experience of 2020.
Yep, that's Bryan Cranston's voice, urging viewers to follow COVID protocols — and, presumably, buy a Ford.
"Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander stars — kind of — in this ad encouraging us to all do laundry more often than we think we need to. (He's also in the bonus clips.)
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher star in a Cheetos-themed version of Shaggy's gaslighting anthem "It Wasn't Me" (with a bonus Shaggy appearance and verse, naturally).
Rockstar Energy Drink
Rapper Lil' Baby is the star of Rockstar's ad.
Some of the cameos here include Martha Stewart, John Travolta, Carl Weathers, NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, Leslie David Baker of "The Office" and Peloton instructor Emma Lovewell.
Michelob ULTRA
Michelob opted for a number of big name athletes including Serena Williams, Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis, and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning.
Hellmann's opted to wait until the game to air their full ad, but released a teaser starring Amy Schumer and ... the shadow of a chicken?
Dolly Parton's classic "9 to 5" is re-introduced as "5 to 9" in this ode to side hustles.
Former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch narrates this spot, starring a pyjama-clad Eli and Peyton Manning.
Stella Artois
Lenny Kravitz wants you to invest in each other over a beer, according to this rhyming ad.
Athletes galore, as well as SpongeBob SquarePants, show up in this yogurt ad.
This Toyota spot highlights the journey of U.S. Paralympic champion Jessica Long, a Siberian orphan who had both legs amputated as a baby.
Defy Logic
Lil' Nas X, his song "Call Me By Your Name," and his excellent fashion choices star in this Logitech commercial.
Nick Jonas, who's been open about his Type 1 diabetes, shows up to help sell glucose-marketing service Dexcom.
Jimmy John's
Yes, the "King of Cold Cuts" in this commercial is Brad Garrett of "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Four Maya Rudolphs, all singing "These Boots Are Made For Walkin,'" star in this cowboy-themed ad for Swedish bran Klarna.
Chipotle asks the important questions, like: Can a burrito change the world?
Samuel Adams
Another football star, Tony Romo, stars in this ad along with his wife, Candice Crawford.
Dawn's ad addresses the gender gap in household chores, something that's been exacerbated since the start of the pandemic.
Cutwater Spirits
Dr. Squatch
Bass Pro Shops

This story originally appeared in French on HuffPost Québec. Translation by Maija Kappler.

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