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Advertising
The Big Game: Super Bowl Ads for 2021
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by CHELSEA HINKEL

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A roundup and review of the best brand advertising for a year like no other

In a time where nothing is normal, what is usually the advertising industry’s premier showcase – The Super Bowl – took on quite a different feel this year. With many of the industry’s biggest players sitting out the big game, citing financial uncertainty and COVID, many are opting instead to support worthy causes like vaccination efforts and help those hardest hit by the pandemic economy. For those brands that did spend the $5.6 million for their 30-seconds in the spotlight, striking the right tone was crucial. After a week (or so) to marinate on what we saw, here are the ads that have stayed with us.

General Motor’s “Norway”

In this ad, Will Farrell’s hilarious send-up has the U.S. taking on Norway as the leader in electric vehicle sales per capita. With a series of snackable spots that smartly led up to the big event, a longer-form ad pays off this new-found rivalry between the U.S. and the Scandinavian country. With funny gaffes like punching a globe and turning up in the wrong snowbound European lands – like Finland and Sweden – the ad throws down the gauntlet with its signature: “We’re coming Norway.” Audi Norway has already answered back with their own take on the competition with three social ads, Game of Thrones style.

Bass Pro Shops “Get Back to Nature”

This ad did not avoid our current COVID moment, but embraced it instead. After all, who isn’t “feeling a little cooped up” after nearly a year of sheltering at home? This ad full of breathtaking vistas and quiet corners of our world harkens the healing quality of nature. Invoking the call of the great outdoors, Bass Pro Shops reminds us “that like a sunrise or the turning of the tides, these challenges will pass.” The emotional, enduring message hit just the right note for nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts of all stripes. It might even inspire some others to grab a pair hiking boots and get out there.

Uber Eats “Wayne’s World”

Our least favorite ad this year was Wayne’s World for Uber Eats. With two principal actors who look so different no matter how much make-up you put on them (it has been 20+ years after all), the signature humor that was once Wayne’s World trademark simply falls flat for Millennials or Z. Even including a star like Cardi B can’t resuscitate this rerun. It’s difficult to say what Uber Eats was trying to say with this ad, but it doesn’t resonate with the Gen X audience it’s harkening back to or the new generation of would-be late night TV viewers who probably don’t even know what an access channel is.

Klarna’s “Four Quarter-Sized Cowboys”

Q: What’s better than Maya Rudolph in an ad? A: Four shrunken-down Maya Rudolphs in an ad. For fans of female-powered, SNL style humor, this quirky short spot leans into its silliness. The scene is an old west vignette with an (intentionally bad) insertion of four quarter-sized western lasses who are pining after a pair of pink cowboy boots. The four diminutive cowgirls split the cost of the bold boots with Klarna, an app that lets users to buy now and pay later with four non-interest payments. Both entertaining and illuminating, this memorable ad successfully leverages Rudolph’s signature style of humor – a real boon for a burgeoning brand.

To learn more about the role of creative and advertising as part of a holistic brand experience or to speak to one of our industry experts, email us at info@adrenalineagency.com or call (678) 412-6903.


Adrenaline is an experience design agency that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.

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